Waiting. I’ve never been good at it. When I was a girl and Halloween fell on a school night, the school day lasted a week, no, a year. Waiting for this book to be published is like waiting for that moment when I would step out the door in my gypsy costume (scarf tied backward on my head, all my mother’s strings of beads around my neck, lipstick all over my face) and begin to relieve all the neighborhood moms of their candy.
I’ve been working with book designer, Vladimer Verano, at Third Place Press which is connected to Third Place Books, a local independent bookstore in Seattle. I chose to publish with them after meeting Vlad and being impressed with his professionalism and craft. At our first meeting, he outlined the steps that produce a book, calling me back to earth when I said things like, “What if I get 500 orders the first week?” or “What about my blog readers in Germany?”
“Let’s start with you sending me your draft so I can give you an estimate,” he said calmly.
After I signed the estimate, I checked in with him once a month –or so I imagine. I had only a vague notion that he had other clients and I had entered at the bottom of the list. It took me a while to get used to his style and pacing which he maintains with admirable unflappability. When I made it to the top of the list, things– including my anticipatory mechanisms–accelerated.
The “interiors” came and I saw what the pages would look like. I posted my excitement on Facebook. I went into a flurry over the size of the book and the font.
“I’m afraid it doesn’t look like a real book,” I fussed.
“It looks just right,” Gwen, my neighbor who knows something about just about everything, assured me. “It’s what I expect when I open a book.”
“It’s the size of a trade paperback,” said Joan, my friend with the theological chops.
When it came time to choose the book cover, I showed the mock-ups to far too many people, weakening my decision making ability. I usually don’t vacillate. I make quick decisions and then live with them. But I was so confused by the time everyone had weighed in that my friend Nancy’s voice scarcely penetrated:
“Whatever you decide will be right,” she said.
I chose the basic concept for the cover and sent Vlad some images from what he referred to as my “archives,” but what is essentially several disorganized boxes of photos. We finalized the book cover.
“It’s time to start telling everyone that the book is coming out soon,” Vlad said.
This was rather an unfortunate way to put it. It was a Monday. I thought he meant I had until Wednesday. I immediately posted on Facebook, put my webmaster on alert and called Danielle who does all my print work at Office Depot to talk about making postcards.
The next day Vlad emailed me to say that the proof was ready, I could pick it up at the bookstore which closed at 10:00, and he was “calling out sick” the next day but he would talk to me on Thursday. Again, unfortunate language although I was halted briefly in my flights of unreality to wonder what part of the country nurtures the expression “calling out sick” instead of “calling in sick.” I raced out after choir practice that very night and picked up my proof which I am thrilled to report looks just like a real book. When I didn’t hear from Vlad on Thursday, I knew he had died and Third Place Press had closed its doors for good.
The weekend came. Weekends weren’t so bad because I knew there was no chance of hearing that the book was published and on sale. So I used my considerable fidget units to hem some pants, iron a skirt too wrinkled to wear since last spring, re-arrange one piece of music to accommodate this quarter’s OK Chorale’s diminished bass section and another to bring down the stratospheric soprano part for the church choir; and rub Goo-Gone over half a dozen bottles that have been cluttering up my kitchen for months.
A week ago Monday, I e-mailed Vlad to ask if it’s too late to order more books as I have some book readings coming up. No, not too late, I am next in the print run, and give him a few more days to get all the paperwork together.
A few days. That’s maybe two, four at the most. But by last Friday, I had heard exactly nothing. Last weekend I might have finally started a mailing list, something I have superstitiously put off for months. Now I feel justified in having not wasted my time because clearly the book is never going to be published.
Yesterday rolls around. I send a “check-in” e-mail. Vlad responds, detailing the next few steps, and ending with “I understand that you’re eager, but please be patient as we move through the final process a step at a time.”
I show the e-mail to Nina (rhymes with Dinah). “Do you think I’m being a nuisance?” I ask.
She laughs. Her laugh is infectious. “Maybe you don’t need to e-mail him again,” she says indulgently.
I forward the e-mail exchange to Nancy, who has a Libra sun, and ask her what she thinks.
“I think,” she responds. “You’re in Narnia. He’s in the big old world outside the wardrobe.”
Nicely put, I thought. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is where I am right now. That I have been able to sit in a chair and write 998 words, some of them formed into complete sentences, is a good sign that a foot is protruding from the wardrobe. I expect the book will be published before too long.