Friday, March 4, 2011

Hard to Please

I got my galleys for my new book yesterday. The book still doesn't come out until the fall--these are the copies for booksellers and early reviewers, and also for my mom. But seeing the book look like a book all of a sudden is a terrific thrill, and I was bouncing around the apartment showing them off repeatedly to anyone who would look. Since I live only with my four-year-old and he wasn't home, that left the cats--who looked at me disparagingly, then went back to tending to their individual neuroses.

I wonder if Jane Yolen, who has published 7,894,322 books, bounces around when she gets the galley to book number 7,894,323. I like to think so. I've heard writers be so restrained about the things that happen along the way--when an agent asks to see your book, when you sign with an agent, when an editor wants to take the book to acquisitions, when your pretty galleys show up on your doorstep. Well, you never know what's going to happen, they say. And this is true. You don't. So you might as well let yourself enjoy this stuff. All these little moments--a nice mention somewhere, an encouraging rejection-- just let yourself be happy--not for what it might be, but for what it is.

So, my shiny books and I enjoyed a quiet afternoon alone together, and then finally my boy came home from school. "Look!" I said, showing him the pretty stack. "It's my book!" He smiled appreciatively. "Oh, it's very nice!" he said. Then he looked up at me and added, "When are you going to write another book, Mommy?"


  1. I can't tell you how happy this makes me. We're so inundated with "gloom and doom stories," and perky advice like, "Don't get your hopes up. Publishing is brutal. Prepare yourself for perpetual disappointment ..." Don't writers for children have fun anymore? Where is the sense of wonder at the magic of weaving stories? Why do any of us persevere if this path is as wretched as some would have us believe? Thank you for letting us know there is still space and time and reason to dance - even for an audience of cats.

  2. You have such a wonderful son. Not long ago I showed my daughter one of my Horn Book articles and said (jokingly), "Look, I'm famous!" She responded, "No you're not. Not that many people read The Horn Book."

    Second graders: they're such realists.

  3. My kids and I used to dance around the dining room table when I sold a book. We even had a little song we sang. Then we ate ice cream (perhaps the reason they were willing to dance). When they got older and didn't want to dance with me, I danced with my cat, despite looks of feline disgust. You are absolutely right that the hard part of this crazy thing we do is never knowing what might happen, and the wonderful part is never knowing what might happen. I'm so glad you are celebrating. My cats and I are dancing in solidarity.

  4. Congratulations, Anne!
    When I was a young 20 something I got advice from a wise-old writer friend. She said, "Celebrate every little moment along the way."
    I remember this advice more than any other, though I don't always remember to do it. But I always relish that smell of my freshly published book hot off the press, when the spine cracks open for the very first time, and a world of hope and satisfaction opens.
    I am pretty sure Jane Yolan still takes a whiff of her 7,894,323rd book when it arrives.

  5. Buddy tends to go to sleep on any new book that lands on the dining room table. But he has soporific tendencies, anyway, so I don't worry too much about two-legged readers. I did get a letter from a middle-grade reader once who said she kept falling asleep over the first Shakespeare novel-in-verse and asked me to write and tell her how it ended. So I said there was an explosion at the end and the world as we knew it was no more. Then I heard from her mother.

  6. You have a reason to be excited: your book is GORGEOUS! But yes, I agree with what you've said. I was so restrained last month during the querying/fielding offers period, and then I TRIED be be restrained when I signed with Sara, but there's a point where you just HAVE to be happy and let it happen. I know there's a good chance that my book still won't sell, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't enjoy these moments. So keep enjoying this moment, and then relish when BREADCRUMBS actually hits the shelves. You have plenty of time to worry about your next book, but very little time to savor these events.

  7. "just let yourself be happy."

    I love that. I'm taking it to heart.

  8. Your book's arrival is like any other birth--
    Weep, whoop, dance, give thanks for what you have begotten.
    Congratulations, Anne!

  9. Thank you for reminding us to enjoy all of the "stuff" that goes along with this CrAzY life. I'm often too distracted or worried to allow for any real happiness to creep in (what if it all goes away tomorrow?) ... although, a galley seems like BIG STUFF to me ... I think I will go dance with my cat. Nice post, Anne. And congrats. Can't wait to see that book.

  10. Of course I still bounce around with every new sale, new illustrator, galleys, finished book. If I didn't, I'd take a job at Wal*Mart. (Well, actually not. . .)

    Jane Yolen