Let’s do the numbers.
Eighteen. That’s how many months it’s been since I was offered a book deal.
Seven. I’m a fan of prime numbers, but this one leaves me a little conflicted, as it represents the number of years it took from the day that I wrote the first word of The Lemoncholy Life Of Annie Aster to arrive at the above offer.
Nine-hundred. The total number of pages I wrote to get to the four-hundred I kept. (That’s around 225,000 words, folks.)
One-hundred-thirty. Rejections or nonresponses from literary agents.
Three. Rounds of edits with my publishing house.
Two. Days until my book launches.
Is it any surprise, then, that I’m a mess?
I’m not even sure what I’m supposed to be feeling right now, to be honest. At the moment, I can identify anticipation, dread, and anxiety, but there’s a lot more going on that that.
You see, this book has been more than a journey. It’s been my therapy, my safe house, the repository of my dreams, and, on the odd occasion, my bête noire.
It has sandwiched itself around two of the most significant moments in my life—the first one being when I said, “I do,” and the second one occurring five years before saying those two words—while bawling my eyes out, I might add—when I’d moved to New Zealand.
I’m what you might call a DOMA (The Defense Of Marriage Act) refugee, having moved there when the country of my birth stymied all my efforts, our efforts, to gain residency for my husband. And, yes, I did experience some resentment, but, believe me, all of those negative emotions were washed away in the rotunda of San Francisco’s City Hall October 8, 2013.
But back to the book. The truth is that, even though I wrote Lemoncholy without any expectations, I did, as I mentioned above, dream. I couldn’t help it. My imagination has been an irrepressible compulsion and constant companion since I can remember, and it has a very big personality, let me tell you.
Case in point: Do you know how many times I’ve been on the Ellen DeGeneres Show? Probably a thousand. Almost all of them in the shower. (I can’t be held responsible for where your imagination takes you, but, really?)
Each visit would follow a similar script. I’d say something funny and Ellen would laugh and laugh, which would prompt me to be even funnier. I mean, I would be an unstoppable comedic force. My witticisms would be endless, and while gasping for air, Ellen would invariably say, “Scott, you are the most charming guest in the history of my show. Would you please come to my house tonight to meet Portia? We’re having hot dogs.”
“I’d love to!” I’d say. “But my family is with me.”
Realizing that she’d bitten off more than she could chew, but raised “right proper,” Ellen would tell me to bring the whole crew.
And I would.
But here’s the problem with dreams. Book launches don’t care about them. Nor do they care about the risk you took when you walked away from your career, the uncountable hours you logged, the invitations you turned down to meet deadlines, or the sacrifices your husband made so that you could pursue them.
The truth is, I don’t think book launches care about anything. They’re just… a thing.
And no matter how big my dreams, no matter the scope of my imagination, another sad truth is that my book can be a commercial flop.
Will that have negated the eight years of effort I put in? Well, it’ll hurt—I’ll be the first to admit that—but no, it won’t. And that’s because of one last truth.
Come hell or high water, I’ve caught the writing bug, and no matter where Lemoncholy lands in terms of economic wishful thinking, my imagination won’t be denied.