Pandora’s Box Has Been Opened

If you show someone something you’ve written, you give them a sharpened stake, lie down in your coffin, and say, ‘When you’re ready’. – David Mitchell

Today I held my book, Grow Damn It, in my hand for the first time. It was not only surreal but surprisingly emotional. One of those freakish moments when time actually stands still. 

I admit, I wanted someone to film me opening the box, as thousands of first-time authors have done before me, and plaster it across the internet. I thought I could capture forever that first glimpse of my dream sliding out of the box and into my hand.

But that did not happen.

We were driving home from a weekend at the lake, both of us captive to our own issues, and the infamous box sitting innocently on the porch was opened with a kitchen knife. Oddly, I was almost afraid to reach inside, as if a snake would emerge from the bubble wrap and bite me.

When I dared to pull one out, it was smaller than I had imagined, slim, with my name boldly stamped across the bottom. 

I have no idea what to do with so many copies of the same book, but more so, I have no idea what to do with all these emotions threatening to escape my attempts at containment.

After placing a copy of Grow Damn It on the mantel, I feel conflicted, as if some sort of emotional warfare was stirring just below the surface. This is not at all the reaction I envisioned, but life rarely proceeds as expected.

When Larry slips out to visit his parents, I stand naked (metaphorically) before that damn book and cave to the sentiments that had been threatening my composure all weekend. 

I thank God sincerely, quietly, and profusely. 

What an incredible privilege it is to write, to be published, and to watch your dream become a reality. 

I’m no spring chicken, it’s sort of a now-or-never situation.

Deeply humbled and overly nostalgic, I whisper to my deceased parents, “I wish you were here,” and then I stand there, cradling the little book and crying like an idiot. 

I don’t know why, but I felt much better after my little sobfest. Don’t we all?

It’s as if I had properly honored the occasion and acknowledged the significance of this tiny moment, allowing all that pent-up gratitude to flow through me and into the world.

Running my hand across the cover, I read through the acknowledgments, and fan the pages as if a dear friend. It’s a book, not an entity, but it feels so real. Beloved.

It’s an odd thing to put your work into the world because you’re not only dealing with the fear of failure but exposure to a wider audience.

As Margaret Atwood claims, “Publishing a book is like stuffing a note into a bottle and hurling it into the sea.” Who knows where it will land or how the message will be received? 

You have to be able to withstand bad reviews, piss-poor Amazon rankings, and technical frustrations as you struggle through the Oz-like world of self-marketing, complete with poisonous poppy fields, flying monkeys, and a totally fake magician behind the curtain. 

My kids planned a family Zoom call on Thursday morning, my official launch date, which coincides with the beginning of Lent. I’m not sure if that is a good thing. I mean, how does a book compete with suffering, temptation, and death?

The truth is I look forward to being together as a family, I need them, more than they’ll ever know, because I don’t want to stand here, naked, alone, and losing my shit. When did I become so insecure?

These are the people who cushion my life, especially when I’m brought to my knees, and I’m forever grateful.

Larry gets back, grabs a copy of the book right out of the box, and sits down to read it.

I say, “you’re reading it?”

He says, “yes, I’m going to read it.”

“Right in front of me.”


That seems somehow troubling. 

“Don’t bend it.”

“It’s a book. I’m bending it.”

I watch him from the corner of my eye, his expression is hard to read as he grazes intently through the pages.

Ten minutes later, he says, “I found an error.”

“Oh shit, don’t tell me.” I frown and say, “No, no, tell me.” And then, after a short pause, I say, “I don’t want to know.”

“I’ll keep the errors to myself.”

“That would be better.”

He returns to his reading, me to my blog, as the wind howls fiercely outside. It’s as if the weather is mimicking my emotional interior, ushering in our next storm, and suddenly the power goes out. 

Knowing I’m superstitious, but hoping this is not a scathing message from God, I brush those feelings off like the lights.

Larry heads out for his Tuesday night right with the guys. 

Damn! The next thing I know, my phone is dead, the internet is down, and I can’t make coffee. Does this sound vaguely familiar? 

I find myself alone in the dark with my little book.

By five o’clock, the house is freezing, I ignite the fire in the sitting room, and pour myself a glass of wine. I have no idea why I’m feeling so forlorn when I should be bubbling over with excitement as if champagne. I agree, sitting alone in the dark might have something to do with it. 

As Nora Ephron notes, “Insane people are always sure that they are fine. It is only the sane people who are willing to admit that they are crazy.”

