I have a cold for the second time in a month.
My skin’s the worst it’s been since I was pregnant.
I’d be sleeping ten, twelve hours a night if I could.
I am lucky, I am grateful. I’m in the aftermath of a lifelong dream come true. But I’m not getting those 10+ hours a night.
Most days, I have one or two radio interviews scattered somewhere in my day.
Ten minutes, half an hour. They usually call me. I can’t use headphones, for sound quality. It’s the only time anymore that I actually talk into my actual phone.
Wisconsin, Southern California, Connecticut. (That one especially pleased me, talking to someone so relatively nearby.)
I’m content for them, they’re a promo opportunity for me. Though I try not to think of it like that. I try to think of it as talking to people, and I wish it felt more like that, but I’m tired. The outward energy of performance and the inward energy of creative work, it turns out, are pretty incompatible, and can’t be easily toggled between.
Friday I recorded a podcast for two hours. But on podcasts I feel like I can actually talk, conversation instead of questions.
Yesterday interlocutor asked me what question I like answering. I gave him instead a question I don’t have a good answer for: anything to do with UFOs.
“Noted. I can’t promise I won’t ask about them, but noted.”
He asked anyway. I had an answer anyway.
Of course this is work, it’s a job. Just like writing isn’t the mystical muse singing in your ear.
So having a book come out isn’t laurels and all your heroes welcoming you into a secret club.
The real secret club is built of text messages and instagram DMs, its members a loose network of other authors with other books coming out within a month or so of yours.
We lose our voices, we get colds, we furtively complain about the experience we’re scared to complain about.
We celebrate each other, texting, “VANITY FAIRRRRRRR” or “BESTSELLERRRRRRR” or “that review was bullshit and I’ve never even heard of that website, it’s just a blip, he sounded bitter, anyway”
The gripes are furtive because, woe is me, people want to talk to me about my book, want to talk about my book on their airwaves. That’s what I want, right?
Should I just be quoting the entirety of Into the Woods at you instead?
And to get what you wish, only just for a moment— These are dangerous woods.
Getting what I want has made me learn about what I actually need.
Other writers shy away from the spotlight, not me, I’ve always said *waves her undergrad theatre degree in your face* I know myself, have the story I tell myself about myself. What I love, my flaws (the intertwinedness of the two). I know the story. But there’s nothing I believe in so much as revision.
The day my book came out was a whirlwind. Not because of the book, but because of life. I woke up, helped get my kid out the door, drove an hour to campus to teach. Taught, drove an hour home. Did a virtual visit with my doctor to get rx cough meds (this was one cold ago; I’m onto the next one now). Did an instagram live (a book event!) and then went with my family to our friends’ house for dinner, while our children ran feral.
The night before I’d taken a selfie and posted it to instagram: “Goodnight from my last night as not a published author” (or something)
(My mom always texts or calls me the night before my birthday: “Happy last day of being [whatever age]”)
But amid the sea of life stuff (kid, class, doctor, dinner), my book had been published.
Elon Musk can take so much away from us, but not yet congrats twitter.
But where was the glow of the attention and praise?
I mean: The attention and praise were there, why wasn’t I glowing?
I thought I felt a little hollow because I was anxious about my book event in nyc the next night, anxious about the fact that I’d have to drive home right after (or rather, sleep in the car while Tanner would drive) so I could teach again the following morning.
Pub day came about a year after I finished my work on the book. But it’s not just too late, to celebrate, it’s too early.
I had to ask my agent recently, what happens next? Just the beginning, long tail, marathon not a sprint.
All winter, I was desperate for the leaves to come back. Forty years on this Earth and I only recently learned to stop expecting them in March every spring.
Just before my book came out, the first haze of green.
On pub day the leaves were still light, hinting the yellow or red they’d return to at the end of the season.
Every day things were a little greener, and I felt gratitude and awe. Now it’s the rich green of summer, and you think it’s going to last forever, and it breaks your heart when it’s done.
I don’t know how far the metaphor goes, and it’s not even a metaphor. I loved spring this year—a fact. And publishing my book was a culmination, and also just the beginning.
And writing a book about space made me fall in love with the trees and birds in my backyard, and that all happened before pub day.
That part’s mine.
And it’s in the book, too, so it’s everyone’s.
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So relatable it hurts!
That last one! <3