Tomorrow, my book launches. It will pass from my hands into yours, the readers, and it will no longer be my little secret, the little thing that I am proud of and happy about. It will be yours, to do with as you wish. Right now I’m sitting at my computer after having already sat in an office chair for eleven hours today for my day job. I’m sitting here thinking about what all this means, if it means anything at all, what I’m feeling if I could only understand what I’m feeling, how I am supposed to be feeling. I’m sitting here eyes burning, my back and hips are sore, I have been holding this posture since five this morning, looking at the keys instead of at the screen when I can
I am sitting here, thinking of before and after. Thinking of before and after.
After tonight there will not ever be another first novel, another first time, there will never be another before, there will only be after. And tomorrow will come and it will pass, and the next day I will go back to work and sit in my little cubicle, and nothing will be different, except my book will be out there. People will be reading it, judging it as good or bad, judging me as a good writer or a hack. They will catch all my mistakes, point out every time I comma spliced instead of using a period, they will wonder what the hell is going on in my head that I could come up with this shit. After tonight there will only be after.
And so here I sit trying to process all of this in a way that I can understand, and for me that means doing the only thing I seem to be any good at, filling my head with noise and pounding on the keys, trying to capture a little of this, all these big feelings and thoughts, trying to stop myself from actually feeling anything, to mark myself as an observer of these things, instead of a participant.
I wanted to hide, to turn off my phone, to sit on the back deck and play my guitar, maybe have a nice meal. I wanted this day to pass, just blow over, I wanted to try and act like it didn’t matter, that I was somehow above all of this. My wife, God bless her, recognizes my particular brand of crazy; she knows when I’m a mess. So we are having a small celebration, a nice compromise between my desire to shut the shades and watch superhero movies all day and ignore the world, and her desire for a brass band and fireworks and a small but tasteful parade in my honor.
She is proud of me.
She is the reason I have done anything good, ever.
This is a dream, understand? a lifetime goal, and tomorrow, it will be done. Tomorrow, there is only after. It is real and it is happening, and none of the things I am feeling about it makes sense.
I believe in this strange little book, about what I think it means, what I think it says. I believe in it, I really do, or I would have never made it this far, I would have quit the first time I got a rejection, the first time I had to work for it, the first time I had to care. I believe in it, I think it is important, and I think it is something that might speak to someone, maybe. I believe.
But somehow I can’t seem to believe that other people will believe in it too.
And everyone I know has been so supportive and so proud of me, they’ve pre-ordered, and they’ve retweeted and reposted, they’ve liked, and shared my stuff, they’ve talked about it. Everyone has been so magnificent and supportive and proud of me and I couldn’t be more grateful.
So thank you. All of you. My friends and my family of course, they kind of have to be. They see me all the time and I am obnoxious; I don’t let them off the hook, I say all cutting and sarcastic, hey dickwad, hey thanks for nothing, what is a retweet too much to ask? So they do, maybe partly because I’m a dick, and also because they love me and genuinely want the best for me.
Fuck me, I swear I’m welling up here.
So yeah, the family, they have to, But there’s a lot more that don’t, old friends and friends of friends, and people that friended me on Facebook because they thought I was my dad, or because they are friends with my mom or brother, people that kinda remember me from high school, or that I maybe hung out with a while in California, people that don’t have to care, but somehow they do.
And I have to remind myself that it’s ok to feel good about this, to celebrate, to mark the occasion. It is ok to feel proud, to not try and make it less than it is, to minimize it, to joke it away, to hide behind my arrogant disdain for all things squishy and real. I have to remind myself that this is real, it is happening, and it won’t all be taken away, that this isn’t some sick and elaborate joke, that this is just the most sadistic prank in the history of the world, that I did this, and it is ok to feel things about it, even if they don’t make any sense.
I’m fucking tired right now, which has left me wide open. I got up early for work, and I’m not a person that does well early in the best of circumstances. I couldn’t sleep well last night; I kept waking up, kept hearing things, kept thinking my alarm didn’t go off. I suspect I’m not going to tonight either. And now the kids have gone to bed, and the house is dark, and I’ve filled my head with noise and I’m sitting here pounding the keys again to make this make a kind of sense.
I will wake up on Wednesday, and everyone will go back to not caring, this time will pass and I will go back to my grey little cubicle and everything will be exactly the same. the same, except for one small thing. On Wednesday, I’m a published author. A novelist. What I’ve always wanted to be since I was a little kid, since I learned to read and realized that I could do that too, put words in a pleasing order. I could do that too, and so I always thought that would be what I would become. An author. A real one, with books out that people could have on their shelves, that people could read.
I’m going to go to sleep tonight (hopefully), and when I wake up, I’ll be a published author.
Tomorrow, I will have done it.
Tomorrow, that little kid? He will be proven right.
Tonight? Tonight is before. Tonight I get to sit here with my aching hips and my burning eyes, and my old sore back, and I get to be afraid, and confused and hopeful. I get to sit here in my beautiful life, and I get to have the best problem in the world: what the hell am I supposed to do now that my dream has come true?
Tomorrow is after. Right now is the last before I will ever have when it comes to writing. After tonight I will never have my first novel published ever again.
Thank you all so much for all the support and the sharing and the kind words. Thank you. Really. It means a lot. If you read Antiartists, adn you like it tell someone. If you read it and you hate it, just give it to your weird nephew, the one that gave your sister such a hard time growing up. He’s gonna love it.