With less than a week to go before the release of my first novel, I’m finding it difficult to concentrate on anything at all. One of the children has exams next week, husband has a law exam next Saturday, the dog has to go to the vet for his annual jabs. And all I can think about is Friday.
We planned the celebratory meal for Friday evening, bought the champagne and other goodies. But have I thought about what kind of comfort food I’m going to give my Baccalauréat scholar when he comes in from the ordeal of four hours of Philosophy, or his Italian oral exam when he can speak Italian about as well as I can speak Aramaic? Of course not. Have I considered that with a law exam on Saturday, for which he has had hardly any time to revise, my other half might not really feel like pushing the boat out on Friday evening? Like hell I have. This book lark has turned me from a reasonably exemplary caring mother, into an irritable, navel-gazing recluse.
There has been such a build up to this release, pushed back twice, from February, to May then to June, that I have been living in a sort of unpublished limbo. The book has been finished, with a cover, a blurb and reviews to go with it for months. I’ve been pushing it under everybody’s nose as if it was already a ‘real’ book. So what exactly will change next Friday? If I am perfectly honest about it, probably not much. Even if it sold millions of copies the first day I wouldn’t know about it, so, apart from admiring the pretty picture on Amazon, what will I do?
Friday should be the culmination of years of work. On Friday, the dream is supposed to come true. But will it? Perhaps the snappiness, and the feeling that my gut has been through the wringer is due to fear of failure, that my first novel, so long in the preparation will turn out to be a damp squib. Is this what all on-the-verge-of-being-published writers feel? I have heard publishing a book described as being like having a baby. But with a baby you actually get something to take home with you. Not only is it to take home and keep, but you have the responsibility of nurturing it and turning it into a civilised human being: take your eye off the ball for a moment and terrible things happen. But when a book is published, the author’s input stops, apart from the dreaded promotion, and there must be a sense of anti-climax lurking on the edges of the champagne cork-popping euphoria.
I have a feeling I know the answer, not to how other authors feel on the day their book is released, but to how to get over the book baby blues. Forget about the first five minute wonder, and write another one.