Over the weekend, in the collectibles section at a used-book sale, I came across a volume whose dedication contained this quote: “There is a moment of profound discouragement which succeeds to prolonged effort; when, the labor which has become a habit having ceased, we miss the sustaining sense of its companionship, and stand, with a feeling of strangeness and embarrassment, before the abrupt and naked result.”
If not for the archaic language, these words could have been uttered by just about any writer I know. But in fact they’re part of the foreword to the epic poem “Lucile” by Owen Meredith, first published in 1890.
After a four-year hiatus, I have a new book coming out. In two weeks I’ll be digging out my good clothes (if I can remember where I stashed them) and putting on lipstick, going out to meet the public and introduce them to my latest creation.
This is supposed to make one feel celebratory, not queasy. But book publicity is a weird concept for most writers. Think about it. We toil in isolation for months if not years, listening to the voices in our heads, becoming their custodians and their champions. We proceed in states ranging from the occasionally euphoric to the deeply discouraged to the philosophically resigned, often in fits and starts and with little input or encouragement from others. When we finish, the result is seldom what we hoped it would be, though the journey has taught us things about ourselves, and the world, we could never have learned in any other way. [Read more…]