By Pari Noskin Taichert
My favorite time-stealing, attention-sucking, procrastination-aiding computer game is Tumblebugs. After each round, a humorous saying pops up as a kind of reward. My favorite is, "Confidence is what you feel before you understand the situation."
Ah, Dear Grasshopper, it’s true.
A few years ago, I was in full swing, agonizing about being a small-press author. Should I wait to see if BELEN would sell to a big NYC publisher? Would I doom myself to a tiny career by staying with the University of New Mexico Press? Oh, hell, what should I have for breakfast?
I’m sure most writers often succumb to this weird desire to try to predict the future. We’re victims of the feeling that a wrong move can cast us, and our works, into oblivion quicker than snow melting on a sunny sidewalk.
She said, "Pari, you’re only a book virgin once."
Alas, my publishing cherry had already been popped.
Peters is right, though. Debut authors (Hey, J.T. and Alex, what do you think?) only have one chance to be fresh and new–without the outward expectations that come from a more established career.
However, I find it a tad inaccurate for those of us who have been at this profession a little longer.
Without lapsing into too much grooviness, I’d like you to look at this link. Here, you see THE FOOL in a traditional tarot deck. (I have a much prettier deck and might be persuaded to bring it to LCC or Malice this year — and do some readings — if enticed abundantly. But I digress . . . )
If you look at the card, you’ll see a youth, haversack on his back, dreamy and joyous expression on his innocent face. Look a little closer and you’ll notice he’s about to step off a cliff.
Yep. I think that’s a marvelous metaphor for how I’m feeling right now (and why the saying from Tumblebugs might be more apt).
Book #3 is at the publisher; I got the 13-digit ISBN on Friday. Rather than feeling the ennui of the initiated, I’m incredibly optimistic.
I’m not the only one who isn’t jaded, though experience might tempt many a writer to focus only on the negatives. Most novelists I know think that this, their next novel, might be the one that breaks out, that establishes unequivocally a career, that makes enough that they can relinquish half of their promotional responsibilities, or earns at least the dollars necessary for their children’s first year at a state university.
Indeed, I think many of us become blithering optimists with each new release AND with each project begun.
We become book virgins again and again and again . . .
What say you, fellow writers?
Do you feel this way? Or, do you exercise caution in your heart, know not to expect too much?
What say you, fellow readers?
Is there anything comparable in other fields? Heck, do you feel this way, too, each time one of your favorite authors comes out with a new book?
BTW: A moment of gratitude and silence to honor MLK today. And, when you’re through with the quiet, go to this site and listen.