That’s right — I couldn’t even get this post together in time to say “Pub Week,” which speaks loudly to what it means to have a Pub Day. The fine ladies of She Writes suggested I jot down how I was feeling, on the eve of my very first book arriving in the world, and I felt embarrassed to reply that my overwhelming sentiment was: exhausted. Zonked. Pooped. Mentally, physically and emotionally wrung out.
Because the amazingness of having a book published — even after tinkering with it for four years, and spending (err, borrowing) a terrifying amount of money for an MFA, which created still more pressure to write a book and justify the expense — unfortunately doesn’t mean that work let me stop working, or the laundry stopped piling up, or the refrigerator failed to empty out, or that the people in my life stopped having busy and stressful things happen to them. All of that just happened on top of my sending out emails to everyone I’ve ever met, begging them to please buy my book, and to beg all the people they’ve ever met to buy the book. On top of preparing for the book launch party — organizing, promoting, more begging — and practicing for the little interviews the publishing house arranged (WLVJ, the Christian Voice of South Florida and the Bahamas, stood me up after 45 minutes of waiting beside the phone). And, because I was crazy enough to have made my first book a memoir, it happened on top of assuaging, explaining myself, and half-apologizing to proud-but-offended family members.
(“That part added nothing nice to the book,” my father called to insist too loudly. “I don’t know why you included it — I’d totally forgotten that happened!” “Yes, but I didn’t,” I told him, amazed that he could miss this point.)
But then, but then…
I walked to the dry cleaners one day, my shoulders bunched around my ears with stress, and while waiting for my clothes to be found, I noticed the corner of a flyer for the Brooklyn Book Festival and, seeing the name of one of my graduate school professors on the list of included authors, felt a little jump of excitement in that recognition. A beat. And then, two lines above his, I saw it, my name! And finally it struck me: Holy crap, I’m an author, too!!!!!! A little uncontrolled yelp squeaked out of me.
Soon afterward came the amazing phone calls and letters and emails, from friends near and far, old and new, saying how proud they are of me, or how much they enjoyed feeling that they were in New York or better knowing what our lives are like. My mother-in-law, who I only see a few times a year, wrote to say how grateful she was that I’d “left the door ajar” on our lives, in writing the book, and how much it pleased her to read that her son had grown into such a “romantic and gentle young man.” Another friend said I’d inspired her to rearrange her schedule and begin sitting down with her sons to “real family dinners,” like she had known as a girl. Which, truly, made all the work of the book feel entirely worth it — and worthy.
Today I’m flying home from a mini “West Coast Tour,” where in San Francisco and Los Angeles I’ve felt the love of good friends and acquaintances, who rearranged schedules, wrangled babysitters and sat in traffic to show up at book signings and support me. Reading from behind real and makeshift podiums, I looked up to see them watching me with suddenly new eyes — which was startling, and touching.
The experience has been a wonder, a whirlwind, a dream. And I expect there are still more emotions, and realizations, to come.