I didn’t go see the fireworks this year. It was just too dang hot to press up against a bunch of strangers and ooh and ahh and slap mosquitoes.
And that’s too bad, because I really love them. I love the surprise each time one explodes into a shower of unnaturally-colored light. I love the concussion you feel in your chest when you’re close, and I love the way our neighborhood gathers on a hill where we can’t really see them very well but we’re far enough away that the little kids don’t get scared, and someone always has a boom-box tuned to the symphony playing the hokey 1812 Overture.
It’s kind of like the fireworks that writers get. When we have success—a great review or a foreign-rights deal or unexpectedly high sales—it’s always a surprise, even if it’s happened before and even if everyone assures us it will happen again. And we feel close to a bunch of strangers (someone who writes to tell us how much a book meant to them, a critic who gets and approves of what we’ve written) and near-strangers (fellow writers who know what we’re going through when a character refuses to do what we need them to do, an agent we’ve never met in person who bucks us up through rejections, an editor who passes on a project but asks to see something more).
We don’t celebrate our personal fireworks often enough. Maybe we’re superstitous—afraid that if we do, the next one will be a dud.
So here’s one for you, writers! Enjoy any fireworks that come your way, be they huge Roman candles or merely a handful of sparklers!