Sunday, August 14, 2011

How does it feel to get a book you wrote?

I'll tell you!
   It's exciting and strange and scary all rolled into one.
   Tomorrow I expect to find Sexton Sand (Sexton Chronicles IV) in my mailbox. Lulu is fast with the orders, considering they print one book at a time. I won't be the first one to receive a copy, and I'm fine with that. I don't get my books for free--because printing costs money--and sometimes I have to wait until I have the cash before I can order a book. I take it as a compliment now when someone beats me to the first copy.

   Still, the book will be in the mail. I know that  book better than anyone alive. I was there when the words Chapter One appeared at the top of a blank page in my word processor. My hands typed the first sentence. My brain (which sometimes I like to call Ralph the Muse) unfolded the first scene, breathed life into the dialog, and drew first blood.
   I was there, or rather here at my desk when I hit the inevitable moment I'll call the "Uh-oh, now what happens?" moment in every manuscript where I wonder if maybe--just maybe--I have come up with a false start that needs to be deep-sixed to the recycle bin. That doesn't happen to me often anymore. This is my 8th book.
   I'll never forget the day Sexton showed up on my doorstep. After years, decades actually, of dreaming I would one day hold a book I wrote in my hot little hands, it was there. I was afraid to open the box. Seriously! I put it on the dining room table and stared at it like it contained some sort of dream-killing bomb. I wondered if the sentences that flowed so easily from my Ralph-the-mused brain through the keyboard, to the screen and finally to the printer, would make any sense in the light of day sandwiched between two thin pieces of cardboard.
   Finally, I cut open the box and gazed on Sexton. My first book. My first foray into the world of Seeking the Paying Customer. Sure, I published the book as a Kindle book a few months earlier, but the Kindle thing didn't seem real. For one thing, I don't have a Kindle and didn't have the software to read the book on my computer. I had no way to see the finished product in that case. The book was (and is) selling as a Kindle book...but it wasn't real to me. Real was in the box on the dining room table. Pulsating. Throbbing and whispering to me, "Open the box, Mr. Author guy. Open the box. See what you have made!"
   When I finally dared open the box, I'm man enough to say my eyes fogged up a little. It was beautiful to me. I counted the hours until school let out so I could take the book to show my wife the teacher, and see her face when she saw that my first book was (of course!) dedicated to her.
   It was cool.
   I was just as excited to open the box with Sexton Spice, but not afraid. I was just as excited to see Storm Clouds Over Sexton, and Just for Fun: A Little Sexton and Some Other Stuff, and Green Goblin, and Bouffon Vert, and Return to Sexton.
   Tomorrow. I got an email the book was mailed on 8/12, and tomorrow is 8/15. The book should be in my mailbox. Sexton Sand. It's a good book. I know. I've read it a couple of times when I revised and edited it. It's got a fancy cover that combined a couple of photos in an artsy-fartsy way. It was my first experience with a photoshop-type program.
   I know I'm not as excited as I was when Sexton arrived, but I'm still excited. I'll get it in my hands and stare at it for a while, remembering how it felt to pound on an electronic typewriter in my room in the fraternity house at college and dream of seeing my book for sale one day. I'll look at the construction of the book. Then I'll flip through it to make sure it's all there, knowing that it will be all there but checking just the same. I'll stick my nose in it and pretend I can smell the paper and ink. If you want to know why I can't, order a copy of Green Goblin.
   I:'ll carry it around with me for a couple of days, pretending I'm trying to see if it's durable but really just showing it off a little. I'm entitled, don't you think?'s pride, pride in the effort it took to produce a good work of fiction, pride in producing a work I feel is good enough to sell with my name in big letters on the cover and spine.
   My book. That is...
          ...That is, until you buy your copy. After you buy your copy, it becomes your book. That's when I get to feel really good--when I know you're being entertained reading your copy of one of the Sexton Chronicles.

   Tomorrow will be a good day.

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