The Surreality of Life

I forget now if I’ve ever blogged about writing a textbook. Probably not, because it’s been a part of my life since long before I started writing this blog. My friend and I started writing the text at the request of a professional colleague. A major publisher signed us to a production contract, which they eventually cancelled because of some unforeseen internal upheavals on the publisher’s part. Here we were, stuck with a completed work and no publisher for it, and we nearly canned the entire project. On a last-ditch whim, I mentioned the book’s existence to another professional colleague. One thing led to another, and we signed the textbook to a different contract with the largest educational publisher in North America.

This is all fine and dandy, but from our perspectives, our book consisted of a lot of solo work at our computers, interspersed with the occasional teleconference with the publisher. My co-author lives in Alaska, so 99% of our communication involves emails or text messages. We’ve completed the work through the magic of modern technology. Ok, that’s the back story. Then there came this past weekend, and my friend and I learned what surreal means.

The publisher requested that we attend a conference that a significant part of our target market would attend. We cleared our schedules and made the long journey from our homes to the place. I remember being extremely tired when I arrived, since I had left my home at 1:45 a.m. to make the journey and arrive at the requested time. My schedule did not let me to travel the day earlier, so I knew it would be a long day of travel and meetings. I donned my comfy travel clothes (aka sweats), and set off on the journey.

What happened when I arrived was completely unexpected.

I was slightly delayed, so I had to attend our lunch meeting with the publisher in my travel clothes. From the moment I saw my friend and editor, the hugs and handshakes started. People I had never met, but who knew me from my name and the picture I had submitted to go with the book, congratulated me. I had a few minutes to clean up and put on professional clothes, and then was swept into a whirlwind of meeting publishing colleagues who knew more about me than I realized. Dinner was a quiet affair at a four-star restaurant (the type I generally can’t afford). By the time the day concluded, I was more tired than I can remember and had been awake for nearly 24 hours straight.

Ok, cool. It was sweet of people to congratulate me. But many of those people were in the publishing industry and knew that our book was coming soon. Then came the next day.

My friend and I started talking with potential customers as part of the networking aspect of being at a conference, not knowing what reception we would receive. They were so bowled over that our book, which the teachers in our particular educational sector had needed, was nearly ready for publication that we were applauded, had our brains picked, and were inspired to add extra pieces that we had never before considered. There was a huge poster that was an enlarged copy of our book cover prominently on display at the publisher’s booth, along with demonstrations of some of the ancillary technology pieces we had been developing. As soon as people realized who we were and connected us with the poster, they started bringing their friends and colleagues to meet us. Once they also realized the geographic disparity of our homes — and the exotic locales of Alaska and Vermont from which we hailed — people were even more intrigued by us. The evening concluded with a gala during which more people came to congratulate us.

When my friend and I left the gala for our room, we were in shock. All we could do for a long time was wander around the room, reflecting on the day and saying “Wow.” Until that point, we had no idea of the scope of our work. Remember, it had been us and our computers and phones until that point. We saw the bigger picture of how many lives our book could touch, how unimaginably huge this project was, and it was completely surreal. I’ve been in a band before and have been accorded minor celebrity status by a small group of people, so I thought I knew how it felt to be a “rockstar.”

Nothing prepared my friend and me for this, though.

Mom teased me that evening that my head might not fit through the door after the weekend. She was likely correct in that assessment, so I (unconsciously) fixed the problem. I stopped at a world-renowned restaurant for lunch, enjoying the moment just a little longer. My friends know that I look good in everything I eat, and that day was no different. I managed to spill some of my chocolate dessert down my shirt and had to walk back to my hotel with my head held high and my shirt stained.

Talk about a reality check.

Between the exhaustion of long days, the realizations about the project’s scope, the people we met, and all publisher’s celebration, it was a heck of a few days. I don’t think I’m understating things by saying that it was surreal…and wonderful…and awe-inspiring.

Image courtesy of
“Off to Another Dimension”– Image courtesy of

I think back to where I was mentally/physically/emotionally just one short year ago, and then I look at where I am on those levels today. I never could have anticipated the changes or the joy of truly extending my proverbial wings and flying the way that I do now. It makes me wonder what the future will hold, and for once I am filled with a wild hope that every single one of my dreams is indeed possible. It also makes me wonder what I will experience that is beyond the limits of my current imagination.


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