Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Fear and Bravery

“You were so brave to write this book.”
“This is a story that needed to be told.”
“Thank you for writing this book.”
“Weren’t you afraid?”
“Aren’t you afraid?”

These are the things I’ve heard the most on tour for The Orchard. Some come with hugs and tears, some with hand-wringing and worry. And fear. Whispers of things seen, but never shared. Reports sent to government agencies, stacks of them, ignored, covered up.

Hopelessness. Helplessness.

And yes, I was afraid. And yes, I am afraid. Fear holds all of us back at different points in our lives. It’s okay to be afraid, especially if we push through it. Especially if we can use that fear to drive us forward.

You meet it, and you take it with you, and you use it for fuel.

I often asked myself what my legacy would be if I did not tell this story. I owed it to myself, my children, and the biggest key player of all, someone who wanted this story told to the world. Someone who never had a voice.

I was asked to do two things—plant a birch tree in a very specific location, and write this story.

The birch tree (a tree that symbolized a different geographical location and freedom) didn’t happen because I was unable to get permission to plant it, and the story took me a while, but I did it.

I’ve always been an observer of life, not a participant. But sometimes we reach a point where we know it’s time to participate. It’s time to speak up. And if people think major publishing houses don’t have a heart and soul, the publishing of The Orchard is proof that they do. They have big hearts, and they have big souls. And they know an important book when they see it. Yes, it was brave of me to write this book, but it was brave of Hachette/Grand Central Publishing to publish it.

I applaud all of the unsung heroes within the publishing house who embraced this book. Editors, editorial assistants, marketing, reps, publicity. I think there's been a sense that this is bigger than individuals, and it isn't so much about numbers as it is about the world we live in, and the world we want to leave our children.

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