There is no denying it. I spent most of last week either being scared that my newly published novel wouldn’t arrive and the other half being scared that once it did arrive that nobody would like how it looked. Never mind the content!
It did arrive, and there was a drama (see previous posts) because there always is (I come from a long line of Drama Queens and trust me, I am the least dramatic of the lot) and finally, having overcome the panic, self-loathing and general pouty mess, I placed a copy of The Thinking Tank (The cover is amazing. Check out http://www.creationbooth.com/ and Graham can work his magic for you.) on the table in my kitchen, just to see if it got noticed. One by one the folks we had invited this weekend (most of whom had no idea I’d written a book) picked it up and examined it, making postive clucking noises as they did. And lo and behold, I felt this naughty little beaming smile creep up and pout of my chest and into my face. Hurrah! I am an author! And this is my book! Triple hurrah when I actually sold three copies!
The rest of the weekend I carried the book around in my bag, brazenly showing it off at the hairdresser’s, the post office and the health club. Suddenly the scaredy cat was gone and the preening siamese had taken her place. Now, I am not sure this is the model I want to stay with. Maybe somewhere between shameless self-promotion and humility at the blessing of being published is more where I would like to be, but for now, at least the demon mog had gone away.
Now I maybe have to get over the self-promotion thing, or my publisher won’t be happy with me. Maybe there is no such thing as a humble author. Oh God, that makes me VERY scared. Now where did that cat go….
Finally it arrived. I was even sunny and welcoming to the man from the delivery company that had failed to deliver my precious parcel the day before. It’s here I screamed at the top of my voice – to no one in particular, although the guy next door did give me a withering look.
You know when there is a moment that you have been waiting for forever – like going to your first disco or wearing your first high heels – or shaving for the first time (not you ladies, of course)? Well this was one of those moments. And I suppose I should have expected it not to live up to the up-there-in-lights billing that I had given it in my head because these things never do. But then I never learn. I ripped open the parcel and grabbed out the precious contents – my novel. In print. With my name on it. With my work inside. Oh bliss.
Yes – it was my name, it was my work and the cover was absolutely perfect – exactly as I wanted it. So why was I so upset? It was the paper (or stock, as they call it in the trade). Flimsy and almost see-through, my weighty tome was light-weighty and I actually did cry.
What I should have done is made a call to my publisher, who would have told me there and then that these were review copies and that the actual book, which hasn’t yet arrived, would have a lovely raft of cream pages which will ping when you flip them and not fan like paper from the office copier. This would have been the grown-up thing to do.
Instead I flung myself around for a bit, feeling and being wretched until finally my husband, arriving home hot and travel-worn, asked me what Summertime has said. My blank looks were enough.
The moral here is to do with the self-doubt thing again. You see, I knew what I should have received – the other Summertime books on my desk were testament to the style – but my feeble alter ego – the one that is naked and scared and suddenly more vulnerable than ever before- had decided I must be unworthy of this nice, pingy paper and that was jolly well that.
The lovely Jo Parfitt (www.joparfitt.com) at Summertime replied to my bleating email instantly. That particular moment of despair has passed – I feel sure there will be more to come. Never think the fat lady has sung. She always has some humming to do way after you think the curtain has called.
OK. I am calmer now. When we talk about life’s crappy stuff, it’s not just the big things that get us, is it? Although it’s pathetic and I am thoroughly ashamed, I have just had a complete hissy fit because the delivery man – with the precious very first copies of The Thinking Tank – rang the wrong bell at our gate, left a card and went away – and the delivery people on the end of the phone with the very long message and the many buttons to press before you get to a real person wouldn’t let me go to Peterborough to rescue them from the depot!
Maybe you can imagine my disappointment. I know pride is wrong and all that, but this was to be a proud moment. Camera was ready, Champagne (real stuff – not cheap fizz) was in the fridge, all set to upload pic of me with first-born novel onto Facebook and hurrah!
Now I know it wasn’t to be. That just wasn’t my moment and I am waiting until it is. Until the very nice man comes back with my books and I can finally rip open the package and claim my prize. And I have put a big notice in red writing on the gate: Jae De Wylde is IN (subtext: take my books away again at your peril).
So in the past day, I have gone from feeling naked and scared to frustrated and angry and now I am feeling…yes, that’s what it is…resigned. I know some people will not like what they read. It’s inevitable. I don’t like some of my favourite author’s work, so why should everyone like mine? What I am feeling now is that literature is like art. At its best, it provokes thought and discussion – so as long as the non-likers and the likers feel moved to talk about The Thinking Tank, that’s fine. Isn’t it? Please visit: http://jaedewylde.com/
The Thinking Tank, my first novel has been published. I am a published author. Job done, you say. Job not done. Job only just beginning. Why have I called this Life’s Crappy Stuff? Because it’s what we all have to wade through to get to where we want to be. And it is precisely this crappy stuff that helps us to keep our writing real.
When writers give an account of how they got from the concept of their novel through to publication they rarely go backwards. So why have I decided to do it this way? One reason is that lots of would-be writers, by the time they are googling about getting published, that’s really all they want to know…so that way you guys can skip the rest of my blog and just read the bit that may or may not be relevant to where you are in your writer’s journey.
The very quick answer to your question so you can go and order a latte as you ponder it, is that – like so many things in life – I was in the right place at the right time with the right person in my life. Before you dismiss this as a cop out, let me explain. Sometimes something can be right under your nose but you just don’t recognise it. It took a reiki course to teach me this very important lesson. A wonderful and inspiring mentor called Lisa Whitehead http://www.getalife-uk.co.uk/ said we should open our eyes to the opportunities the universe is offering. Crap, you might say (I probably did at the time). The next day I went off to work and, instead of deleting a random email from a PR company requesting submissions from journalists, I responded. A month later I was in a first class stateroom on the Queen Mary, covering the voyage from Southampton to New York – the journey of a lifetime just because I listened to what I had been told, and to what the universe was saying.
So, listen, engage and be open to opportunities. Network amongst those you know, create contacts with those you don’t.
My publisher will be laughing as she reads this. Jo Parfitt at Summertime Publishing http://www.joparfitt.com/tag/summertime-publishing/ is my world’s leading expert on networking. She was right under my nose and I was right under hers. Our lives kept intercepting and overlapping and we recognised one another in so many ways but then finally the universe put us both in the right place at the right time. The Lime Tree Cafe in Dubai to be precise: http://www.thelimetreecafe.com/ . We met as the friends we already were but this time we realised my novel was a good match for her new fiction imprint. We met as friends – I came away with a publisher and she came away having acquired another author for her list.
So what does it feel like to be published – out there with your first novel, about to be launching and signing? As I write I am expecting the first delivery of the paperback version of my book. The book is already out there on Kindle: http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Thinking-Tank-ebook/dp/B005HXCYJA/ref=sr_1_12?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1314870859&sr=1-12. Already members of my family and friends have been reading what I have written. And I feel naked. Naked and full of self doubt and insecure. Now that’s not what you expect is it? That’s not what I expected anyway. This morning I should be feeling excited, full of hope and pride and bouncing around with my chihuahuas, singing ‘I am a published author, na na na nah na.’ But I am not. What I am is scared…