I’m rescued from my own malaise by my granddaughter Audrey, who comes over to take a hot bath at our house after swim practice because we still have hot water despite the power outage. Her lips are blue. I fill the tub with hot steaming water, bring her a fresh towel, and sit with her while she soaks in the tub. She tells me about her day, describes some new kid at school, and tells me about the stories she’s been concocting in her head. 

I listen to every word. 

It’s what I needed. An innocent girl with a sweet smile and unconditional love. Isn’t that what we all want? To be loved for who we are and what we do regardless of the misspelled words, the mistakes, and the frailties of being human. 

Who knew all these emotions would come with the unpacking of a simple box? Life is peculiar. As Zora Neale Hurston says, “the idea of attempting a book seemed so big that I gazed at it in the quiet of the night but hid it away from even myself in daylight.”

I crawled into bed early tonight, all those emotions hijacked my appetite, and I was strangely exhausted. 

I think I’m waiting for that sharp stake to plunge through my life, impale the dream, so to speak, but the box has been opened, and all my misspelled thoughts have come kicking and screaming into the world. It’s been a labor of love, an arduous birth, but something was born, and all I can say is I hope it’s magical. 

Thank you seems miserably inadequate, it’s lacking the proper expression or the fullness of what I’m feeling. But that’s all I have in the face of all your preorders, encouraging messages, shout-outs, generosity, and support. I’m Living in the Gap, my gratitude runneth over, join me, let me know how your week going?

Grow Damn It is now available at:


Barnes & Noble

Black Rose Writing


Leave a Comment

    1. Thank you Brian, I appreciate your kind words and generous support. What a crazy and magical ride this has been indeed. I can’t believe it’s finally out there in the world. I’m overwhelmed and deeply humbled. Hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Aw, thank you Debbie, your constant encouragement and support have been phenomenal! I can’t thank you enough and by the way, we couldn’t have asked for better neighbors! All my love to you and Ron, hugs, C


    1. Pete, you are my hero! I woke up to this wonderful announcement and I’ve been smiling ever since! There are no words to properly thank you for all your generous support through the years and encouragement. Your good wishes mean the world to me, I’m forever grateful, much love and hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Cheryl, first congratulations on your wonderful achievement! I love the title of the book and its thoughts – reckon there will be quite a few I can relate to! Oh, I more than understand your hesitation in opening the box, I was exactly the same with my first book and my husband looked on bemused! It is an emotional moment, so much has been poured into this creation, it is both amazing and daunting to hold the final finished product in your hand. Please, celebrate and be happy for your success, read again the brilliant quotes here – it takes guts to release ones work and you’ve done just that!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Annika, thank you and I’m so pleased that you like the title! I hope the content resonates with you, it was my intention to encourage, inspire, and humor my readers. It’s such a strange experience to hold a dream in your hand, it’s hard to describe the mixed emotions and like you my husband was bemused! We’re celebrating with my kids this morning, popping some champagne, and enjoying our favorite breakfast burritos! Whoot! Hoot! Here’s to living on the edge and putting our work into the world. Hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Aw, thank you Carolyn, it has been an emotional and joyful ride. I woke up this morning to all these beautiful comments and good wishes and I’m flying high on all this generosity. Thanks for joining me in all the fray. Hugs, C


  2. It’s okay to have all those emotions pouring out. But it’s time to celebrate, you are a big deal!!!!
    AND I received my copy last night. It looks beautiful. So proud of you Cheryl.
    I’ll start reading it tonight and of course write about it and give you a wonderful review.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Belladonna! You are only the second person who has received their copy! Whoot! Hoot! I hope you enjoy my ramblings, musings, and stories. I can’t thank you enough for your generosity and support, you’ve been a fabulous inspiration! Much love and hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Congratulations Cheryl!! I ordered my copy of your book just now on Amazon, and I can’t wait to read it. Loved your blog post on getting the book and opening it to a flood of unanticipated emotions.

    I felt extra connected in a small way because on that very day I had parked at your house to go riding with Larry on our Tuesday night loop to Rock Bottom Brewery. I wish I had known you were inside holding your soul in print! I would have passed on the ride to inquire what it was all feeling like – but your blog was perfect. Now I really can’t wait to dive in.

