My Fantasies of Publishing

Well, it’s done. I’m finally a published author; well, self-published anyway. I don’t know what I was expecting, it’s been somewhat anti-climatic though I am relieved. The book had become like some middle-aged offspring that refused to leave home. It was time to kick it out.

That said I did have mixed emotions. First, there was the self-published thing; it feels counterfeit even though I didn’t have much of a choice. Finding an agent was almost impossible, and the books subject, Hurricane Katrina, would be irrelevant immediately after the tenth anniversary of the storm. Still, a small part of me craves the acknowledgement of being published by an established house.

As the day approached for me to shove my baby out into the world to fend for itself, the date took on a special significance. The chosen morning arrived and I felt ready to publish and let the chips fall where they may. I had it all lined up and all I had to do was hit publish but sat looking at the screen unable to left click. My finger had quit working. Finally, in a surge of will I said, “Screw it,” out loud and did the deed. I sat back in my chair and breathed a sigh of relief, a split second later the anxiety started. My heart raced and I had the feeling that I had just made the greatest mistake of my life even though I knew that wasn’t true…probably.

Ok, so saying that I have mixed feelings is an understatement. I find myself alternating between outlining my Pulitzer acceptance speech and searching the internet for cheap tickets to Tierra del Fuego where I can escape the impending avalanche of humiliation. I suspect that reality will lie somewhere in between, but that’s way too rational for me to acknowledge now. Intellectually, I know that all I can do is accept what happens and start on my next project. Intellectually I’m a healthy guy; emotionally I’m a wreck.

It's funny how good it felt to get the galley proofs, just having a physical result of all my work in my hands was exhilarating. That feeling lasted about ninety seconds. That’s how long it took me to find a typo. Suddenly I was a complete failure. How many times did I edit and revise this thing, I asked myself. How could I have missed such a glaring screw up, after all that? Each successive error I found only confirmed my suspicions of ineptitude. Hours later, I realized that there weren’t that many mistakes; maybe I am brilliant after all. Putting the book out there for all the world to see has incited those same feelings, only more in greater intensity.

I have no way of knowing how the book will be received. I’m not really expecting the Pulitzer nomination, horrible reviews and humiliation seem much more plausible. However, as people in south Louisiana sometimes say, C’est la vie. I learned long ago that there’s only one number one in any field. There’s always someone smarter, faster, stronger, more handsome…more everything, than me. If I can’t find satisfaction in the writing process and the effort to improve what I write, then I need to find something else to do.

So, after forcing myself to put the book out there, I took a deep breath to relieve the anxiety, somewhat, said a little prayer and began organizing my files for my next project. Wish me luck.

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