Countdown to Launch

When first sitting down to write All Woman and Springtime, I had no idea if anyone would ever read it, let alone if it would excite the interest of a respectable publisher. Now here I am, less than two months away from the launch of my debut novel with Algonquin Books, and it is just now becoming real to me.

There was a certain safety in not knowing if my novel would ever be published. The scrutiny of the public eye cast no shadow on my work, and I could write unhindered by second-guessing, or even caring what others thought of it. Sure, I dreamt of the day when an agent would enthusiastically agree to represent my novel, and publishers would scramble to secure the rights to it; but from the vantage of my writing desk, cloaked in nobody-ness, this possibility seemed very far away. On gloomier days I imagined my manuscript, tattered and moldering in a forgotten corner of a very deep drawer, serving as a habitat for a rare species of ink-eating mites, perhaps hidden under a box of 3.5-inch floppy disks and a pile of old cassette tapes, and the embarrassed, averted gaze of friends who never had the heart to tell me that my writing failed to strike a chord in them.

Both possibilities seemed equally plausible to me. Either way, the future was open and full of potential, and as difficult as it was, the unknown provided the necessary resistance to push my novel forward to completion.

Now that publishing is immanent and the manuscript is at the printer, every word, comma and period indelible, I am experiencing a whole set of unexpected feelings. The thrusters are on and the point of no return has been crossed. The only way to go now is forward. The thrill and excitement I had anticipated are certainly a big part of the mix, as are pride and sense of accomplishment, but what I had not anticipated was the level of anxiety I feel at unleashing this creation into the world, where it will be inspected, judged, weighed, sniffed, appraised, interpreted, misinterpreted and compared.

What was created in the safety of privacy and anonymity, for every other purpose than to be scrutinized, will now be buffeted by the opinions, good or ill, of all who cross paths with it, and I must now stand front and center to receive the world's response, and try not to care either way—I did not ultimately write it for approval or accolades, as much as I may want them.

In my imaginings I had not gone any further than the gleeful feeling of receiving that phone call or email telling me that publisher X was drawing up the paperwork. Now this thing that I have coddled and nurtured, shaped and reshaped, torn down and rebuilt many times, this thing that has sprung from me and has been, until now, completely under my control is suddenly and completely out of my hands forever.

Now my only role is to be its spokesman. Its life, from here, is entirely its own. I kiss it and hug it tightly one last time, and with a tear in my eye send it, swaddled in hope, into the unknown.