Thursday, November 27, 2008

Being Thankful

Elizabeth Zelvin

Since I’m the Deadly Daughter who blogs on Thursdays, each year I have the delightful task of acknowledging Thanksgiving. Even in this terrible economy and the challenges of the times we live in, I have much to be thankful for this year. One of the nicest things about thankfulness is that it’s infinitely expandable. Rather than having to choose the one person, event, or object I’m happiest about, I can make a list.

Let’s start with the publication in 2008 of my first mystery (and first published novel), Death Will Get You Sober. My husband and I were looking at my high school yearbook the other night. There it was in black and white: in 1960, I already wanted to be a writer. “I am a writer, right?” I said. “Absolutely,” he said. I’ve been writing since I was seven, but a published novel is incontrovertible evidence that I still needed in spite of my two books of poetry, my professional writing on codependency and addictions and gender and online therapy. And this is the year it happened.

Of equal value or greater in my thankful heart: my two granddaughters. These two little girls are a miracle to me. The older one, who’s four, is a drama queen and a bit of a smartass, in the nicest possible way. Last time I saw them, they were on their way to the Bahamas for a vacation en famille. (My son and his wife, who are terrific parents, never get tired of their children, so I never get to babysit without supervision.) Katie asked if I’d like her to bring me something from the Bahamas. I didn’t want her to embarrass her mother with demands for, say, expensive jewelry for Grandma, so I said maybe she could bring me a seashell or something. Katie’s look made it clear I’d missed the point. “Do you want sand?” she asked, “or do you want water?” The little one, with her joyous grin, thinks that a camera or any other object held up to the eye is called, “Cheese!”

Back to books: I’m deeply thankful that St. Martin’s will publish the next in my mystery series, Death Will Help You Leave Him. I don’t have cover art yet, but having a series is even better than having a single mystery. I’m thrilled that I can go on hanging out with Bruce and Jimmy and Barbara as they tackle more murder and a number of addictive relationships. I’m thankful for the exponential growth in my ability to critique my work, see what’s wrong or too much, and kill my darlings when I have to. I’m thankful for the decrease in a lifelong shyness that enabled me to schmooze my way across the country on my book tour, enjoying every minute. I’m thankful for the Agatha nomination for my first short story, “Death Will Clean Your Closet,” and even more for my new and unexpected ability to write a short story now and then. It broadens my reach as a writer and provides, if not instant gratification, a respite from the prolonged agony of writing a novel.

The next item is one that’s so unprecedented that I couldn’t bear to omit it, with all due respect to any reader who may not feel the same: I am thankful for the result of the recent election. It’s been forty years since I’ve had any confidence in the American political process or hope that a candidate with integrity and intelligence would stand up and speak out without equivocation. I hope the world gets cleaner, kinder, more honest, and more peaceful in the next four years, and I’m grateful we have a shot at it.

This list could go on and on, but I’ll mention just one more composite item. I’m thankful for the many wonderful people in my life: family, friends, and fellow mystery lovers who have shared the 2008 leg of my journey. I’m thankful for the 60-odd people who showed up at my book launch in April; the 300 Guppies who shared the ups and downs of my journey to publication and beyond; the 20 or so members of my junior high school class with whom I’ve been having an extended and heartwarming reunion after 51 years. I’m thankful to and for everyone who bought my book and everyone who housed and fed me and transported me and came to my signings on my book tour. I’m thankful for Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime en masse, as well as everybody on DorothyL and CrimeSpace and Murder Must Advertise, all the mystery and indie booksellers and librarians I've met, the chain bookstore staff who made me welcome, and reviewers who enjoyed my book and said so, everybody at my publisher’s who’s helped make this dream come true, and my fantastic agent.

Sure, winning the lottery would be nice. So would having a bestseller or a movie option. But this year I already have everything of any importance that I could possibly be thankful for.


Sandra Parshall said...

Happy Thanksgiving to our readers! We all appreciate your taking a few minutes from your day to visit with us.

Julia Buckley said...

What beautiful girls! Thanks for sharing your thanks, Liz. :)