I, uh, signed a book contract.
You work towards a goal. You put in your time, you make sacrifices. What happened for me was I got fired from a job, and I decided that I wouldn't let that time be a waste, I would use that time. I hung around in my sweatpants, I grew a beard, I searched for jobs, and I wrote, I edited, I wrote a little more. I stayed up late, I got up early, I worked while I was unemployed, and then later when I was employed again, I still wrote.
And now, unless everything falls apart, I will have a book published next spring.
Here's the thing: this is a bucket list item, literally something I wanted to do before I died, and now I have no idea what to do.
So what do I do now? How should I feel? I am trying to fit this in to my experiences, and have come up empty. I remember looking at my university diploma when I got it, thinking yep, that's done. For six years, I worked, got up at three in the morning, I remember being exhausted and dirty and sweaty, then getting in the car when I got done at my job and going to school, I remember trying to stay awake in class, take tests on a few hours sleep, I remember my hands cracking and bleeding, trying to study with a baby in my lap while my wife worked to support all of us, support me, keep us fed and sheltered. Now, all of that was over and all I could think was OK, next.
I have a publisher that wants to make my book real. A real book, like you see at the library or in book stores. Real. This makes me an author. An Author.
I was looking at the contract and clicking in the boxes and putting my name where it belonged and then it was there at the bottom, a button that said completed, click here to submit. I stared at it thinking who the hell am I? Is this real? I looked around, wondering if there was someone around to tell me that I'm doing the right thing, that it will all be OK, maybe some parental permission slip sign-off or something, anything to make this not my decision, to put the responsibility somewhere else. It is a strange thing, to give my book that represents literally hundreds of hours of my work and care, just hand it over, trust that this group of strangers will treat it right.
My wife threw me a party. I clicked the submit button, and I texted her, I said it's done. I had to finish the rest of my work day. I got home, and somehow, in just an hour or two, busy as hell and bad back and all, she invited friends and family over. We had steaks and corn on the cob. I answered questions about my book, about the company that is going to publish it. I smiled and laughed, and everyone went home, and all I could think of was: What next?
It is sad, in a way. I can't even seem to allow myself to enjoy this.
I had a talk with my friend, a musician, about this. His long-time band has undergone a major upheaval recently. I suggested that he walk away, that finally he is free to do something new and different after twenty years. He said, yeah, that might be nice, but it's not done. It's the work that drives us, it can't be the reward, because neither of us has seen any. The work is not done, and maybe I will never be able to feel satisfied.
I wish in a way that I could believe that someday I will be done, that I will get my diploma, so to speak, and be able to move on to the next phase of my life, like with the university. When I look ahead, I just see more work, and I guess that's a good thing, isn't it? I have outlines for at least three more novels, not including Antiartists and the one I am working on now. After that will I be done?
I am happy, I really am, I promise. I know this is a huge deal, for me and my family and the people that love me. And when I can allow it, I am genuinely ecstatic. It is an amazing and beautiful thing, and I can allow myself a little pride maybe, a little pat on the back for a job well done, right?
But still, I know that this is just the first step, and will bring with it changes both welcome and unwelcome. I have lived a fairly insulated life, I have built a cocoon around myself and I like it in here. It's warm and safe and close and quiet. And now I'm having to step out, and it scares me a little.
And yeah it is all these things, and it is other things that I can't seem to find words for, that I can't seem to express in a way that people can understand, because I don't understand it myself. It feels too big to express in a conversation, in a tweet, in a single blog post. It makes me feel exposed. It makes me want to crawl back in to my cocoon. I want to set off fireworks, and watch them from hiding.
But I have wings. Out here it's dangerous and big and loud, and I'm looking down and I can't see the bottom. It looks like a long and dark fall into uncertainty. But the thing is, when I'm looking up, I can't see the upper limit, either. I'm on the brink, and I swear I'm going to jump.
Let's see if I am strong enough to fly.
Thanks for reading this stuff, it really means a lot. I promise to put details about the publishing company and release schedules and where to get it, and anything else. Reach me at the usual places. @RDPullins dissent dot within at gmail dot com Cheers.