Monday, June 22, 2015

R.I.P--The Happy Life and Peaceful Death of a Small #Literary #Novel

When I published my first book, which was a short story collection, I was 29 years old. I didn't know that books had a life, and inevitably (for most authors), a quiet and peaceful death (if you're lucky). I thought everything just went on forever: the readings, the interviews, the people who read your book and told you about it. I also thought that there would be a way to build on the thing in order to make the next book bigger, better, and read by more people, which is something that happens for a few people, but not everyone. Because I was dumb, everything that happened with the first book felt like a disappointment, and I missed all the magic.  Youth is they say, so what can you do? For most of us, a published book is like an island of ecstasy in an sea of pain. That was the experience I had in publishing when I was young. 

I published Miracle Girls when I was 48, much wiser about life and much calmer about my place in it (thanks to this blog). I know that every book that is born, also will die, and I am hoping for a peaceful ending to this lovely, lovely year. Everything that happened to the book felt like a total miracle, even though I was the one behind all the promotions and basically pulling all the strings. What I learned is that being arrogant and thinking you deserve something from the world is unhelpful and leads to unhappiness. On the other hand, being humble and feeling grateful for everything you get is a much more sustainable and comfortable position.  I had a year that was beyond my imagination with this second book, and I am so happy about it.  Still, though, now it is coming to a close, and I am faced with what appears to be a mixture of sadness and relief.  Mostly, I am glad to get back to writing alone at my computer, where I get to think and not have to comb my hair or look presentable, if you know what I mean.

To write, publish and promote a book well, you really have to have a wide range of many talents: you have to be able to sit alone and dig deep into the painful places; you have to be persistent and wear a bullet proof vest for all the rejections you will get; you have to also be nimble enough to know when you are getting good editorial advice; finally, you have to clean up nicely and do some tap dancing for the media, book buyers, and interviewers. Each effort and accomplishment is exhausting in its own special way. But for now, going back to my book on being disinherited feels like a treat, though it is not an easy topic for me.  (My third book is going to be a happy one, I hope). And when I feel unsure of myself, or beaten down, or exhausted in the writing way, I can still look over at my novel in its pretty pink cover and know that it exists in the world. Maybe somewhere out there someone is reading it.  And that is really and truly amazing, isn't it?


Emily Saso said...

This is a beautiful reflection. Thanks for sharing, and I look forward to more as you work on your next book!

Writer, Rejected said...

Thank you, Emily Saso. You are a good egg.