Then underneath the fourteen feet of fear is another twelve feet of discomfort. I am maybe the 40 billionth writer to observe that the skills it takes to write good books (solitude, internality, sensitivity, and in my case -- because I write novels -- embracing of the long form) are the exact opposite of the ones it takes to market books (embracing of the 140 character form, the tweet and post form, the blog form even, plus lots of going out into the world to be the center of attention and talk about myself. I refused to walk down an aisle or otherwise make an entrance at my wedding for fear that everyone would be looking at me -- center of attention is not really my thing.)
So below those 26 feet is indeed the excitement. In fairness, one of the reasons it's so buried is it came first. I was very excited while I was writing it. I was excited when my agent read it and loved it. I was excited when it was the buzz of the Frankfurt Book Fair and started selling to country after country and there was an auction for the U.S. rights and the film rights, and I was excited when I met my wonderful editor and saw the gorgeous cover and the inside design and when I picked the epigraphs and wrote the dedication and acknowledgements. To everything there is a season, and the season for excitement is not, as it happens, when the book comes out but rather quite a bit earlier. At least for me. This here is the season of fear and anxiety.
All of that is preamble though, scene setting, mood establishment. All of that is to say that I've been in something of a crazed, frenetic, anxious, frazzled, weepy state for a couple months here and working 12 hour days and sleeping almost not at all. Then on Friday afternoon, my almost-four-year old broke her leg jumping on a trampoline. (Confidential to parents: she didn't fall off; she didn't knock into anything; she was just jumping one moment then wailing in pain the next; evidently, this is insanely common.)
We are blessed to ask these big questions instead of the other kind. We won't know much until we meet with the pediatric orthopedist, but seemingly, she doesn't need surgery. She will heal fine. She's only in pain when she moves, and that should get better soon. This will pass and heal, and soon, this will be only memory, warning. And perspective. This is the part where I say who cares if anyone reads or buys or likes the book as long as my kid is okay. This is the part where I say I thought I was stressed and busy and anxious before, but now I see what's important and what's not. But that would be a lie. I want it all: a healthy, happy, whole, mobile, active child AND a novel people buy, read, and enjoy. And I must do it all: care for the child, in sickness and in health (she's pretty demanding under the best of circumstances too; she is three after all) AND do my job (which is to write and promote books). How does all of that get done under less than ideal circumstances? I have no idea. But I'm taking suggestions.