I see on quick glance that my blog is saturated with images of Listen to the Wind, my book that just came out. So I’ll give you a different image, one that feels very much the way I feel right now: as if I’m on a perpetual rollercoaster. It’s not just the usual highs and lows of life. It goes beyond the performance anxiety of work or the feeling of a task well done. I wonder if it’s a pathology: Book Launch Disorder? It sounds frivolous, but for many authors, it can be close to debilitating.
It’s quite a ride
I find myself going from elation to paralyzing anxiety. From the certainty that no one will ever read my book—because there are so many books out there and why choose mine?—to gratitude that people actually seem to be reading it. From patting myself on the back because I did it! There’s another book in the world that I wrote! To wanting to crawl under a rock because why could I be so self-deluded? How do I get off this thing?
Enjoy what you can enjoy, try to let go of the rest
I’m writing this not because I’m actually capable of taking this advice, but to force myself to think it through. Yes, I have a book out that’s getting good reviews. Wonderful reviews. Yes, getting attention for it out in the real world is a huge challenge without the machinery of a big publishing house behind me (at least at the beginning). It is what it is, and I have to remind myself that I’m very fortunate that it’s as good as it is. There is very little about the process of launching a book into the world that a writer can control. Especially a writer who is not independently wealthy.
Now, get to work!
My best remedy for endlessly obsessing about all the things I ought to be doing for the book, all the money I should be spending on marketing if I had it, pushing on to the next project is my therapy. I’m editing book 2 of the trilogy, and also polishing up a WIP about three women portraitists in 18th-century Paris, before and during the Revolution. When I lose myself in those tasks, I don’t endlessly check Amazon, or look to see if I’ve gotten more reader reviews on Goodreads.
And don’t forget to read—but make the rollercoaster stop first!
Reminding myself that the first, deepest pleasure is reading wonderful books also lowers my stress level. I’ve been reading. Here are a few of the books that have kept me sane over the last few months:
- Pachinko, by Min Jin Lee
- The Blue, by Nancy Bilyeau
- The Lost Girls of Paris, by Pam Jenoff
- Love That Moves the Sun, by Linda Cardillo
- Warlight, by Michael Ondaatje
- A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles
- The Clockmaker’s Daughter, by Kate Morton
- And I’m in the middle of The Lost History of Dreams, by Kris Waldherr
So many beautiful words, so many remarkable stories. I feel privileged that my Listen to the Wind is now out there, taking its place on people’s bookshelves in such wonderful company!