One year ago today …

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I realized earlier this week that I was coming up on a major anniversary. Typically I don’t put much stock in anniversaries because I’m so busy trying to keep up with my present responsibilities that dedicating a day to something that happened a year ago, or five years ago, or hell, even fifty years ago, just isn’t practical. I make an exception for birthdays, which are absolutely sacred. Everyone deserves one special day, one day to hear that the people in their life are glad they were born. It’s a nice idea anyway.

But when I realized that today is the one-year anniversary of the day I hit the publish button for Scourge of the Righteous Haddock, I felt strangely nostalgic. My book has been available to the public for one year. I don’t know how many people have read it in that amount of time. I do know that it’s now available in three libraries across two states. It feels so terribly long ago that I was panicking about pushing that button, terrified of what people would think and say, so incredibly vulnerable, and all over this tiny thing. This orange book with my Emily on the cover.

It’s strange because after all that effort–writing and editing and formatting–I hit the publish button, threw an incredible book release party, and then moved on. I started writing Vestal, finished writing Vestal, started writing Book Three, and have just set Book Three aside to begin the next round of editing on Vestal before sending it out to agents and publishers. It’s not that I haven’t had a thought to spare for my firstborn; I’ve actually dedicated a great deal of time to obsessing over reviews and wondering how many people have read it and whether I really know their honest opinions of it (which is tough to track when so many of the people reading your work are friends).

An entire year has passed. And I feel like I spent so much of that time waiting for something to happen, for someone to love Scourge of the Righteous Haddock, or hate it. I’m still not entirely confident that I have a solid grasp of the public’s perception of my beloved novel.

There was another anniversary as well this week, and equally significant. My boss’ son turned two on August 12 and I realized that my book–the text part, anyway–was also two years old. I remembered because my boss sent me a text message announcing the birth of his son Jasper about half an hour after I finished writing Scourge of the Righteous Haddock so we sent one another congratulatory messages.

Somehow, that day feels more recent than the day I hit publish in my Amazon Direct Publishing account. It had been a hot weekend and my boyfriend was out of town visiting his family. I was determined to push through and finish the book that weekend, and had probably spent at least a dozen hours sitting in the art room hammering away at my computer. I rushed the ending in my eagerness to be done with the project and eventually had to go back and flesh it out during the editing process. But sometime Sunday afternoon, it was suddenly done. I texted my boyfriend and he responded by congratulating me and asking me for the final two words.

“them, unseen.”

Nothing exceptionally provocative there. But nonetheless, those were the final two words of my novel. My novel. This thing I had wanted to produce since I was a child. It’s hard to talk about the wonder and challenge of producing a novel without veering creepily into some kind of childbirth metaphor. I’ve always avoided that, and I always plan to avoid it, but it takes some effort. Especially when I’m not sure whether to refer to this as the anniversary of an accomplishment or my book’s birthday–first or second, or possibly both. Either way, time flies and my book is growing older, picking up the occasional Amazon or Goodreads review, slowly finding its way into more libraries. And I’m so fascinated and proud of each new step, even as I’m impatient and wishing these steps were bigger, wishing my book wasn’t a publisherless “bastard” as a former coworker once aptly called it.

I’m sure as my book count rises and the dates add up, I’ll start to forget the anniversaries the way parents often don’t even have a baby book for their second or third children but the first kid’s exploits in first steps and first foods are extensively documented. I believe that the best is yet to come–my best writing, some kind of positive feedback from a publisher, a steadier income from writing. But it’s nice to look back and remember that not so long ago I didn’t have a book under my belt. Or any clue how to go about formatting a 120,000-word document into an ebook. And today I’m the proud parent of a one-year-old novel with a bright future. And at least two future siblings on the way, provided I don’t lose my sanity in the next two years.

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