Saturday, November 7, 2009

Conceptual babies

Last night I woke up at 4:00 (actually 3:58), totally disoriented, not knowing where I was, when it was, hey—who I was. I often wake up around that time, get up, check to see what's going on in the world, have a Luna Bar, and head back to sleep, but this was different. In sort of a haze, I started to panic, trying to get at least something into focus so I'd know how to handle the day. And then I realized it was Saturday, I didn't have to pull on the drill sergeant hat and get everybody going.

And then I remembered my dream.

I was in a triage room in NYU's Labor and Delivery floor, where Jack was born. There was just one other person with me, all was mellow and calm when a nurse came in and told me I wasn't ready to give birth yet, to go home and rest up. Next thing I know, I'm back, it's time, only they wanted to put me in a room filled with what looked like the after effects of a college dorm party. Piles of people passed out on beds, the floor, chairs. When I said that didn't work for me, they moved me to another room. 4 beds, only one person there, and the room was beautiful. Purple and orange walls painted in a striking geometric pattern (it looked better than that sounded), with metallic gold accents. Warm light streaming through the windows across the crisp, yet inviting white beds. I sat down on the first bed in the room and realized I wasn't pregnant. We had all made a mistake. There was no baby. And that's when I woke up, dazed and confused.

The reality is, FLOW is like my baby and I'm in the middle of labor (that literally just came to me and I'm almost afraid of where this is going). I've been working on this project for 3 years, a ridiculously long publishing pregnancy, but with the ups and downs, emotional swings, fears, doubts, elation and painful stretching and growing of the real thing. And now, instead of something you abstractly dream about in the 4th and 5th month, it's here. Well, almost here. It's like November 10th is my due date but I have no idea whether things will fall into place the way they're supposed to. I could go with a C-section analogy here since the pub date is concrete, but having never had one myself, it seems I'm choosing to go the all natural, drug-free road with FLOW.

And I have to say, this is insanely painful. Terrifying at times. I have NO IDEA what to expect. There are moments, just like in regular childbirth, of great excitement, but mostly, it's managing panic. There are remarkable people supporting me, but, in the end, this is my project, my baby, my dream. And who knows what will happen. There will be a book pushed out into the world, but its life, just like Iz and Jack's is a blank slate. My input will help shape its path. My efforts and support will hopefully send it in the right direction, but, for the most part it's out of my hands.

Last night I read an article about the challenges of publishing and PR at the moment. That everyone's struggling to figure out how to navigate the shifting landscape. And that it's authors who are suffering most—publishers always have a new list, a new book, a new project to get behind, but for us writers, who poured endless energy and love into our projects, this is it. There's a part of that that's terrifying—I DON'T KNOW WHAT I'M DOING. But, the flip side is that no one knows FLOW like I do. Who better to talk about it, share it, "sell" it than me.

I'm working it.

On Thursday, I walked into Three Lives, a lovely local bookshop, and told the manager I had a book coming out next week. It took 15 minutes to screw up the courage to say anything (plus, I bought a book, just as an excuse to approach him). When I told him the name, he looked blank. So, I handed him a postcard and said I hoped he'd check it out. My heart was pounding as I left the store, fighting back humiliation for putting myself so out there. But, I did it.

And last night I went to a publishing seminar hosted by a writing professor I know—it was an opportunity for literally hundreds of hopefuls to meet experts in the field. I walked in, and within 5 minutes left. But, I went back. I brought Jon with me for support, ran into someone I knew and then had a great talk with an editor who had wanted to buy Chunks years ago. I got contact info for an agent from an editor at St. Martin's, who was sitting next to him. The 3 of us had a fantastic conversation about FLOW, which I not so subtly pulled out of my bronze metallic bag.

Someone told me last week I should tattoo "shameless self promotion" on my hand, so I'd always remember. I'm realizing that's not really what I'm doing. I'm working to give my book-baby the best entrance into the world I possibly can.

Day 36 is analogy-ridden. Forgive me folks.


Lori Zimbardi said...

I just found you today via twitter and after reading all of your post on the matter, I can't wait to read FLOW. I am intrigued and exhausted from following your journey-and I mean that in a good way.

Elissa Stein said...

Thanks for taking time to both read and write. Please, let me know what you think about FLOW!

Word Geek said...

"Purple and orange walls painted in a striking geometric pattern (it looked better than that sounded), with metallic gold accents."

Sounds like your Twitter page...