Last week I had a book signing at the local Ivy Bookshop in my hometown of Baltimore. The Ivy- wedged between a Blockbuster and a men’s clothing store just a mile from my house- has been a part of my book journey from the very beginning.
I had fallen into a good routine with the writing- after dropping the children off at school I would sit down in front of my laptop and start to write. It took about four hours of writing before the silence would start to bother me and the loneliness would set in. It was then that I knew I needed to head to the Ivy. It felt good to be surrounded by the books that covered every possible inch of the little store. I would usually buy a book, but the real reason I was there was because of Bonnie, Shirley, Alice and Greg. Every time I walked into the store they would ask me how the book was coming and they would say, “One day we will have a book signing party for you.”
For a long time no one knew I was writing a book. But my friends at the Ivy did, and for two years they encouraged me and pushed me along. I never thought the day would come when my book would be lining the Ivy shelves, much less find a place in the front window, but it did. As Josie’s Story tiptoed into the world, the book events began to fill my calendar- with the Ivy event set for Sunday, September 13.
I wasn’t sure what would be worse: standing in front of 1,000 health care professionals- total strangers- or standing in front of the community in which I lived. What if no one showed up? What if they hated the book?
The Sunday afternoon was beautiful- not too hot. The sun had lowered itself behind the building just enough to provide the perfect amount of shade for the guests who sat outside in chairs that were lined up amphitheater-style. Tables of food surrounded the edges.
Dr. Peter Pronovost- a doctor from Hopkins who over the years had not only become a partner in my quest to improve patient safety, but had become my friend- introduced me to the guests. As I had seen so many times before, Peter captivated the audience with his brilliance, his charisma and his humility.
I had jotted down some notes on what I was going to say, but as I stood behind the podium I realized that I didn’t need my notes. These were my friends, my family. I’ve learned that sometimes- actually, always- it is best just to speak from the heart. It does not matter who is in the audience- whether it is a large group of nurses and doctors or a small group of family and friends. All that matters is the message. If you have a message that you are passionate about, it will just sort of find its way from your head, through your heart, and right on out into the world.
I signed books with Sam my seven-year-old by my side. Friends would ask him to sign his name next to mine. With a black Sharpie pen gripped tightly between his little fingers, he concentrated hard and signed his name in perfect Calvert script. It became a book signing not just for me, but for my entire family with Jack, Relly and Eva filling requests to sign their names alongside Sam’s. This was not just my journey. This was their journey, their story.
Thank you to Darielle Linehan and the Ivy Bookshop for getting so behind Josie’s Story. Not only did they put on a beautiful event, but they also agreed to donate a portion of their proceeds to the Josie King Foundation. The little Ivy Bookshop is truly a bookstore with a heart- a BIG heart- and a desire to make a difference in people’s lives.
Thank you to Peter Pronovost, whose work continues to transform health care for us all.
Most of all, thank you to my family and friends for coming out to support Josie’s Story.