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  • [SWP: Behind the Book] Death by Novel? This Essay Could Save Your Life
This blog was featured on 08/31/2017
[SWP: Behind the Book] Death by Novel? This Essay Could Save Your Life
Written by
Kay Rae Chomic
August 2017
Written by
Kay Rae Chomic
August 2017

Did you know publishing your debut novel could kill you? As a writer, you are a world-class Olympian in sedentary activities. You sit to read, daydream, search the internet, tap your keyboard (oh sure, sometimes quite vigorously). You stand once in a while to peek out the window for a weather check, or reach a reference book on a high shelf, you walk to the kitchen to unload the dishwasher and refill the ice cube trays. With your daily writing comes daily lifting of a coffee mug, and later, a cocktail glass (sometimes sooner, than later). Go to the gym? No, but one of your characters swims laps.    

Yes, you’re an Olympian, albeit with weak lungs, and muscles as strong as if they were filled with cat fur.

I hear your defensive squealing about the writing exercises you perform daily: morning pages, what-if scenarios, metaphor creation, describing tics and voices and faces of your relatives, brainstorming conflicts and personality disorders.    

You’ve heard this warning, Before starting an exercise program, see your doctor to determine the fitness of your body. For writers, same advice, Before publishing a novel, check in with your doctor.” Why? Because it will be the MOST thrilling, and taxing event of your life! You thought bungee jumping, spelunking, and ice wall climbing created a buzz—baby stuff. Publishing bliss causes a rapid heart rate and shortness of breath. Frisson at its best. Way better than the excitement from your speediest 10K race. Oops, I forgot you’re a writer and think 10K will be your first royalty check. Well, maybe, if you live that long.   

Beware of these possible scenarios:

1) Death by heart attack: Your little cat-fur muscles won’t be much help when your publisher sends you a truckload of Advanced Review Copies of your book. Feeling the Olympian’s surge of adrenaline, you pick up three boxes at a time, and run down the basement steps to your home office. Back and forth, up and down, at least a hundred times. As you schlep the last load, the burn in your thighs, biceps, and pecs makes you feel like a high-performance athlete. But unlike the well-trained athlete, after you stack the last box, your chest fills with pain, and your heart thumps its last beat.

2) Death from glossophobia: The fear of public speaking is universal. As a published author, you must speak in front of groups. You always meant to join a Toastmasters’ group and participate in open mic nights, but you avoided those opportunities like you avoid stepping into quicksand—no matter that you’re audience may be full of friends, relatives, book lovers, librarians, and they are there because of an interest in your book, you still fear them. 

Your publicist gets paid to schedule you for book launch events, readings, meet and greets, interviews with Terry Gross, Oprah, Jimmy Fallon. If you aren’t in shape to speak, acute anxiety replaces the glee of publishing, a major panic attack results, your nerves turn into a chokehold, and the last sound you hear is your final gasp.

3) Death by accident: Most accidental deaths occur at home. Beware of Googling yourself—something you never did before publication because your name meant nada to search engines. The myriad listings of your name and book, plus a personalized photo display send shock waves through your body. Amazon, your new best friend, is selling your debut novel, not only in the US, but in the UK, in Canada, Denmark, France, Australia. Even Amazon-IN (no folks, that’s not Indiana, that’s India!). You can’t read all the languages, but who cares, the cover of your book is there. Look at Amazon-Japan. The Mt. Fuji-high price of 2,225 yen sends your mind into an uncharted orbit. Dizzy with celebrity euphoria, you fall out of your chair. Your head, the protector of your awesome creative brain, connects with the uncarpeted floor. Thwack! Thus begins an epidural bleed. You have a few hours left of consciousness. Ponder this—is posthumous glory so bad? Your book is out there, even if you aren’t. 

P.S. Not dead yet? Joy fills your heart like a water balloon at the near-bursting point. Watch out, the world is armed with pins often called reviews.

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  • pauline cameron

    I think that this experience and this writing can save lives and careers of many people who have to write for their jobs. For example, there is a book about how the writing can benefit the development of every employer who has to write for their profession. Knowing how to write can benefit in the ways that simple workers cannot imagine. If you use the help of the review of essay services you will learn the writing skills and will get to know how you can compose your essays or resumes to show off the skills or achievements in the best light.

  • Kay Rae Chomic

    Thanks, Michelle!

  • Michelle Cox

    Fun post, Kay!

  • Kay Rae Chomic

    And, you will be glad you did, Pam! Thanks for commenting.

  • Pam McGaffin Promoting

    I'm definitely taking my life in my hands with this endeavor. Thanks for the giggle.