I didn’t write a bestseller. Heck, I’d be doing well if my publisher decides to do a reprint. Readers may take a chance on a $15.99 paperback rather than a $24.99 hardcover. But we’ll see.
I’ve been on a book tour for Paul’s Prayers: A Mother’s Account of Raising an Autistic Son. I try to combine personal out-of-town trips with a tagalong book signing. The most recent was in Jensen Beach, Florida, at the Barnes and Noble.
Oh, the places you will go, and the people you will meet!
I don’t expect a whole lot. I’m not a celebrity, not a well-known author. I don’t have a Stephen King or Danielle Steele platform. I don’t know if that’s in God’s plan for me. I’ve spent a lot of time praying the Litany of Humility prayer when it comes to my writing career.
Here it is:
O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed … Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being loved … Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being extolled …
From the desire of being honored …
From the desire of being praised …
From the desire of being preferred to others…
From the desire of being consulted …
From the desire of being approved …
From the fear of being humiliated …
From the fear of being despised…
From the fear of suffering rebukes …
From the fear of being calumniated …
From the fear of being forgotten …
From the fear of being ridiculed …
From the fear of being wronged …
From the fear of being suspected …
That others may be loved more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be esteemed more than I … Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That, in the opinion of the world, others may increase and I may decrease …
That others may be chosen and I set aside …
That others may be praised and I unnoticed …
That others may be preferred to me in everything…
That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should …
I cut and pasted this prayer jewel in bold, because it should be the loudest in my heart. More of Jesus, and less of me; you know.
All the above to say that my book signing was a reveal of quality over quantity.
There wasn’t a line out the door.
But … I did have a couple who were waiting for me to arrive. Ha, ha. It turns out that they are Redemption card players. Redemption is a Bible trading card game that my husband Rob Anderson invented back in the 90’s and it has quite a loyal following, still. This young man introduced himself as being a pastor in the Orthodox Church and how Redemption had a huge influence on his personal life of faith.
He said he wanted to support me too, but was Rob with me too? He really wanted to meet Rob! Ha, ha. “Well, I’m the next best thing. No, Rob is at home. I’m solo on my book signing.” But then we took a picture together and I signed a copy of Paul’s Prayers for him.
Then there was a kid (I say kid because he looked about my kid’s age) who worked there. I’d seen him on the Barnes and Noble Jensen Beach Facebook page. He was cordial and conversational, asking me about writing and publishing, and then tugging at his headset, he looked up at the checkout line and saw customers waiting and he said, “Gotta go.” When his shift was over, he asked to have a picture with me. I was so flattered!
A nice couple approached me. They both had the same name. We’ll call them Dean and Deannie. He is a retired police officer who is currently involved in tracking devices for people at risk of wandering. These are used with patients with Alzheimer’s and now primarily used with autistic people. They’ve made over 3500 rescues, nationwide! He bought a copy of my book to put in a library. We took a picture as well.
There was another attractive lady who came in with her adult daughter and a grandchild. She was also an author of Florida history. I’m always jazzed by Florida history. She retrieved her pictorial historical book on Indiantown, Florida. I asked her if she minded standing in line with my Barnes and Noble discount card and cash to buy her book for me. “Of course,” she said. So, I signed a copy of Paul’s Prayers for her, and she signed her book, for me!
A young lady came in and I got right in her space. I asked, “Can I tell you about my book?” She smiled wide and said, “Sure.” She and I had an endearing conversation about getting healthy, physically, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. We decided to keep in touch by email. She was curious about my Catholic faith. May Our Lady have led her to Barnes and Noble that day? I believe she may have because as Our Lady has shared more than once, “There are no coincidences.” She bought a copy of my book. I’m hoping she likes the chapter on “Stress,” because that’s where I really unpack the graces of Rosary prayer.
Then there was a sweet young couple who came in, blindsided by my ‘get in your face’ approach. When I asked, “Hey, can I tell you about my book?” the young woman said, “Okay …” drawing it out like a piece of salt water taffy. This was impressive since she was originally a New Yorker. I could tell she was sort of curious and sort of just being polite.
I gave them my spiel and she turned to the back cover and asked wide eyed, “You know Phillip Gerard?”
I said, “Yes, I took a master writing class with him at a conference a few years ago. He agreed to give me a blurb on my book.”
“Oh, my g!” she said, “He was my professor for three years when I completed my MFA at UNCW.”
Say what? Talk about a small world. We talked a long time and although they didn’t buy my book, they took a picture of the cover to show a friend who had an autistic child. I gave them my business card and said, “Don’t forget about me.”
There were a few more valuable encounters.
Going back to praying “The Litany of Humility,” I ruminate on the moments with each person; each soul.
Each took his or her precious time to talk with me, to listen, to be present.
I am impressed with the personal exchange I had with each person.
Isn’t that how it is with Jesus?
I’m continually reminded of the two disciples traveling the Emmaus road. “Didn’t our hearts burn within us?” So personal. So relational. In the breaking of the bread.
When I wrote the book, I tried very hard to write for the reader. Who was my reader?
It is important to note that I didn’t think of the word ‘reader’ in a plural sense.
I thought of the mom who just found out her son is autistic.
Maybe the dad who endures fits of rage with his adult autistic son. He reacts to his dad’s sneezes or his mom accidentally dropping her keys on the floor. The noise drills right through his sensitive skull.
I wrote for the reader who has no time to read, no time to relax, because she’s running to the emergency room because her child is having seizures.
My heart continues to crack and bleed for the mom who changes her daughter’s diapers, when she should be helping her with college applications.
I wondered if my writing might reach a grandparent who tries to understand, tries to support, and loves as our heavenly Father loves his children. Grandparents who wonder what happened to their grandson? How? Is it genetic? We’ve never seen this before.
Not everyone will care about autism or be the slightest bit interested. It’s not their cross to bear.
But for those who carry this cross, those who are like me, maybe it will speak to them.
Because here’s the thing …
As a mother, you’d take your son’s place, in a heartbeat.
As a Christian, you know you can’t.
What you can do is be a Simon of Cyrene.
You can help your autistic son carry the heavier cross.
As time goes on, the newness of my book will wane, and it will be shelved and forgotten.
But the story continues.
Not just for my son, because he is only one, but not the only one.
Stories like mine are taking place all over the United States. Autism rates are now at 1 in 56, 1 in 36, depending on where you live.
We need awareness.
We need prayers.
In this layer of society, like all layers,
We need God.
Copyright 2018 Susan Anderson