My new book comes out a week from tomorrow. Everyone keeps saying, "You must be so excited!" I am, but that emotion is buried beneath fourteen feet of fear. What if people don't get it? What if people don't like it? What if people don't read it? What if people don't even know it exists and therefore can't read, like, or get it even if they were willing to? What if therefore I never get to write another book? What if I can't write another book because I'm just not smart, interesting, creative, talented, or rested enough?
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 spent the evening in the ER. And have spent the time since carrying her screaming from sofa to our bed to hers, coaxing medicine into her, and letting her watch more television since Saturday morning than she had in her life to date so far. We've also been asking the big questions: How does a child used to spending six or so hours a day at a dead run sit still for the next six weeks? What does summer look like if it doesn't involve the beach and the pool and the park? How do you tell an almost four year old not to move for a month and a half? How do you do book tour and book promotion if you have no childcare?
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.
About The Author
Laurie Frankel writes novels (reads novels, teaches other people to write novels, raises a small person who reads and would like someday to write novels) in Seattle, Washington where she lives on a nearly vertical hill from which she can watch three different bridges while she's staring out her windows between words. She's originally from Maryland and makes good soup.