[Behind the Book] Am I Proud? Yes and No
Written by
Sheila Grinell
September 2017
Written by
Sheila Grinell
September 2017

Toward the end of my forty-year career as a developer of science museums, I began to write fiction, and voila! a new career emerged. I gave a talk about my new life at a bookstore last month standing in front of a display wall on which ten copies of my debut, Appetite, were spread.  At Q&A time, one of the listeners pointed to the display and asked, “When you look at your book there, does it feel like the same kind of accomplishment as starting a science museum?”  My answer was a quick “no.” Here’s why.

photo of Arizona Science Center

Walking around the Arizona Science Center while I was CEO, I felt completely, happily immersed in the place. All the sights, sounds, and smells were familiar, and many things, big and small, bore my personal imprint.  At any given time I felt attached to hundreds of people; families interacting with our exhibits, staff members, trustees and city officials who also cared. I was tremendously proud of the difference I’d help make in people’s lives, and humbled by the responsibility to keep things going well. 

When I think about Appetite, I do not see a bookstore display in my mind’s eye, or even the carton of 32 books sitting in my spare room waiting to be lugged to library events. I do not think of the 52 comments on Amazon or the great review in Booklist. I think, instead, of how I could have written a different ending, and of whether the young woman in Novel #2 (in progress) sounds too much like the young woman I already wrote. I do not have warm, cozy feelings. I am discontent; I am spurred on to do more writing and to experiment with voice and style.

If something breaks at the Science Center, they can fix it. If a reader doesn’t like some aspect of my novel, too bad for me. I can only hope that reader will give my work a second look.

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  • Evalyn Johnson

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