Tea for Me

Yesterday afternoon my friend Luana hosted “high tea” in honor
of the release of my novel, Love’s
.  Hats were optional and
gloves were in evidence, and we all dressed up—what fun! Now, this was my first
official book party with my first official reading, so I was very excited. Also
extremely nervous. These women were all former colleagues from the two high
schools where I taught English and journalism. These intelligent, professional,
well-read women who taught literature, literary criticism and world languages were going to
listen to me read from my romance novel. They’ve read Faulkner and Shakespeare and
James Joyce for goodness sake!
I confessed my case of nerves to Rich at breakfast, and
he listened sympathetically. Smiling at me he said, “They are your friends.”  He intuitively knows the perfect response, and it did quell my fears somewhat. But the feeling lingered, that standing-in-front-of-them-naked feeling that every writer experiences, I imagine, when reading the words that came in the middle of the night or in the shower when writing is so difficult and drippy.
We gathered and chatted, and finally Luana said, “Let’s hear from your book.” I had prepared for this as I used to prepare lesson plans, with notes scrawled in margins, “start” and “stop” indicated with arrows, and prompts for discussion. I picked up the draft I had received from my editor at Crimson Romance, for you see these were teachers, they would enjoy the process as much as the product, and I began to read.
The exposition describes Emily’s grief at the news of her father’s recent death, and even though I wrote those words, read them hundreds of times and revised them almost as many, my voice caught as I read her sorrow. And suddenly it didn’t matter who I was reading my story to because it was my story, and it was good, and I believed in it. The case of nerves vanished, and I allowed myself to be immersed in my reading.
At one point when I looked up, Marilyn had her eyes closed and I knew she wasn’t sleeping (always a possibility) but was concentrating, enjoying my words. When I described Jonathon’s breeches, Sarah giggled, explaining when I glanced up that she would like to linger on those details, Marilyn and Carol agreed.   When I finished reading the two sections I had selected, Linda said, “I’m already in love with Jonathon.”
They were not patronizing me, handing out kind words because they were friends.  You have to know these women; they tell it like it is and would have happily given me some literary criticism on the spot.  Their words were sincere and affirming. I’m sure I was beaming like the proverbial cat that ate the canary (or fill in your own simile). It was a fantastic moment.
We adjoined to the dining room for tea at a table fit for a queen (ironic that another Elizabeth was celebrating at the same time across the pond…she couldn’t have been as pleased as I was) Conversation meandered through all possible topics, and I basked in the glow of a dream come true. Thank you, my friends.

6 thoughts on “Tea for Me

  1. Isn't it lovely to have friends who understand and appreciate what you do?

    Thanks for sharing this moment with us and congratulations on the publication of Love's Destiny!

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