To use a Paddyism, I am the queen of Catastrophising. Give me any situation and I will find the worst, most ridiculous outcome and start worrying about it. If a building creaks in the wind it is going to fall down, if I’m driving down the road I’m going to flatten a pedestrian. When we were sailing every splash I heard was Paddy falling overboard, every groan was the boat sinking and every light on the horizon was a freighter coming straight for us.
So you can imagine the kind of ridiculousness that was going through my head when I sent my full manuscript to the publisher, got a “thanks” back, then heard nothing for a couple of weeks.
The logical part of me was saying – “pull yourself together, they must be extremely busy at this time of year and you are not the only writer they have on their books”.
Anxiety Girl on the other hand was screaming at the top of her lungs “They’ve changed their minds, they hate it, you’ve gotten your hopes up, told all your friends and family and now it’s not going to happen. Who were you to think you could be a proper writer anyway?”
It didn’t matter that several emails before I sent the whole manuscript through the publisher had teed up a time and date to meet me and talk about things, as far as I was concerned the silence was deafening.
It was like being a teenager in your first relationship. While back then it was notes passed in class and phone-dates and now it’s emails and text messages, the premise is still the same.
Why haven’t I heard from them? Was it something I said/wrote? Is there somebody else? What if they don’t love me anymore?
I was constantly checking my emails and texts, wondering if I should email or whether that would seem too needy – in short, I was pathetic.
There was a little bit of reason behind my paranoia though – publishing in New Zealand is hard. I was constantly reading articles about authors getting dropped for not being enough of a commercial prospect. Getting a foot in the door is no small thing and I wasn’t really certain how far my size six orange sandal was wedged in there.
I wasn’t until I was so close I could smell it that I realised how much I wanted this book to actually happen.
Even though I hadn’t heard anything and was still convinced it was going to fall through, I had worked out a professional-type wardrobe to wear to the meeting, which was set to happen tomorrow.
Today at lunch time I decided to distract myself by getting wrapping paper and the remaining Christmas cards I needed. After dealing with the queues in Whitcoulls I decided to go to a nearby food court for a comfort curry (the diet starts after Christmas okay?!) and when I finished I did my usual obsessive phone-check. There was a text sitting on there “Hi Anna, I’m downstairs now”.
Holy crap! I’d gotten the date wrong! (it turns out we’d had a bit of an email miss-communication). I shot back a reply and ran like a crazy person, arriving disheveled and juggling wrapping paper. So much for my organised, professional first impression! We were meant to have lunch but I was full of illicit curry and couldn’t face anything else, so I fessed up. Luckily she had a sense of humor – she ate, I drank coffee and tried to regain my composure.
The long and the short of it is, she was lovely and I still have a book deal. The draft contract should arrive by the end of the week.
I also learned that I’m not alone in my neurosis. Apparently another author had recently commented that they hadn’t heard anything for a while. It was explained diplomatically to me like this “I usually have several books at different stages of development on the go, the one that is closest to being printed is the one I love the most. When you get to that stage, you will hear from me every day.”
I’m cool with that. And I’m also pleased to know I’m not the only worrywart out there.
I also learned that getting a book published is a long, slow process and that I will need to get used to long periods of silence. Apparently it takes about nine months from go to whoa (so it really is like my baby) and then they need to work out what time of the year to release it for maximum sales. I would automatically think Christmas, but of course that’s what everyone else thinks and the market gets swamped, so we are potentially looking at September next year or March 2015.
I also need to make sure it is a time that I am available because I am going to have to do TV, radio and newspaper interviews. Something I’d never really thought of and am quite terrified about. I’m the person who helps other people work with the media – I don’t get in front of the camera! I’m certain I’ll freak out and forget all my own advice!
So that’s where we are at the moment. The family, friends, workmates and complete strangers who have had to put up with me wittering on about whether or not the publishers have changed their minds can breathe a sigh of relief.
It’s really, truly, actually going to happen and Anxiety Girl can just pipe down!