Saturday, March 20, 2010

closing the book

This past week and a half have been a FLOW rollercoaster that exceeded anything I could have possibly imagined. And now, I think, the ride is pulling into the platform and it's time to get off. Not that I won't hop on again—I've loved much of this (only in analogy form, I'm terrified of rollercoasters in the real world), but the ferris wheel is calling my name. I'm hoping my next experience will be bigger but tamer, less heart-racing turns, peaks and plunges.

In the past week and a half I've been on a renowned national TV show, with a studio audience of hundreds and a viewing audience of millions. Whoopi thanked me for writing this book and ended The View encouraging people to get a copy for everyone they know. I was quoted in the business section of the NY Times. I guest blogged for BUST. I was on FOX news yesterday and had a true author/fan experience. I signed dozens of books for enthusiastic readers. I learned the ins and outs of HDTV makeup. I met producers, pr execs, experts in various fields.

I learned that I get very quiet before big gigs and have to dig back in to find my normally outgoing exterior. That being on camera is remarkably comfortable. That I really know my stuff. That I could have handled this on my own. That I'm starting to own who I am and don't have negate or belittle all that I've accomplished any more.

In the past week and a half I also parted ways with the agent who sold FLOW. She did the impossible. For years, I was assured beyond the shadow of a doubt that no one would ever publish this book. She believed and made it happen. But, in the end, it wasn't a good fit and she sent me a concrete message in the very recent past that she's done. A very talented and thorough lawyer spent days putting together a termination agreement and even though I've known for a remarkably long time what should be happening, I still almost couldn't hit the send button. I hate the thought that things can't be worked out, even when the facts are smacking me hard in the face.

I made it clear to people involved that things can't continue on the way they have been. I can't be in situations anymore that leave my stomach in knots, my fists clenched in frustration.

I also hit just about the most rock bottom place possible. After watching amazon sales sky-rocket and spending days imagining the FLOW frenzy taking over the country, it turns out only 500 copies were sold post The View. Subtract out the 120 copies usually moved in a week, that's 380 books from a national TV appearance. Amazon's touted 12K jump in rank? All I can say is WTF. I sobbed for hours, not knowing how to get past that place of supreme disappointment but also failure. I've done everything I could have, or at least know about, but nothing makes a difference. Someone wrote me a lovely email about the dangerous place of hope slipping into expectations. I honestly don't let myself get too caught up in either, but this one sucked me in without my even realizing it.

Through this, because of this, even in spite of this, I'm learning to stand up for myself. To stop waiting for other people to step up and help me. Part of me resents the hell out of that. Part of me is proud of taking a stand and standing strong in it.

I woke up today knowing it's time to move on. FLOW will keep flowing. Without my constant presence. I don't need to check amazon rankings every 20 minutes, troll the web to see who's writing, try so hard to get people to pay attention. I am grateful for every person who's read it, bought it, talked about it, recommended it, shared it, promoted it, wrote about it, loved it.

I can see from this vantage point what's worked. And I'm finally understanding that I don't need to be held back by what didn't anymore.

I started this blog to feel more like a writer. Now I know I am a writer. I don't say that anymore with apologies or the disclaimer than I'm a just a stay-at-home mom who cranks things out in the corner of the living room. FLOW has given me a platform, a voice, a point of view to share with people. A message. A conversation to start. A sense of confidence in who I am and what I have to say. On the other side of this I'm stronger. Less idealistic but more grounded in reality. Ready to create again with far less drama.

And now, it's time to move on to the next thing.


WhyMommy (Susan) said...

Wow -- how real. It does sound like a lot of very high ups, mixed with downs. No matter what, though, you did the improbable -- you're a published author, and your message is out there.

Way to go!

Dian Reid said...

thanks so much for sharing this, elissa...what great insight into your strength and how well you're honoring yourself. as i think about my own path in completing my book and promoting it, i appreciate the rawness of everything you expressed here. it's so easy for us, the "outsiders" to think it's all fun and bliss once you "make it".

i'm looking forward to whatever is next for you, and applaud the graceful closing of this past chapter.

MrsWhich said...

You see, more than 8 reasons to feel good right now. congratulations.

LPC said...

Thank you so much for your open communication. It helps the rest of us to be very clear what is possible and what is likely. To know what we might hope for and what to expect. To set out only if nothing in return is OK.

thelittlefluffycat said...

It's been amazing to watch and listen to you the past week, and think about what something like this might feel like, good and bad alike. I feel like one of those people alongside a marathon, shouting for someone who is technically a stranger - but who I could, with a little more effort, be. Thank you for that. :)

Amy Oscar said...

Blessings on this new phase in the author's journey. Now that you are exhaling, the sales won't stop. My hope is that you will also learn that, even when you don't push and push, the book will still sell.

From the beginning, I've held that this book is the kind of book that will make its way, slowly and steadily, into people's lives. It's a classic that will be passed from woman to woman, mother to daughter, daughter to mother.

That's how women's wisdom works - the media has very little to do with it.

Rebecca Elia said...

Once again, Amy considerately commented for both of us. (Thank you, Amy!) If you still find yourself feeling the pressure of time and numbers, Elissa, then remember this: Slow steady endurance IS the feminine (Just look at our Mother Earth!). The success of FLOW needs to be measured in her terms, not in those of the masculine world that could not conceive of the value of FLOW in the first place.