'Sometimes letting things go is an act of far greater power than defending or hanging on.'
My new novel has been launched, school holidays are almost over and now it's time to move on, to once again seek a sense of steadiness, and to find a way of settling back into routine and fill the sudden empty space that has appeared in my life. But there's a winding down that needs to happen first, a letting go and a reconnecting with life. Launching a book into the world is not as straight forward as most people might imagine. Yes, there's the pure joy of completion, the celebration of all that has made this moment possible, but underlying that is the lingering fear of how the book will be received and a strange grief associated with its release. Publishing a book is akin to sending a grown child out into the world. There are many mixed emotions: reluctance, pride, sadness, fear, relief and joy. So inevitably the period of time around publication is an emotional roller coaster.
It's also difficult to mark the exact moment of publication. Is it the letter of acceptance from a publisher, the signing of a contract, the receipt of an advance? Is it the completion of a final edit and the knowledge that it's no longer possible to change a single word? Is it the first sight of the book cover design, or the moment we first hold the book in our hands, feeling the strange sensation that it is no longer ours? Or then again, is it the special moment we see the book in the shops, actually there, stocked and visible to the rest of the world? Does it lie in that terrible waiting time when we wonder how our book is being received and if there will be any reviews or interviews? Or is it when we invite our friends to celebrate and help us to launch our book into the world? I think it's all of these moments, each of which carries significant and often complicated emotions.
For me the letter of acceptance represents the purest, least complicated of these stages. It is pure joy. This is the moment that a great burden lifts from my shoulders and it's also the moment that holds the greatest potential, because for the briefest of times the book can and might be anything; doubt, worry and disappointment have not found their way in to sully the purity of possibility. The book launch is more complicated because unless you are one of those very few authors whose books are published with great hype and publicity, there is already the fear that your book might be overlooked, that it might fall between the cracks and miss its narrow window of opportunity. Despite this, or perhaps because of this, the book launch is an important ritual. It is symbolic. A chance to give a blessing and a parting kiss to a book, and of course it's an opportunity to celebrate, before re-immersing oneself into the solitary world of the next book. But most importantly of all it is a chance to gather friends and well wishers, to fill a space with good will and to launch a book that carries that same good will with it out into the world.
In Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott writes about being published and the upheaval, confusion and disappointments it inevitably brings for most of us. The anxious waiting for something to happen, for reviews, interviews, invitations and royalties. The hope that this time it will be different, that this time the publisher will invest their money and time in creating hype around the book. But the most interesting story Lamott tells is what she learned when one of her books did do well and she found herself caught up in all the attention. Seeking peace but unable to come back down from the excitement, she asked advice from a priest, who told her. 'The world can't give us peace. We can only find it in our hearts. . . but the good news is that by the same token, the world can't take it away.'
Flight has not been published with hype but it has been launched with an enormous amount of good will and that means more than bells and ribbons. No doubt there will be reviews and so far there have been a couple of interviews. I don't know what the reviews will be like. Gathering Storm received many, mostly glowing reviews but Flight is different. It isn't a safe book, or one that can be easily categorised. One of the reasons why I have found it so difficult to find publishers is because my writing has always bridged the commercial and the literary, so is not easy to market. I can only trust that Flight will build its readership and I hope it will do so by finding its way into the hearts and minds of its readers. I can offer support, speak for it when I am invited, but essentially, like a grown child, it is on its own now. For as Kahlil Gibran wrote in his poem, On Children
'You children are not your children,
they are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you. . .
. . . You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.'
All I can do now is give Flight my blessings and let it go. And the secret of doing this successfully is to immerse myself deeply into another project. The sequel! Already I can feel it seeking my attention, tantalising me once more with the prospect of the unknown. . .
Copyright (c) 2012 by Rosie Dub. All rights reserved. You may translate, link to or quote this article, in its entirety, as long as you include the author name and a working link back to this website:http://writeonthefringes.blogspot.co.uk/