Graduation: Odin and Mari On Their Own
This week my emotions have been on a roller coaster. So many things a writer dreams of happening actually happened.
I had a meeting with my editor. Don’t you just love the sound of that? I do. Especially when my editor seems to love this book as much as I do. We were comparing notes on pre-and post-release responsibilities.
If that’s not enough, he delivered several copies of the Advance Readers Copy for Odin’s Promise in book form.
That’s right. For the first time I held a book I had written in my own hands. It has a cover so gorgeous and perfect I still can’t believe artist Kathleen Spale hasn’t been to Ytre Arna herself. I thought my experience with previous publications in magazines and academic journals might prepare me for my reaction.
Not even close. It was truly a moment I’ll never forget.
From what I’ve heard and read, this feeling happens even for those who’ve had dozens of books published. Nothing, though, will ever be as amazing as this first experience.
Except, perhaps, when the final book is in my hands.
But I began by saying it was a roller coaster week. That’s because these ARC copies are now reaching the hands of reviewers and bloggers. These are people who don’t know me or care about me. Not family, not friends, not critique partners. These are free-standing, wide-reading folks, knowledgeable about the genre, who are in possession of my book. They will read, react, and write about it for the general public.
Trepidation doesn’t begin to describe my feelings about this process. Terrified comes closer.
So, I’ll practice that reliable coping mechanism, denial, and return to happier moments on this roller coaster ride.
I also met this week with a teacher who will work on Odin’s Promise for the next few weeks with a small group of fifth graders. Her excitement and enthusiasm about the book and her group assure me that the story is in good hands. They’ll be using a study guide I prepared, then help me polish and tweak it before posting it on the website for general use. I plan to meet and chat with the group when they’ve completed it, which fills me with excitement and enthusiasm, too.
Excitement and enthusiasm describe the comments, posts, and hugs I’ve been receiving through social media, calls, and “in real life”, as they say. I’m counting on the genuine warmth and good will they convey to buoy me up through even the harshest comments that might appear in official outlets or on customer reviews.
There will be negative reviews, I have no doubt. Everyone gets them. The incredibly talented author, Marc Tyler Nobleman, knows this is true and has documented it in a hilarious series of videos in which authors read aloud nasty reviews about their own books. So, like Mari and her family, I’m planning to face adversity armed with humor and rewatch these videos as often as needed.
For now, though, I can best compare my ambivalence to a parent preparing to send a child off to college. Many years have been invested; years of love, discipline, advice, setbacks, and development. Many others have contributed to this moment, lending their expertise and support to the parent and the child. Now this not-quite-fully-formed adult will face the world independently, beyond parental control. For better or worse, the time for control is over. Now it’s up to the child (or book), to show what it was made of, to stand on its own merits.
Travel well, Mari and Odin. I believe in you. I trust that my work, with the help of so many others, has prepared you for the challenges ahead.