Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Amen, Anne Lamott

BEAUTIFUL DISASTER, my first novel, is set to debut right along with the New Year. Even with finished copies set to arrive, it’s as surreal as a winning lottery ticket. I keep checking the numbers; I think I’m good. We’re past the point of a befuddled call from Berkley saying, “Sorry, wrong writer. Spillane, Spinelli… Spinella, they all sound alike.” I doubt my angst is different from thousands of other writers who look forward to 2011 debuts. It’s one reason I wanted to be part of this group, Girlfriends Book Club. Along with the anticipation and anxiety of publication, I feel oddly isolated. It didn’t seem to matter so much when it was just me, Mia, and Flynn muddling our way through rewrite number four. While their story is a twelve year journey—from a college campus in Athens, Georgia, through a grueling separation, to a hard fought ending—the writing time was exactly half that and no less challenging. I was fine with the process; I used rejection as a catalyst. I was slaphappy silly when Writers House took me on, and relieved when the book sold—I’d gotten the monkey off my back.

Well, say goodbye to the monkey and welcome to the zoo. And, ohmigosh, while there’s so much to see, it’s the learning curve of salesmanship that has me staring stark-eyed through the bars. A writer with the sales finesse of Willy Loman has been catapulted into Billy Mays territory—and the competition is fierce. I don’t know a lot of novelists, not personally. But I watch them. I’m awed by the ones who can make literary connections with the ease of chatting up moms on the playground. They’re adept at capitalizing on social networks, dropping pithy comments on Twitter, and using Linkedin to create a cyber-empire of devoted readers and writers. For me, book writing has been a hindrance to those outlets, resulting in what, by the definition of any good analyst, amounts to a social disorder. Of course, I’ll soldier on, getting the hang of things, because like rewrites and revisions, promotion is a necessary tool of the trade.

This final phase of publication was easy to spot, like the passing of a torch. About a month ago, notes from my editor began to dwindle while emails from my shiny new publicist picked up pace. I like to think of her as shiny, sparkly with a wand that will make this all turn out okay. However, no matter what happens, it’s Anne Lamott’s words I’ll take to the finish line: “Publication is not going to change your life or solve your problems. Publication will not make you more confident or more beautiful, and it will probably not make you any richer.” Amen, Anne Lamott. I’ve already had a glimpse of the extremes, one not so pretty review and a request to take a look at the book for movie rights, all within the same hour. Go figure. The everyday people around me are supportive and excited—confused as to why it takes so damn long. Prudently, I’ve corralled expectations, finding satisfaction in the last link. It connects, Flynn, a character who channeled through me like an electric current, to a story that, I believe, is worthy of him, transposing imagination into typeset ink and beautiful cover art. Less idyllic, these last steps have me scrambling for old newspaper colleagues and alumni contacts, wondering if I’m doing everything I can or just doing it all wrong. Either way, I’m ready for this thing to which I have been taskmaster and champion to pitch in and do its part. I’m ready for BEAUTIFUL DISASTER to speak for itself.

Visit me at http://www.lauraspinella.net/


12 comments:

  1. Looking foward to the release, Laura. Sounds like you're taking it all in stride. Are you from Georgia? Why did you choose Athens as your setting?

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  2. Welcome Laura! Don't worry, we've all been right where you are . . . and are here to help you, so feel free to holler when you need to.

    Love your cover!

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  3. Laura, Promotion is so confusing to me. I think in the end, you do what you can and what you feel comfortable doing, and the rest is up to any number of factors outside our sphere of influence. Beautiful cover, btw! The book sounds fascinating :)

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  4. Hi Karin, no stride...blind leap. I'm actually from Long Island. But UGA is my alma mater and the setting lent itself to the story. Thanks, Judy, I'll send up a flare if need be! Maria, thanks for the insight. I think you're right about that sphere of influence, which is my current learning curve!

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  5. BEAUTIFUL cover! I love it.

    There's so much involved with a launch, but the best part of all is holding your book in your hands. Just the most amazing feeling.

    Congrats on the debut. I read up on it at your website and it sounds so intriguing!

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  6. Welcome, Laura! I'm the other newbie in this blog--with a March debut. I hear everything you're saying and I'm right behind you! Can't wait to read your book.

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  7. Laura, that cover makes me want to read your book: Right. This. Minute. Enjoy the ride!

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  8. Great post, Laura! I agree mostly with the Lamott quote, but I do believe the culmination of all of your experience in reaching this goal -- getting your book published -- *is* life-changing. Be sure and savor each moment! Best of luck with "Beautiful Disaster."

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  9. Laura, your cover is gorgeous! The book sounds wonderful, and you sound like you've got a great head on your shoulders (and a sense of humor that will carry you through anything). :-) Enjoy the crazy ride! So glad you'll be sharing your journey with us.

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  10. Welcome, Laura! It's wonderful to have you here ;). Looking forward to Beautiful Disaster and wishing you well as you jump into the excitement -- and alternating states of chaos and terror (LOL) -- that come with a debut release. We're here for you! p.s. I *love* Anne Lamott and all her words of wisdom, too...

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  11. Thank you everyone, such wonderful comments! And yes, for an arranged marriage I did all right with the cover! My eternal thanks to Richard Tushman, who designed it!! I look forward to reading everybody's blogs!!

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  12. Love the title! It would make me pick that book up to see what it's about.

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