When I practiced as an RN many years ago, I had a chance to play a direct role in saving the life of a few people. It’s an incredible feeling, a mix of pride from a job well-done, humility from the fragility of life, and an inner warmth that fuels the self. It’s a feeling that never goes away, that becomes part of your very being, and that you’re grateful every day to have felt it.
I’m not sure I’ve ever felt anything like that since I left nursing, but I have to tell you, holding a book you’ve written and that just arrived from the printer comes pretty, pretty, pretty close.
I recently received a copy of my book, Donora Death Fog: Clean Air and the Tragedy of a Pennsylvania Mill Town, in the mail, and I love it. The folks at the University of Pittsburgh Press did an outstanding job on it, and I am hugely appreciative of their work. I love the soft, almost furry feel of the cover. I love the heft of it, the zffffffttt of the pages as I riffle through them. I worked hard on the book and, even with the flaws—Damn those flaws!—I just love looking at it and feeling it.
No, it’s not the same as saving a life, but it’ll do for now.