The Far Empty has been out over a month now.
I went on the book tour, did the radio interviews, signed the books, watched my sales, read and fretted the reviews, searched random book stores for my book, trumpeted social media, and really did nothing but obsess over it for the last few weeks.
It’s been wild, wonderful, nerve-wracking, and honestly, so anxiety-producing, that I’m glad it’s over. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy it – because trust me, I wanted to enjoy every second of it – it’s that I had to learn the hard way how little control over the outcome that I have. I wrote the best book I could, and the rest of it – where it gets reviewed, what those reviews say, which stores do or don’t carry it, how many copies it sells – are now all out of my hands. I put myself in the hands of people who know what they’re doing, and then had to figure how to let it go. It's been hard for me to wrap my head around (or pry my fingers from), but if I had done it earlier, I might actually have embraced the last few weeks more.
I had a book published! It’s in stores! People are reading it!
Those were the only goals I had when I started this journey (actually, my original goals when I began writing again were even more modest), and seeing my book published has been a lifelong dream. But when it finally happened, although I promised myself I'd only focus on the “hits,” I still found myself dwelling on the perceived “misses” as well…I learned quickly what a small window of opportunity any debut author has to catch lightning in a bottle, so I kept waving that bottle all round, redefining at every opportunity what it meant to me for my book’s release to be “successful,” and in doing so, robbed myself of the chance to simply revel in the fact that something I had written was actually released into the world at all (and there’s actually a whole another post I might do about creative, critical, and commercial success, and what those things might mean).
Look, it’s good to push yourself and never to settle, and to always, always, set new goals, but not to the detriment of that present, oh-so-fleeting “I did it” moment. We creative types need to truly celebrate that, and I wish I had more in my case. You're a debut author only once, and although in my daydreams I imagined holding my book, flipping through it over and over again, or walking into a bookstore and grabbing a copy from the shelf just to read a few pages as if I hadn't written the damn thing, I really didn't make the time for that. I’m glad this month is over only because now I know what to expect - what I can and can’t control - and next time around maybe I’ll be a little less anxious about the whole thing, and just sit back and enjoy the ride.
and I just crossed the 2/3 mark on Book 3. And THAT'S the reality of a published author. Taking the time to celebrate the book that's out, and getting right back to work on the next one...