Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Birthing Process of a Book

Get this thing out of me already!
I've never had a baby but I can only imagine it is similar to getting a book published. You conceive the idea, the seed is fertilized, and after some weeks of development, you are shopping around the proposal. Once it sells and you have the book contract it's as if you have moved into the second trimester, that safe zone in which can show off your ultrasound images of the growing little bean with some confidence and pride. Or in the case of a book, announce your excitement over your book deal on your blog and on Facebook. Then, after the writing phase and completing the manuscript, now begins the editing phase, the equivalent of having ongoing check ups with your gyno, who is in this case is not a doctor but your editor at the publishing company.

I'm in the third trimester now and I can feel that damn baby--I mean, book--kicking and screaming inside my womb. LET. ME. OUT. No amount of ice cream will soothe this little monster. It is impatient and ready and wanting to see the world. It wants to go on a book tour. It wants to climb onto the book shelves in stores across the country. It wants to be read and praised and told it is such a good little baby. Oh, what an adorable thing. Aren't you so cute and funny. You are the best baby--er, book--ever. Coo coo coo.

This time last year I was sitting in my bathrobe and Ugg(ly) boots at my kitchen table for days on end, click-clacking away on my laptop, my story spilling out onto the pages. (Ask anyone in Eldon, I rarely ever got dressed.) The only thing I was anxious about was meeting my deadline. I needn't have worried; I delivered a month early. One year later, I am sitting in my office in front of my gorgeous new Vermont Castings fireplace, and I am experiencing a new kind of anxiety. It's called "What if no one likes my book?" Which must be akin to "What if my baby is born with six fingers?"

My latest ultrasound came in the form of an email from my author friend Leigh Michaels. (She is the author of "The Wedding Affair" and "On Writing Romance.”) She had just read an advance copy of my book and said,  “I honestly can't remember the last time I read any book through at a sitting, but I could not put ‘Making Piece’ down. It's wonderful. It's poignant and painful and honest and funny and unexpected and absolutely gripping. And after reading the book I dreamed about pie.”

I was buoyed beyond measure by her glowing report. Very up. But a few days later I heard from my book publicist that several key bookstores had declined having me do book readings, because I'm "unknown." It's like the kid isn't even born yet and is already getting turned down for the pre-school wait list. Very down.

These ups and downs are surely only the beginning. Wait until the official book reviewers get their cynical, scathing paws on this thing. "That is the ugliest baby I've ever seen," they might say. "Just look at that weird patch of hair above her eye [i.e.: glaring typo] on page 89."

What do I do with myself during these last ten weeks of gestation? What can I do to keep the fears and doubts--and imaginary bad reviews--at bay? What do pregnant mothers do when the final stage approaches?

You know what? As long as I was stuck on the theme, I actually looked it up!

Here's what they say:
  1. Buy any baby items still needed
  2. Prepare all baby first aid and emergency items
  3. Print and fill out emergency sheets
  4. Get a low-maintenance haircut
  5. Finish painting nursery
  6. Get car seat inspected
  7. Pack hospital bag
So now I have a check list to keep me busy until my book is born. Seriously. I actually do need to buy some champagne (to celebrate my newborn's arrival). I just printed out my list of passwords (been meaning to do a computer back up too). I'll schedule a haircut for the first of March. I'm going to buy some paint (I was already planning on re-painting my bedroom). Get car (and RV) inspected. Check. And pack. Yeah, okay. I will be traveling the entire month of April--introducing off my offspring--and it's not too early to get organized.

Like any expectant mother, I'm sure I will forget I ever experienced this period of madness once I've given birth. I will be so overjoyed by my new arrival that I won't remember the labor pains. And the good news about having a book instead of a baby is....no diaper changing required.

1 comment:

martha said...

What do they mean unknown???? We all know you! If a bookstore in Dallas asks you to come, I will come and buy a book and get it signed! I will also bring my book club!

Yes, I will. I promise!