So your book is published and that first burst of excitement and adrenalin has coursed through your veins like the hit of a great drug. You wrote up a press release and emailed it to everyone you could think of inflicting it upon; banner ads now adorn all the pages of your website advertising the fact the book is on sale, and links to a point of purchase are splattered like grape shot throughout your whole electronic presence.
A PDF version of your manuscript has been sent to Google so your work will be available for the whole world to search for online, and you've obtained an ISBN so anybody can walk into any bookstore in the land and find your book in the great big computerized database of bookland. Short of taking out paid advertising you've done everything possible to let the world know they can now own a piece of your mind and heart.
It has now been a month since your publishing debut and you've sold exactly one copy of your work, and if you're being honest with yourself you know you're lucky to have done even that well. The fact that it was a friend who purchased it, and according to his initial reactions even liked it to date, doesn't diminish the brief glow of pride at your accomplishment, but even that doesn't prevent your heart from sinking slightly each time you check your sales figures and see it stuck resolutely at one.
The worst of it all is it all seems so anti-climatic after everything that's come before. Putting aside the initial writing of the pieces, which was spread out over the space of about six months, the work began with having to reformat the original material into shape for publication. There was a certain fun to the frustration of trying to get Microsoft Word to do what you wanted it do to when it came to juggling boxes of text into position.
You may have noticed the standard book format is to have all chapters begin on an odd page. It's not often your writing will conveniently work out that way, and in order to compensate you have to insert the occasional blank page. Of course there was also the delight of trying to figure out how to work the chapter and page number insertion in Word.
I'm sure there is someone who has figured out how to work the headings, but that wasn't me. I settled on having the book title in one header and the chapter number written out on the facing page. There was also the fun of coming up with a title page, acknowledgments, and, perhaps most fun of all, the copyright page. (I believe my copyright page alone is worth the purchase price.)
But that's all in the past now and the only reason for reveling in it is to help compensate for the feelings of emptiness that come with having completed something and waiting for the other shoe to drop, so to speak. Shouldn't there be more to this than what I'm feeling now, which is pretty much nothing whatsoever?
When the copy I ordered to send off to The National Library of Canada in Ottawa in exchange for my ISBN came in the mail the other day, my wife asked why I hadn't ordered one for us to keep. "It's your work after all," she said. "We should have a copy in the house." It hadn't even occurred to me to think of owning a copy. Even when I had been holding a copy of it in my hands, I hadn't felt any real sense of accomplishment or fulfillment of purpose, so why would I want to own it?
For one thing it felt like this book was sort of cheating; it was merely a reformatting of something that I had already written. It wasn't as if I had written it especially for this moment. Oh perhaps when I had started writing the posts months ago I had some vague idea of gathering them together to publish as a companion piece to the novel whose creation they had reflected on, but that was it.
Perhaps that's part of the disquiet right there. NaNoWriMo Notes doesn't have the same investment that The Paths Live Takes has, and was merely a diversion. To me at least it's not the real thing. The real thing has been in the hands of an editor at a publication house for close to four months now awaiting a decision on its fate.