    You’ve done what millions only dream about…. Write a book. That alone speaks to your thoughtfulness, discipline, and creativity. I’m confident the content will be superb.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What a sweet note Greg! Thank you. I hope you enjoy my rambling and musings on life. I’d love to hear your thoughts once you’ve had time to browse the stories, Larry is a prominent character so I’m sure some of it will resonate! I know you understand the drive to make your dream a reality, to hold the finished product in your hand, and pray that people will want to share in your little dream. I’m pulling for your pedal to be a raging success! I can’t thank you enough for your kind words and generous support! Hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I have your book on my Kindle, Cheryl, and I’ll be reading it in the next week. Yay. I loved your line: “What an incredible privilege it is to write, to be published, and to watch your dream become a reality.” So true, and that’s the gist of it, isn’t it? What a gift. And don’t worry about typos and stakes. Just enjoy the glow! Congrats!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Now I’m nervous! I’m living in your Kindle and I’m completely thrilled and honored but secretly hoping you love it! Might I suggest it pairs nicely with a pour of dry merlot, slice of blue cheese, and honey! I can’t thank you enough for your generous support Diana, your keen observations, and lively engagement! Hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow, Cheryl! I think you are right, it’s a lot like giving birth. Something that you have gestated is now out in the world and walking around! Congratulations!! I hope the power is back on. I’ve got my copy – can’t wait to read it and then talk to you about it!! Wuhoo!


  6. I can’t imagine what it must be like to publish a book. A very big congratulations to you, I was so excited about this announcement because I’ve been looking forward to your book for a while now. You’re one of my favourite writers on WordPress. I’m off to purchase the book!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hearty Congratulations Cheryl! I have been enjoying and laughing through your blog for a year now, and was delighted to see that this book was on Kindle at an affordable and portable price. I got it and can’t wait to start reading. I see so much of myself and my experiences reflected in bits of your stories. I think we are from the same generation too. Wanted to wish you and your family all the best, indefinitely. Peace, Annie✌🏽💖🎶🎨📚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Annie! Your words are so kind and generous. I’m thrilled that my experiences resonate with you and maybe bring you some laughter and joy. I love knowing I’m not alone in this life and that we all travel many of the same roads. I appreciate your good wishes. Wrapping you in love and hugs, C


  8. Hi Cheryl! Shitty week here, but I believe there is a bright, shiny flip side in reach. My book arrived, and I’m ready to Grow Damn It! I stand with Darlene Waltrip—your writing always resonates. I’m diving in now. Go Cheryl! Go Cheryl! 👏🏻 Congratulations!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Crystal, I’m so sorry you had a shitty week! Wish I could take you out for a glass of wine and some bacon covered dates! Of course, you can partake without me, but it won’t be the same. So glad your copy of Grow Damn It arrived and Darlene’s sweet words made sense to you. I bawled when I read her comment but I’m rather sensitive and highly emotional. DNA, what can you do? I’m sending prayers your way, “Crystal needs a better week, a fabulous month, and extraordinary year,” ~ let’s just cover all the bases! Much love and hugs to you my friend, C


      1. ❤️❤️❤️

        And we connect on that rather sensitive and highly emotional level, Cheryl. Sometimes those comments meet us when we need it…for example, this one and your prayer. I’ve been meditating on the positive in my conversations with God because I believe in the power of good vibrations. And your words I will remember during my quiet times. Thank you, my friend. Feeling the love and send much back!


  9. Hello!
    Wow! We arrived home late last night after a hard day of travel, and low and behold, there was a package. And in that package was a book. Well, oh shit, there goes bedtime. It looked like I was going to be tired today. And I was. I truly enjoyed opening your book, thumbing through the pages, and getting a glimpse at your triumph. Way to go.
    Congrats. You did it. And just to let you know, I have not found any mistakes. I do have to say that seeing the picture of Dante’s car gave me the willies (again.) I will keep you posted as I continue to read. And yes, you are still not pedaling.

    Can’t wait to see you all and dissect the book and the writing experience over a case of wine.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s amazing to think that half way across the country you are holding my book in your hand! It feels as if I’ll wake up and all of it will be one of those realistic dreams that you can’t seem to shake. This has been one hell of a learning experience as I’ve stumbled my way through the publishing maze. It’s a daunting process to say the least. And now AI is publishing entire novels in minutes. It makes me wonder how this will change what we read in the future? I am overjoyed to hear no mistakes so far! Music to my ears. And yes, can’t wait to open a nice Tempranillo and dive into the experience. It’s going to get messy! Thanks for all the support and encouragement from you and Gail through this whole process, I’m forever grateful. Hugs, Cheryl


    1. Thank you Aaysid, I’m just seeing all these comments I missed. I guess it’s been busy since the launch. But life is calming down now and I’m enjoying finding all these hidden gems I missed. Hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

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