Tuesday, August 5, 2008

A Light Breaks Through (Early Winter)

It seemed as if I was reaching the depths of my misery at the prospect of becoming a published author. (Part of the problem was feelings of inadequacy ... who am I to get a book deal?) (See another post in another blog.) After some digging, I was finally able to ascertain that the mysterious Juan DeCarlo (not his real name) was indeed a real person and was indeed interested in publishing my novel simply because he liked it.

After many, many emails back and forth between Mr. DeCarlo (not his real name) and myself, we finally set up a time for a face-to-face meeting, as he would be in my very fair city within weeks. However, his schedule became jumbled up and so I settled for a phone meeting. At our appointed time, the telephone rang and I was speaking to the man with whom for the past three months or more I'd only corresponded via electronic mail. (One thing Mr. D. [not his real initial] and I had in common was a predilection to be annoyingly and fastidiously punctual.)

We spoke for an hour. And with each piece of the conversation, much of my angst and anxiety simply melted away. That Mr. DeCarlo (not his real name) was an articulate soul with a smooth smoker's voice did much to help assuage my darkness. It was as if each word he spoke helped part a curtain, then burst a cloud to help reveal the light. It also helped that this guy knew his stuff. He had a business plan and understood the market much better than most upstarts. He wasn't a dreamy-eyed optimist.

Yes, Brown Paper Publishing was small. Yes, they had a limited budget. But the fact was we had a contract and they were obliged to print so many copies and do their best to sell as many copies as possible. My part would come later.

Still the Fall ... but getting colder (and darker)

Once I was assured that Brown Paper Publishing was legit, I did a lot of waiting. It would be at least a few weeks until my page proofs were ready. So I started telling people that I was getting a book published. I observed the "pregnant rule." That is, you don't tell people you're expecting until you're at least out of your first trimester. I wanted to wait until it was 100 percent official.

Everyone was quite pleased for me. I, however, was trying to take it with a grain of salt. Yes,this was a major achievement, a triumphant culmination of everything I had looked forward to in my career. Still. I had to be honest: This was a small startup publisher, it was my first novel and my expectations were not terribly high.

Perhaps it was seasonal affective disorder, but during this time I became very depressed, almost despondent. What should have been a joyous event, something to celebrate was turning, in my mind, into a nightmare. And I could not figure out why. Perhaps I was comparing myself to other novelists and feeling like small potatoes. Perhaps I felt as if this tiny novel would be lost among a chorus of more highly placed voices. Whatever the reason, I was in a funk.