Something amazing happened to me this week.
No, I didn’t Meet Anyone.
You forget I’m dead below the waist.
Meeting Someone stopped being my goal a long time ago.
My new goal is Being Someone.
In other words, I’ve stopped looking for happiness outside myself and started looking elsewhere.
Like, to my dogs.
They always come through.
Or my cat.
She never comes through, but I still keep trying.
Cat people will understand this, and so will the wildly dysfunctional. The mentally healthy will shake their heads, uncomprehending.
These days, looking within for happiness is called self-care, but it used to be called Me Time.
Or maybe Happy Hour.
But, really, I think it’s Chilling the Hell Out.
Or Class, Wisdom, and Perspective.
Yes, I’m feeling contemplative today, having had the great thing happen to me, and enough beating around the bush — I’ll get to the point.
As you know, I’m an author and I write two novels a year and also the nonfiction series with Francesca, which collects Chick Wit columns and original ones that we write for the books. And all of these books are best sellers, thanks to all of my wonderful readers like you.
But secretly, I have been hoping that one of my books would reach number one on the best-seller list.
Yes, I have a dark side.
Regular readers knew that already.
If you’re new around here, you’ve been warned.
I wanted to reach number one because I wanted to be able to say to myself just once before I die that my hardcover book was the most-bought book in America that week. I’ve written 31 novels and co-authored eight memoirs, and each time any one of them is published, I have hoped that I get to be number one.
And that just happened!
My book After Anna was published on April 10, and I did the tour as usual in independent bookstores, chain bookstores, and big-box stores that sell my books. I love to tour because I meet readers who like my books. The signings are always fun, because readers who don’t like my books don’t come.
Nobody misses them.
Least of all me.
But secretly I’d been seeing the sales do well, and I’d been wondering if number one was a realistic possibility this time around, after 30 years of not getting there.
I never give up.
Not unless it’s the wise thing to do.
I’m referring, of course, to Thing One and Thing Two.
Wiser would’ve been not getting started in the first place, but we’ll leave that aside for now.
So let me take you behind the scenes in publishing, because the day when authors find out how the book did in the first week on sale is Tuesday morning, because Barnes & Noble releases its best-seller list.
And After Anna was number one.
I was delighted and thrilled, but I’ve been number one at Barnes & Noble before and not reached number one on a best-seller list.
But then, a couple of hours later, I got the best-seller list from Nielsen Bookscan, which is the actual list of hardcover books sold, and there was After Anna, at number one in fiction.
I’ve never had as good an orgasm.
Nobody else has, either.
It was amazing, after 30 years of trying to do something, to have finally achieved it. I called up Francesca and we squealed and squealed, and I told Franca, Nan, Paula, Katie, and all my friends, and then my amazing best friend Laura surprised me with Champagne and flowers, and we jumped up and down in glee. She and I have worked together for all of the 30 years, trying to reach this goal, so it was a very sweet moment for both of us.
And then later that day, the New York Times best-seller list came in, and according to its weighted system, I wasn’t number one but number two, but by then, I didn’t even mind. In fact, the USA Today best-seller list had yet a third author as number one, because she sold more in combined print and e-book, and I was already developing an amazing perspective that I’d never had before.
Because nowadays, there are best-sellers lists every which way from Sunday, including print, e-book, combined print and e-book, and self-published, and I realized that reaching number one was terrific but something of an illusion.
Because there was more than one number one.
And none of the other number ones took anything away from my number one.
I’m not good at math, but it’s not a zero-sum game.
I got the number one I wanted, which was being the author of the best-selling hardcover novel in the United States for one week of my life.
Now I can die happy.
But I won’t.
Die, that is.
So being number one still meant something.
Just not everything.
In fact, what meant more was the love and happiness it brought to Francesca and all my friends, as well as the enormous gratitude I felt to each and every one of my readers, for making this dream come true.
And in the end, you know who’s number one to me?
Look for Lisa and Francesca’s new humor collection, “I Need a Lifeguard Everywhere But the Pool,” and Lisa’s new best-selling domestic thriller, “After Anna,” in stores now. firstname.lastname@example.org.