(posting a few hours early :) )
Today is November 29, 2011. It is the day my first novel, Legend, releases in bookstores.
I’m sitting in the little living room of the bungalow I share with my boyfriend, buried under a pile of dogs (I have three—two corgis and a Chihuahua), and attempting to not hyperventilate into a paper bag. Playing the ‘Finding Nemo’ theme song on repeat is probably not helping, either. (Could there BE a more depressing theme? I want to bawl every time I hear it. Oh, Nemo! You adorable little gimpy-finned fish egg! Anyway. I digress.) Is it really The Day? How do I articulate the avalanche of emotions going through my head? How do I even begin to communicate this? Today, my twelve-year journey of trying to get published officially comes to an end, and I will have stepped through the looking glass to the other side.
Sorry, I may get a little metaphorical and cheesy, but come on! You only get a debut novel release date once in your life. (Well, once in your country, anyway…) Cut me some slack, yeah? Besides, I like cheese. It’s very delicious.
For some reason, the only thing I can picture in my head is my fourteen-year old self, back when I first started trying to get published. I remember setting my alarm for 2 AM every night, then writing by lamplight for two hours with a robe stuffed under my door so that no one would know I was awake. Out of all my writing memories, this is the one I see the most clearly. I remember everything about those late-night writing sessions. How quietly I tried to type on that old IBM computer. How annoyingly hot the lamp would get. How chilly the nights in winter were, and how stuffy the summers felt (this was taking place in Houston, by the way). How sometimes I’d pass out in front of the computer from sheer exhaustion, then wake up after half an hour and keep going. I’m fairly convinced that I might have gotten a few more A’s in school if I’d gotten more full nights of sleep. But I can’t say that I regret it. For any of my high school teachers who might be reading this, now you know why I occasionally looked glassy-eyed in your class. I promise I still loved learning! I just…lacked sleep…
I was incredibly naïve at fourteen, so blissfully unaware of how long the journey would really take. In fact, I think I had less fears back then than I do now. It’s the day Legend launches and I am scared, so very scared. Eat-a-pint-of-ice-cream-by-myself scared. There are a thousand expectations I’ve created for myself, and so far to fall. Am I any good? Will readers be disappointed? Will they like the story? Will they like the characters? Will they egg my door? Should I change my address? Move to the Alps and hide in obscurity and shame? The closer I got to seeing Legend on the shelves, the more I understood why a lot of writers are a little wonky in the head. I feel the wonk quite strongly now.
But just when I think the pressure and terror might swallow me whole, I remember that I’m walking a well-trodden path. There are hundreds of thousands, millions, of writers who have taken this road before, and I’m just one traveler in a group of many, many others. I’m not alone. I remind myself that a lot of people held my hand through the bumps in the road. I remember that I have so much more to learn. I think of all the kind words and support people have given me during the time leading up to today, and those words help quell the fears.
It’s no secret that there has been a lot of upheaval in the book industry lately. A lot of bad blood, a lot of fear, a lot of anger thrown back and forth between all the cogs of the profession about contracts and technology and change, about money and percentages and formats and royalties. But in the midst of that, there are books—little bundles of words built on heart and soul that we tentatively push out to the public and then cross our fingers for. This has never changed. (Okay, except for Snooki. Maybe.) It reminds me that in spite of all our bickering, we all love books, we all love words, and we wait for these little moments, the quiet connection between our world and our readers’ world. This unites us, no matter what.
So… Thank you booksellers, thank you writers, thank you bloggers, thank you reviewers, thank you Penguin, thank you NLA and UTA, thank you CBS Films/Temple Hill, thank you family and friends, and thank you readers. Thank you, readers.
Thank you for giving me today.