My first review for Minion came in not long ago, from a well-respected source in the book-reviewing milieu. It was positive, good news all around, something to be proud of. You can read it here (it should take you three seconds). It was only lacking one thing: a star.
It should be said that this was not a big deal. While I am proud of the book and happy to have it out there in the world, I am not the kind of person who requires constant affirmation in the form of smiley face stickers and exclamation points. My parents raised me a decade or so before the "everyone gets a trophy" philosophy became commonplace. I'm not even sure what a star next to a review means. I imagine it is the something akin to the boxes we used to check in second grade: Do you like me? Do you like me like me? I suppose if the reviewer likes likes a book, it gets a star. But I digress. The point of the story is that as I was sharing the review with my wife, my nine-year-old son overheard me mention the lack of starage. He immediately stopped what he was doing, grabbed a marker and an index card, scribbled furiously for five seconds, and then handed me this:
Normally, given the sarcastic nature of my family, I would have taken this as a form of mockery. Except I know my son. He is my number-one fan. He reads my books when they are still in their infancy, before my agent or editor has had a peek. These were genuine stars. Hand crafted and hand delivered. Fifteen of them. A surplus. I could keep one for Minion and bank the rest against future starless reviews. Or I could spend them all now and win a Newberry or something.
Needless to say, I was touched. Like end-of-Toy-Story-3 touched. I took the constellation-covered index card and told him thanks while my wife made the sound she makes when she sees little baby duckies waddling behind their mother. My son, apparently unfazed by my sniffling, went back to whatever it was he was doing; his work here was done. I went into the office and set the index card next to my stuffed wookie and my voodoo doll Mark Twain to remind me of why I do what I do. Not just writing, but fatherhood too. Because there's little that compares to the feeling that you get knowing that somebody out there thinks you're awesome. I only hope he thinks that a few years longer.
With only a few books under my belt I realize I am only a rookie at this business. With any luck there will be hundreds more reviews in my future. Not all of them will be good. Certainly they won't all have stars. But that's okay.
I've got the next fourteen covered, at least.