Today I received this Facebook message from one of my most darling friends:
"So at what point in the next 8 days will you not be able to sleep out of the stress of your book release? I just want to know so I can text you at 2am if you're up anyway. :-)"
Without batting an eye, I replied:
"It's sort of low-key, actually... I don't have a book-release party (which kind of bums me out, honestly), the radio interviews are at about a one-a-day rate, the next book is going well, etc. On the 27th the book will be released, and then poof, it will just be on shelves and I'll sit at my computer and obsessively monitor sales at Amazon's Author Central."
Unfortunately, I'm what you could call a "highly suggestible person." I once went on a six-month organic-food obsession, way back when you could buy such things only at specialized grocery stores for ghastly amounts of money, while I was completely broke, because a random woman at a child's playgroup shot me a scornful look for mentioning that I bought conventional. On another occasion of note, I joined the LDS Church after I saw a Mormon woman I respected reading "The Diaries of Sylvia Plath." Hey, I love Sylvia Plath too! Sign me up!
Maybe I'm simplifying that last one just a bit, but the story is still true. And so all my dear friend E. had to do was ask if I was feeling nervous at all, and after denying it with an honest heart, I went on to send my editor and agent separate anxiety-ridden emails about every aspect of my book's release.
Part of this is my own fault. Just last night I was telling another dear friend, L., that I would feel like I had won at life if I ever made the New York Times bestseller list and saw my book on the shelves at Target. C'mon, who wouldn't? I'm the self-aggrandizing bastard who posted the video for "Centerfield" on Facebook the day I (finally) got a literary agent. I suppose I was feeling scrappy after my reply to E., because I decided take a look at the NYT list of trade paperback fiction to size up the competition.
That wasn't my brightest move. This is the stuff of which a dozen John Hughes films are made-- the scrawny and awkward teenager peeking into the locker room, or the cafeteria, or the gym while Prom is in full swing, and blanching pure white at the sight of all those tanned, buff, beautiful people who have actually completed puberty and are clothed in designer labels. After reading down that list-- The Help, Room, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Water for Elephants, Little Bee, etc, etc-- I closed out the tab, shut my laptop, and retreated to the pantry to find the Mallomars my aunt sent me last week.
The book will be out in eight days. I have no idea whether I'll ever be a New York Times bestselling author, or a for-sale-at-Target author, but come what may, I'll be an author. It's already been a hell of a ride-- more amazing than I ever hoped for. I have so many stories left to write, and that's the point of it all-- not the sales numbers, not travel or recognition, but the opportunity to write stories and share them with lots and lots of people.
If you see me weeping at Target, pat me on the shoulder and remind me about that.