On Writing / Publishing

Happy One-Year Birthday, LTSP! Let’s reflect.

What’s incredible (and maybe sad a little) is the fact that my official one year book launch anniversary came and went without celebration (or rememberance) in my world. April first arrived in a flurry of warmth and work overload, and somewhere in the deep folds of my brain I thought to myself: ‘Hey, a year ago today I was likely freaking out because my book was launching’.

I told myself to remember that April 7th was my ‘official’ book launch anniversary. I wanted to do something to commemorate that extraordinary evening in my writing life.

April 7th fell on a Saturday. I went to Wal-Mart in the morning to pick up a few things. I had a playdate with the kids at Burger King for lunch. I went to a friend’s birthday party with Nick in the evening. I was awake, brain functioning for at least 13 hours. I DID NOT REMEMBER MY ONE YEAR BOOK LAUNCH ANNIVERSARY.

What does that mean? When did I finally remember or realize that I missed the date? I remembered Monday. In the evening. Just as dinner was ending. Nick was sitting at the table beside me.

I didn’t say a word about it. I kept my forgetting to myself. Why?

I’ve been thinking about where I was last year at this time.

Here, I’ve downloaded some photos to help me remember specifics:

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I remember when I picked up the boxes of my book from my publisher. Look at that! I stacked them and tooks pictures of them, delaying my pleasure to open them because I could barely believe they were real. They were real. Very real.

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I let Miller climb on them and pose. She looks good on them, eh? Maybe she’ll be a writer one day. To her, they were a fun mountatin to climb. I suppose publishing my first book wasn’t much different. I had my own mountain to climb.

I was doing radio and print interviews. I was working on my press kit. I was inviting everyone and their dog to the book launch. I was planning guest speaking events. I was hoping and praying and hoping that my book would sell well, and that by mid March I’d be heading out on a Canadian book tour.

Ahem. That never happened.

The launch was a complete success. Thanks to the Editing & Publishing Practicum team, Black Moss Press, Marty Gervais…and all the ‘fans’ who came to hear myself and Roger Bell (he was launching his new book as well) read…and to buy our books and get them signed.

I remember shopping at Devonshire Mall for hours because I couldn’t decide what to wear to the launch. I bought a sexy cool dress, that to this day hangs in my closet NOT WORN, and some black pants and a white sweater. I wore the latter. I was comfortable and covered. Yes, I thought about people looking at my body and finding my ‘leftover’ belly. Even as I was reading about my vagina. I know.

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This is me reading. I was so flippin’ nervous. I thought I was gonna barf then crap my pants. Not necessarily in that order. I was dizzy when I was called on stage to read. I was told to keep it short, get right to the reading. So I did. I read ‘Mom Boobs’ and ‘The Practice Vagina’…and I think a poem or two. I remember trying not to look at the crowd. I remember feeling on FIRE. My body was overheating and so was my brain – I was making people laugh so hard I could barely hear what I was reading.

THAT WAS THE BEST PART. Making people laugh. Reading words that I wrote that caused people to laugh. To enjoy themselves. Maybe to feel a bit uncomfortable but still manage a giggle. I felt like I was born to be on stage, reading my words, making people laugh. I remembered how often I was on stage when I was a teenager in high school, leading pep rallies and being in shows. I loved it then too. I asked myself – why don’t I do this more? I wished like hell I would have the opportunity to do it again and again.

The reading was over so very fast. I answered some questions. I was shaking. Then I was whisked off to do an interview, then to the table for book signing. I remember having a conversation with a local journalist who bought my book and wanted it signed. He told me he didn’t like the word ‘vagina’, which surprised me. I asked him what he called it then. He shook his head and didn’t tell me what other word he used. That was probably better. I remember signing his book like this: VAGINA. Love it. Thanks for reading, Vanessa.

Yup. He shook his head at me again.

I remember doing a shot. Must’ve been tequila by the look on my face and the lemon in my mouth.

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I remember feeling completely overwhelmed, elated, excited, exhausted, sick, and a bit more overwhelmed.

I didn’t eat. I didn’t drink save for that one shot of Tequila. I talked to everyone but can’t remember what I said. Except to the vagina-word-not-liker journalist.

The whirlwind continued for a bit post the launch, but my book never made a best seller list. I sent it and my press kit out to a thousand places and people. I got one person who followed up. I spoke in some classrooms. I started this blog. I very slowly realized that the reality of having one’s first book published and attempting to market it one’s own was all very daunting.

I didn’t/haven’t given up. Not at all. But priorities have shifted.

Here’s my truth:

I am grateful and honoured to have a book published. I am honoured to be a Black Moss Press author. I am glad I wrote the words I wrote. I am amazed that I have an actual book to hold in my hands. It was a dream come true on so many levels.

But the truth is I still want the book tour, the interview with George Strombolopoulous, the spot on the best seller list.

And why shouldn’t I, right? Why shouldn’t any writer? I simply cannot and will not abandoned these parts of the dream.

Many wonderful and amazing things have been ‘born’ out of my book being published. I won’t deny that.

The truth is that being a writer means holding onto dreams in every shape that they come – and doing your best to help shape them yourself…and the with love and support of your family, friends, editors, readers, your publisher(s) and all the people who believe in your dream too.

Here’s a link to the blog I wrote after my book launch…a year ago…if you’d like to reminisce. If anything, please notice all the laughing faces…

http://vanessashields.posterous.com/book-launch-photos

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One thought on “Happy One-Year Birthday, LTSP! Let’s reflect.

  1. Ah sister-writer, you’re making me nostalgic too, for my launch was two years ago on April 9th. Thanks so much for sharing your pictures – I love the one of you reading with your hand lifted. That sweater looks gorgeous on you! Perfect look for your launch! Looking back and celebrating memories is a joyous thing.But don’t forget to look ahead too – there is a shelf-load of books in your future! Your memoir, your young adult novels, your books (yes, books plural) of poetry, and every one of them will bring a great celebration and a timeless memory.Lift up your head and rejoice!

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