A large part of a writer’s life is about anticipation.
First there’s the can I even *write* a book? anticipation. Then, assuming you can, you move on to the anticipation of getting an agent/finding a publisher/getting a contract. Then there’s the wait to get the book on the shelves. The anticipation of reviews, of reader reactions…and that’s skipping a bunch of waity stages in between.
Many of these stages one becomes accustomed to (or at least, one does if one is me; I have no idea, really, if others do.) The wait for the book to hit the shelves, for example–for me, I was prrrreeeeeeetty flipping antsy waiting for the first several to get out there, but although I’m still excited and delighted by each new arrival, I’m much less rattly about it than I used to be. Part of that’s probably due to being involved with so many other books, but it also becomes a matter of believing that this is, in fact, going to happen.
I am at the Waiting To Believe stage with my comic book, and it is every bit as bad as it is with a book. Maybe worse, because it’s quite literally five and a half years since I started down this road, and although it was five years between writing URBAN SHAMAN and its publication, I’ve actually overseen every step of the comic book from a managerial point of view, so in some ways I feel even more invested and committed to it than I do with the books (which in and of itself blows my mind).
One of the worst aspects of the anticipation game is trying to figure numbers and sales, which I’m driving myself nuts doing. I’ve never done it with the books–my family said to me, “Did you ever imagine you’d sell 40,000 copies of your first novel?” and I had no answer. I hadn’t ever thought about it beyond, you know, gosh, it’d be swell to sell A ZILLION COPIES and become a NYT Bestseller! I’ve wanted to sell enough to earn out, and knew what numbers those would take, but it’s not the same killer-diller shuffle game I find myself playing with the comic book. What gets me is that yeah, some 20K people fairly reliably buy my books in the first few months they come out–but I’ve only got direct access to maybe a thousand of them, so I’ve got no way to let most of them know about the comic. So here I am doing dumb mind games and anticipating how many people I’ll *really* reach vs how many I COULD reach if the world were a perfect flawless place of instantaneous sales-oriented communication.
Then there’s a more prosaic anticipation, like the one I’ve spent the last week in: the one where I wonder if the copy edits I sent (via courier) on Thanksgiving were actually lost in the mail, because they didn’t turn up in New York on the 2nd like they were supposed to. Or the 3rd, or 4th, or, in fact, until this afternoon, an entire *week* after they were due back. Totally out of my control once it left my hands, and yet it’s a genuine nerve-wracking anticipation. And so on and so forth–I could probably list about three hundred more things that are part of the day to day writing life that are all about *waiting*.
It’s a permanent state of nerve-wracking, I tell you. And I’m supposed to be on vacation!