I love me some comfort: the sensibility of routine, my favorite worn-in sheets, the predictability of the sunset and the tides outside my window. And especially now, the particular feel of the keyboard, the sticky space bar and silent clicks; the opening up of the document and return to my characters; the way my uber chair feels like coming home every morning (yeah, totally worth every single dime: after three years, no sags or creaks or scary tilts.)
Seven weeks in the new seaside house. Comfort level soaring. I still can’t find the damned box of light bulbs, and the first floor-needing-the-renovation smells funny, and right above my writing desk there’s this scratch-scratch-scratch mid-morning, but most everything is in it’s place, and man, oh man that view, holy cow.
We did it. We sold, moved, sorted, stored, bought, moved again, settled.
In the most terrifying moments (so far), when I’ve squeezed my eyes shut and prepared to let out a scream, I grab onto David’s hand. One could argue that he has the most to lose, right? He’s given up a sure thing. So, how come he’s the calm one?
I, on the other hand, have arguably finally found my mojo, my path to artistic fulfillment. I’ve finished with the responsibility of bringing to fruition Dave’s great vision, justifiably proud of an organization I built and ran for 25 years. I’ve done it: screwed up the courage to study my craft, finished a novel, and most significantly, call myself a writer. What have I got to lose?
Next stop, Commerce.
For three years I’ve told myself that what really mattered were the words, the story, the very real pleasure of working it all out on the page. Now that I’ve done my first collaboration with a developmental editor, someone to intimately share the intricate puzzle of the novel with, I’ve discovered the particular joys of revision—of unearthing the words, and style and ABC of Jenn and Polly and the story arc. Jazzed just to type those words. Amazing.
For three years I’ve told myself that if I could start and then run David’s (highly) successful business based on his vision, then surely I could do the same for myself. Right?! The book just needs to be ready.
Well, sure. Except for the No’s! of Book Commerce. Getting published is a one-in-a-million shot. As in, 999,999 No’s and one Yes. That means hundreds of No’s (and maybe one yes) from literary agents, bunches of No’s from acquiring editors (and maybe a yes or two), only to write and revise Novel #2 and/or Novel #3 and start all over again, and if somewhere in all of that, one of the books comes to the light, you sell a few hundred, maybe a thousand copies (because a lot of readers say No!)
Sound like a set-up to Fail? Yep!
This is wise David’s philosophy: Give yourself permission to fail.
I’m invested. I want to start this new business of Gail’s book-commerce and run it successfully. It’s comfortable, succeeding. I know that feeling: working really, really hard and being good at something and being rewarded for my savvy, my talent, my brains. Odds are not good for the new business. It’s bound to fail, maybe not ultimately, but in the interim.
In this business, if I don’t get a No, then I’ll never get a Yes.
The story may never pass the vetting of the professionals—and I need that to screw up the courage to let the book out. It may never see the light, may never have the transformation seen through your eyes, or his eyes, may never be discussed in a book group or be dissected by a reviewer. It could fail.
But, wait! I have the most incredible fall-back plan. The writing!