In mid October I’m going back to Louisiana for a good, long visit. And the biggest problem I’m having isn’t completing the growing stack of tasks I want to knock out before I get there, but keeping my expectations in check. But since this is a literary sort of blog, let me take a step back and frame this in terms of the book I should not have put out last year.
In order to talk about All Saints Day of the Dead, I probably should tell you about my 5 by 50 goal. You can read about it in this extensive interview in The Yard: Crime Blog, but here’s the short version. It’s five books published by my fiftieth birthday. Right now I got two down, with three to go in a little more than two years. So I’m basically on track (I have a couple book length projects in draft).
The thing is, I rushed out All Saints. I moved Heaven and Earth to get it done by Halloween of last year because the book is (you guessed it, at least if you’re Catholic) set around the All Saints holy day, 1 November. What I should have done was push the publication to the run up to Halloween/All Saints Day this year.
The overall lesson for other independent writers being, to steal the title of Steven Pressfield’s book, nobody wants to read your shit. So you might as well wait. I had somehow deluded myself into 1) thinking the world was waiting for my next book, and 2) that last October was appreciably different than this October.
Adding insult to injury, now I’m in a position where I don’t have a book ready to put out this year. If I had put the unpublished final draft of All Saints aside and started working on my next project, I could have gotten the necessary feedback to smooth out a fairly big narrative flaw in the book that some especially insightful readers have cited in the context of otherwise glowing reviews.
So, leading up to my Louisiana trip in seven weeks, I’m actually in a very similar situation–holding a manuscript that could be published within the next few weeks, giving me a new work to advertise during the various engagements around Acadiana I have planned. But I’m not going to make the same mistake twice. Instead of widely publishing the piece I’m working on, I’m going to have a few “artist proof” versions printed that I can hand out to individual readers as the mood strikes me.
As for managing my expectations for the 21 days I’ll be there, that’s an ongoing challenge. There will be at least three festivals, two big parties in Lafayette and Lake Charles, extensive crisscrossing of state highways and local points of interest with my nieces and nephews, most of whom are in the early stages of their adult lives . . . and at least one reading event, which I hope to announce soon.
This is the point where I want to say how awesome it will be. But expectations can be a bitch, and so I will refrain. More to the point, I still have lots of work to do between now and then, and I think that‘s the right place for my attention right now. I have Korean War era letters from my uncle to transcribe, a manuscript to polish, exercises to do, engagements to coordinate, and plans to make.
But still . . . it’s gonna be great!