The Annual Meeting For People Who Annually Meet: Adventures Of Post Publication
This weather is killing me. New York has never been as bi-polar as it has been in the past few weeks, or at least, not in the three years that I’ve lived here. Rain turns into sunshine and vise versa. It’s beautiful, it’s depressing, and it’s ‘home.’ I’ve grown accustomed and familiar to the crazy weather of New York, and the crazy attitude and atmospheres it brings along with it. I am marking my third anniversary of my move to New York in September. The love and the pain that I have endured here in the past three years are far beyond what I imagined that a single place could do to a single person over such a short period of time. Once again, I have been proven wrong. It’s been the cradle with which the greatest areas of my passion have been cultivated, and now, it continues to hold me in its arms while I try to grow my passion from a small, window sill garden to The BBG. It’s not easy, but every step is worth it.
I wanted to get all of this down on paper and out of my blood stream last night when the ideas were still fresh and hit ‘publish’ without giving it a second thought, but I realized that the things I am going to say need more attention, more attention than a zombie on 2 1/2 hours of sleep could deliver. So, I went to sleep, allowing the inspiration to settle a little bit in my system. What ended up happening was that this morning, and throughout the course of the day, the inspiration manifested into a sort of angst that I cannot shake. The angst that follows me everywhere. It haunts me and pushes me around, bullying me into sitting before my computer now and typing out what I probably should keep to myself until the inspiration takes itself back from this insanity I’ve thrust upon myself. This tends to happen after my mind is blown. I fly high on information and talent of others, but within hours, when the crash happens and I am leveled with the earth again, I cannot help but begin to beat myself up about how I am not doing enough. I am not doing enough in terms of promoting Shattered Illusions, and I am not doing enough to keep my personal life afloat. Shouldn’t I use what I have learned from others to give myself strength instead of push everything I’ve done until now down? Probably, but that would make for a much less interesting story. It’ll make me a lot less human, and we wouldn’t want that, now would we?
Last night, I attended a wonderful event on the topic of publishing at The Strand Bookstore in Manhattan. I was invited by my friend and fellow writer Yedida Wolf. The event was moderated by Professor and Author Sue Shapiro and featured authors such as Royal Young, Moses Gates and Leigh Newman, and agents and editors Shattered Illusions was released last month. When you’re so focused on your own project, you sometimes forget that there are other people who share the passion and dedication to their craft that you have towards yours. Not to mention that when you start off on a smaller scale with much less media attention that others do, it’s easy to convince yourself that your scale is much larger than it is. The fact of the matter is that it’s easier to feel proud of yourself when you’re not surrounded by others who share the same profession. Or, at least, that’s what I thought to be true. The dread surrounded the fact that my confidence as a writer, even with the success of my own novel (yes, we celebrate small successes around here), tends to disintegrate when I am around other, much more successful authors and literary folk. But, I sucked up my insecurities and went to the event, hoping to walk away with a bit more knowledge towards the craft that I have dedicated my life too. To be quite honest, I was dreading the event from the moment she told me about it. I’ve been in my own promotion bubble since
When I attended Mark Danielewski’s book signing for The Fifty Year Sword back in October, I was in a state of mental chaos that I’m sure every author (or the ‘artist’ on a general span as well) goes through prior to the release of their first (or second, third, four…thirtieth) book. The manuscript was done, reviewers were reviewing, social media was buzzing…All that was left to do was actually set a release date….Dooms day. Part of the joy of publishing with a smaller press is that they give you room to breathe. I was given a year from the day the manuscript was complete to the day that I announced (yes, that’s right, I gave my publisher the release date, not the other way around) the release date. But it also left a lot of empty space, free time spent churning my emotions, trying not to allow the anxiety to get the best of me. I feared that the same would happen last night, when I would sit in a room full of aspiring authors, published authors, and writers of every kind. It’s almost like a reunion of long lost siblings. You know that you speak the same language, you understand the same things and you have all been through similar struggles. Yet, it does not take away from the fact that at the end of the day, every writer comes out with a different ending, no matter how similar (or how unique) their experience in publishing may be. What I found was quite the opposite of my experience at that book signing, though I thoroughly enjoyed it. Mental chaos be gone; I sat and listened with a sense of peace. Stranger things have happened.
So, there I was last night, listening to this fabulous panel talk about their experiences, and instead of shaking in shame over my lack of experience in comparison to theirs, I found myself nodding in unison with every word that parted from their lips. Every piece of advice they gave the audience sounded almost exactly the advice I have bestowed upon others; every joke, every struggle they shared sounded like my own. I was inspired, not because I was hearing new things that I had never heard before, but because they were validating everything I was going through. I was at ease because I realized that they were just as human as I was. When Leigh Newman shared a story of how she threw herself a book party when her memoir, Still Points North was released, I almost fell out of my chair laughing. She had basically described my life, baring a few minor details, of course. When Royal Young, author of Fame Shark shared his experience of beginning to write at such a young age, and I wanted to wave my hands up in the air to grab his attention screaming: “Hey! Me too! How cool?!” But I realized that would have been a bit much, so I kept my mouth shut, at least until the end of the panel, at which time I went running over to both Leigh and Royal to share my similar experiences with them. It’s odd to get star struck and yet be able to resonate at the same time. I went home with a sense of ease, having heard directly from the mouths of very successful authors that I am, in fact, doing everything right.
I’m doing everything right, but I still have so much to learn. Aside from the fact that the road of publication will only continue to wind as I set out to release my other novels G-d willing, the most difficult lesson to integrate into my life is learning how to be happy with who I am and what I have. That does not mean that there is never room for improvement, because there can always be room to improve. What I mean, simply, is that I am still learning how to stop allowing the journey of Shattered Illusions to define who I am and the kind of life I lead. I go through ups and downs in this respect. Sometimes, I am happy regardless of where the book is holding or how much attention it’s getting, and there are other days when my entire life is solely defined on exactly that. It’s learning to find the balance that is the hardest part. I wanted to ask the authors at the panel if they feel that they have defined themselves based on the success of their work, but it didn’t feel like an appropriate topic to bring up. Still, I can’t help but wonder what the case is for each of them.
It’s a long, difficult journey to come to such an understanding. But, I am working on it, every single day, one step at a time.