When I finally uploaded my finished, polished book to the internet machine I half expected balloons or streamers to fall from the sky. It felt like such an enormous achievement – to finally finish what I’d started so long ago – and for a second I felt obliged to pop some champagne. Isn’t that what you do when you finally realise a life-long dream?
But I didn’t pop champagne. I did the washing instead. I was exhausted, mentally and physically, and all I wanted to do was go to bed. But when I looked around me I realised that somewhere during this book writing/designing/publishing/freaking out process my house had become barely liveable. I hadn’t cooked or grocery shopped in God knows how long, takeaway containers filled the sink, washing was piled to the roof, the cats were chasing dust bunnies around the house and my husband had an actual cobweb on his ear. I kid you not. A cobweb. Ok, it fell on him from its place on the ceiling but still, he has been sitting at his desk and studying for so long that it’s not so far out of the realm of possibility for a spider to set up camp on his head right now.
Is this what the glamorous life of a writer is like? If so, I really wish it paid enough for me to hire an assistant.
The cats try their best to help but without thumbs their skills are limited. They can’t do the washing, their cooking leaves a LOT to be desired and, quite frankly, they suck at making the bed. To their credit they do try to answer the phone by swatting it off the table and onto the floor, so that’s progress, I guess. They also sort the mail and are incredibly efficient at shredding documents.
A lot of this whole ‘write and publish a book’ process has turned out quite differently from the way I pictured it in my dreams.
In my dream I held my shiny book in my hand, and I got a sun tan from basking in the glow of its awesomeness.
In reality I flipped through an ebook on a screen with a fancy page-turning emulator with a goofy grin on my face.
Verdict: Probably better this way, it can’t get dirty or dog-eared or chewed up by cats this way. And if I ever want to change anything I can just replace the file.
In my dream I had an agent calling me, setting up meetings and promotional events. I had a personal hair and makeup team.
In reality, instead of sleeping off the exhaustion from actually producing the book, I’m emailing printers and setting up a presence on social media and creating ads and designing brochures and business cards and posters. I haven’t washed my hair in about a month and I have no idea whether or not I put mascara on this morning.
Verdict: I like the level of control I have over everything, but maintaining a full time job, a marriage, a household and a life while trying to market my book and respond to every email, request and comment is not exactly a piece of cake. I have missed a few birthdays, baby showers, and about a bazillion coffees but I have understanding friends who get it. It is enjoyable though, I mean, I actually love what I’m doing for the first time in my life.
In my dream my family and friends were happy for me, and everybody else thought I was crazy or didn’t care.
In reality, a handful of friends have read it, some shared it online, one friend’s cat blogged about it, a few close friends have given me bucket loads of love and support, my best friend and cousin have publicly praised it, last I checked my immediate family were all, ‘oh yea, we’ll get around to it’, and I’ve received a hell of a lot of love from perfect strangers. I’ve received one phone call about the whole thing, but that was my dad telling me he didn’t know how to use a computer.
Verdict: I did this for myself, for the love of cats, and dedicated it to the memory of my late son. I’m happy, my husband is proud of me. Anything more than that is a huge bonus.
In my dream I sipped champagne and had a glamorous party.
In reality it’s been out a week, the only celebrating I’ve done so far has been with a jar of nutella. I am still not sleeping or eating very well.
Verdict: I am planning a party. This is my baby and I want to celebrate, damn it! And you’re all invited.