Book birthday

birthday book

On Tuesday (Or Sunday, if you ask Amazon……..) my first book came out.

A year or so ago, I listened to an interview with Tom Lennon (from The Odd Couple). The interviewer asked how it felt to have “made it” in his career. Lennon said something about having worked so long and hard that he’d built up sort of an armor. Not that it’s No Big Deal to have finally achieved success, but that it had been so long in coming it’s just a bit anticlimactic.

I feel this way, too. Muddy Waters is my third completed novel. It took about 18 months between initally querying agents to getting published. Before that, I queried the first two books for three years or so with varying degrees of success but no contract.

Writing your first book isn’t like winning the lottery. You’re not poor at 8:00 p.m. and filthy rich at 8:01. You don’t go from not-published to published overnight.

Is it like a marathon? Maybe. If you have tiny victories at random intervals and then by the time you cross the finish line, you’ve been running so long it’s all you’ve ever known and it’s just another day in your life, and then there’s still a 10K to run when you’re done with the 26.2 miles.

There were so many little milestones I celebrated but at no point did it feel like NOW THIS PART IS DONE.  There was the email from the acquisitions editor asking for the whole manuscript. There was another email asking for revisions. There was a call extending a contract. There was the cover design, the Amazon listing, the news that Audible would offer it as an audio book. There were a couple of meh reviews.

So when the book was actually alive and in the wild, it didn’t FEEL different, except that I have been anxious to the nth degree for about a week.* I don’t know what I expected but I don’t think this is it.

I’ve just been stressing over whether I’m doing the right thing with promotion? Is there something else I should do? Did I invite enough people to the launch party? Did I invite TOO MANY people to the launch party?

This is not to say that I’m not thrilled this has finally happened. But I get something now that I didn’t get before. I get the pressure we feel after putting something out there. I get why some authors write a book or two in the promised trilogy and then vanish. I’ve made a promise to the readers, to the publisher, to myself. And what if I can’t fulfill those promises? What if I do The Wrong Thing and the book tanks and everything sucks and my grand plan for the series is sucked into the hole?

I wish I was happier about it. I wish I was more at ease. I wish I felt less stress that my book is finally a reality. I wish I didn’t wake up in the middle of the night wondering when I will sit down to finish the second book, or terrified that I’ve missed some awesome opportunity.

 

*It does not help that I also lost my job last month, and as I haven’t had a single interview, my shoulders creep ever-closer to my ears.

The Spider on Social Media

Twitter-writer

Obviously I have a blog. I also make Tweets on the Twitter (@thwritingspider – follow me!). (And I have a Facebook page but that’s really just for me, Sara, not as the Writing Spider and it’s how I keep up with all my really lovely friends.

I love social media. I really do. I love reading funny things and being introduced to interesting concepts, books, people and suchlike. I love Facebook for seeing what my friends are doing and thinking, pictures of their wee bairns and dogs and new houses.  

I’m having a little problem with Twitter though. To a certain extent I have the same problem with this blog and that is, I want to build an audience for my writing. It’s what all the cool kids are doing and this might be my one shot in life to be a cool kid, right? But I’m not getting as big an audience as I wish. I know part of that is my inconsistent posting schedule.  

That’s another side note. Social media sometimes makes me feel like I’m back in fifth grade. Examples: seeing on Facebook that I didn’t get invited to this party or that dinner. The fact that I CANNOT seem to a) get more than 120 followers on Twitter or b) KEEP 118 followers on Twitter. And realizing some cool person has unfollowed me on Twitter. All of a sudden I’m back on the playground wondering why everybody hates me.

Ok, that’s a little bit of a hyperbole. But I’m betting you catch my drift, at least a little bit.

My Twitter plan is to follow agents, publishers and writers, as well as a few friends. Twitter is a weird world. You read other people’s stuff but since you don’t “know” them, you might not respond to their tweets. You don’t want to be that rando Twitter stalker person. You don’t want to tweet too much, or too little. Sometimes I follow agents to whom I wish to sent my work and then I feel weird about continuing to follow them after they’ve declined it.

So I’m re-committing myself to blogging. Which will automatically post on Twitter. We’ll see where that gets us.

RIP David Foster Wallace

     I had been planning to write something maybe funny and lighter than the last posts, but in light of the news of David Foster Wallace’s death, I cannot.

     My first encounter with Wallace’s writing was his collection of short works, Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, then a collection of essays, A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again. I was completely hooked by his use of language, footnotes, and sarcasm. If you and I have talked about books I have most likely insisted you read DFW. I probably offered you my copy to borrow. I probably tried to describe it all and failed miserably. 

     After reading that first book, I wanted my writing to grow up and be like his. I still do.

     Husband actually broke the news of his death to me as both of us sat at our respective desks in our offices. “David Foster Wallace is dead,” he called. I barked out a harsh, “WHAT?” and frantically started searching for the news. A friend had already posted DFW’s 2005 commencement speech at Kenyon.

     My first thought when learning of Wallace’s suidcide was, naturally, ‘Why?’ What demons propel a genius to take his own life? He was brilliant, and widely acknowledged to be so. For some perhaps that is not enough or maybe it’s just not the point. Nobody ever really knows why someone commits suicide. 

     I had a macabre conversation with a writer friend several years ago during which we decided that neither of us is ever going to be a famous writer because we come from pretty mild backgrounds – no alcoholics, abuse, etc. – and neither of us is an addict or has any mental health issues. (Not real ones anyway. People say I’m moody. I’m not. I just have an artistic temperament.) We are no Sylvia Plath or Anne Sexton or Virginia Woolf. It was a strange conversation and seems relevant now.

    I was going to write my little wordpress post and go read a book on writing I’m halfway finished with, but I think I’m going to read some DFW. Probably A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again because it’s about cruises and I don’t really want to go on a cruise either. And it’s funny which I hope will stem the tide of dismay and sadness I’m starting to feel.