It was November, 2011. I had just gone back to work part-time at a library after staying home with my sons for two years following the birth of my second. So basically, I had just rejoined the living after huddling in a cave for 24 months. It was a Tuesday evening, and I had just got a book by one of my favorite authors on hold.
We're going to call him "Mick Zimmerman."
I stood in the circulation work room of the library, feeling that book hum in my hands because I knew it was going to be good. I opened the book to flip through the pages when the whole thing kind of fell apart in my hands. The spine was broken, and I found myself holding nothing but the back cover of the book. The author's photo stared back at me, and my eyes caught the first line of his bio: "Mick Zimmerman was born in 1975."
*cue the needle scratching across the surface of the record*
You see, I was born in 1974, which means Mick Zimmerman is freaking younger than I am.
And look, people, this guy had already written at least one book that could feasibly outlive him. So there I was, in my late thirties, at a time in my life when simply exiting the house without peanut butter somewhere on my person was my greatest accomplishment, and here was this Mick Zimmerman fellow smiling back at me with five published books under his belt. And I'm not going to lie to you, that smile looked smug to me, as if to say, "I wrote *insert title of masterpiece.* What have you done, Megan?"
Yeah, okay, I'm sure he's a really nice guy, but I stood there in that circulation work room and told him with no little resentment, "Oh, I am writing that book, Mick Zimmerman!"
I sulked for two days until I found myself working the reference desk with my friend Kathee that Thursday night. I told her about Mick Zimmerman, and how I wanted to write a book and how I had tried several years before (and failed) and how I had had an idea for a YA novel for two years but just hadn't made it happen.
Kathee said fondly, "Oh, I wrote a book once."
WHAT?? Had everyone written a book but me? I pointed at her and said, "We're in a writing group. We're critique partners." And God love Kathee, she said, "Okay," without batting an eye. Our friend Jenny joined us a year later.
I read that book by Mick Zimmerman, and it was, of course, fantastic. As I entered it into my Goodreads account, I noticed that he was listed as a Goodreads Author. It felt a little stalker-ish, but I clicked on his name and went to his Goodreads page. There, I found a link to a YouTube video in which the author discusses *insert title of masterpiece.* I clicked on that, too, feeling even more stalker-like. Toward the end of the video, Mick Zimmerman says something along the lines of, "If you knew before you ever began that your book would never be published, that no one would ever read it, that it would never see the light of day, would you still write it? The answer has to be, 'yes.'"
I suspect it was a cautionary statement to would-be writers: Don't write something to be published. Write for yourself. But to me, it was completely liberating. Yes! I could just write a book! No one would ever have to see it! It was going to be like running a marathon. I wouldn't set out to win the race. I just wanted to finish the race, to prove to myself I could do it.
So I started writing. And I never stopped.
Thanks, "Mick Zimmerman." (You talented, talented S.O.B.)