My official book launch date for World Piece is tomorrow, September 21, International Day of Peace. That said, the book has already been available for about a week, thus the release has been a slow roll-out versus a singular moment—a tide coming in instead of a wave crashing on the sand. Unfortunately, it doesn’t make the launch any easier. It’s still a big ocean out there where anything can happen.
I went on my World Piece pie-making journey seven years ago, though it didn’t take me seven years to write the book. I wrote another book during those years, about my four years living in the American Gothic House, a time that was maybe even more adventurous than circumnavigating the earth. That book didn’t get published, but even when you write a book that doesn’t sell, nothing is wasted, because it took me in an unexpected direction and I rewrote it as a TV pilot and a feature film script. I had never written a script before and it turns out I love writing in that format. Visualizing how the story will look on a screen, writing all that dialogue, and being able to fictionalize it came naturally to me. But trying to sell a TV or film project is even more difficult than selling a book! Even if it never gets made, it doesn’t matter because I loved doing it. I learned a new skill and stretched myself beyond my comfort zone.
Also in the past seven years I oversaw the paperback publication of my first memoir, Making Piece, and of my cookbook, Ms. American Pie, giving a new life to the books, both of which I’m very proud. I also published Hausfrau Honeymoon: Love, Language, and Other Misadventures in Germany, the prequel to Making Piece, about my relationship with Marcus and my unexpected struggle to adapt to his German culture—and his language. (German is so hard to learn!!) It’s funny, sometimes outrageous, and romantic, and for once it’s not about pie.
There were other things that side-tracked me in these past seven years: the passing of my dad in 2017, the loss of Jack (my terrier) in 2019, the splintering of democracy, and the upheaval of COVID. Throughout all of this I carried the weight of World Piece and how the book remained unfinished. I always had a goal to write about my round-the-world travels, about all the places pie took me, the people I met, and the lessons I learned. But it was difficult to write about world peace when it seemed more elusive than ever.
I know how precarious life is—Marcus dying so unexpectedly at age 43 taught me that—which is why I often think about what I still want accomplish before my time is up. One thing was clear: I did not want to leave this planet without telling my story. So I got busy. I focused. I became fully, completely, obsessively determined. And now my book is making its way into the world, its lively pages contained between its bright cover—a blue sky, a red suitcase with a rolling pin strapped to it, and a horizon that leads to who knows where.
It’s done! It’s published! So why do I feel so . . . out of sorts?
My friend Nan, a screenwriter explained, “After I finish a project, I feel a little empty, like ‘I worked so hard, now what? What’s next?’ So what you’re feeling is normal.”
Her note was very much appreciated, and it helped, but “empty” wasn’t quite the right word. It took going for a three-mile walk on the gravel road to conclude that what I’m feeling is “vulnerable.” By sharing my story, I am exposing myself to the world. This is beyond just standing naked in front of an audience revealing my dimpled skin—I’ve unzipped my flesh jacket, laying bare the deepest parts inside of me, all the way down into my raw and troubled soul. It’s so unsettling I want to crawl under my cotton sheets and cry.
But then another word came to me as I continued on my walk through the cornfields: “Trust.”
Exposing myself—every part of me—in an honest way is what I do. It’s what I’ve always done—when talking about my grief in Making Piece, when revealing my struggles in my marriage in Hausfrau Honeymoon, and when pouring my guts out in pretty much every blog post I’ve ever written. Without fail, I have always been met with compassion and kindness from my readers.
I have to trust that this time will be no different.
My trust should already be bolstered by the quotes I got from other authors for my book cover. The quotes were glowing compliments, but it was in their private emails to me where I found the most encouraging words. One said, “You have something very special here.” Another said, “This is life-changingly good.”
Life changing? If my World Piece memoir can change someone’s life for the better, or help make the world a better place in even the smallest of ways, then the 30,000 miles traveled, the hundreds of pies baked, the very long, exhausting hours spent at my desk—and above all, the terrifying vulnerability—will have been worth it. I have done my best to tell the most honest story I could, and I trust that that honesty is what the world needs right now—maybe even more than pie.
If you’re interested in having me speak to your group, do a reading at a bookstore, or have an idea for an event, please get in touch. XO Beth