Today’s the official publication day of my new novel, WOMEN ON THE VERGE OF A NERVOUS BREAKTHROUGH. If you haven’t already ordered several copies of it, then now’s the time to get a move on. (Also, even if you’ve ordered several copies, you might want to reconsider. Will five really be enough for you and all your friends? Shouldn’t you buy more, just to be safe? Yes, you probably should.)
A publication date is a strange time in the life of any writer. You long for the day, strive for it, tell yourself you’ll die if you don’t get it. Then it happens. You tell yourself you should be thrilled and ecstatic, but the truth is a little more complicated.
For one thing, you’re a nervous wreck. What if your book comes out and nobody cares? What if nobody but members of your immediate family buy it? What if it doesn’t get reviewed? What if it does get reviewed and you’re misunderstood and reviled? How are you — hypersensitive, skittish and vulnerable — going to handle mass rejection, anyway? Shouldn’t you just leave town and change your name to something suitably literary and preferably with an umlaut?
These moods pass like thunderclouds that don’t deliver. You realize that, now that you think of it, you have other problems. To wit: You — the shy, cringing type who likes to be by herself and contort her face until she composes a sentence or two and bang her forehead on the table for fun and inspiration — you are now expected to become an extrovert who loves to be around other people night and day and promotes herself and her book nonstop. In other words, you are supposed to become another person, a life-of-the-party type, who would probably never want to do anything as boring as sit down and write in the first place.
Once again, you think about the possibility of hiring a stunt double. The stunt double, younger and peppier and really kind of shameless, will corner total strangers and passersby and charm them into buying multiple copies of your novel. She will visit bookstores and thoughtfully rearrange the titles so that your novel faces outward at eye level. She will dazzle in person and on TV and radio. She will make everybody want to read the novel, since it’s such a funny, touching story about three generations of women sharing a small house, trying to love one another and failing and trying again, and pushing to find their way in a daunting world.
Huh. Sounds pretty good to me. I realize, once again, that I may not be a camera, but I am my own stunt double — since I’m the only one I can afford.
P.S. Please make lovely comments on Amazon if you like the book.
P.S.S. I’m going to take a nap. This temporary extroversion lifestyle requires a whole lot of sleep.
(Copyright 2011 by Ruth Pennebaker)