It’s GROWN UP KIND OF PRETTY’s launch day, so of course my mental illness number is so high that my main goal for today is to get all the way through hot yoga with no public weeping. If I can make it to the end, I will lie down, flattened and soaked in my own greases, stinking, trembling on my mat, and Isobel will come around and put cold towels soaked in lavender water on everyone’s eyeballs.
I hereby give myself permission to weep silently and peacefully into my cold towel. If I don’t publicly weep until my cold towel is over my eyes, I am calling today a mental wellness win.
Maybe I should set the bar higher and decide not to publicly weep AFTER, either.
WHY IS LAUNCH DAY SO LARGE AND LOOMY? It’s a weird kind of hopeful hell, though it should be neither, it should be nothing, because on launch day, historically, categorically, provably, inevitably:
It’s not like theatre, where opening night is OPENING NIGHT and your mom is in the audience and you know by the end of act one if it is going well, if people will talk, if your run might get extended. You KNOW.
Launch day is just the day where your book enters the world, and begins the LONG process of trickling out, reader by reader, into the world. Reactions are delayed and diffused.
You spend a couple of years of your life, trying to get this story out, the one that is currently haunting you, to get the CORRECT words down on the paper instead of the stupid damn WRONG ones, the words that make a path that might lead others to the place you see so brightly, so clearly, so beautifully in the confines of your most private brain. And then one day you think, “This is as close as I can get it.” And the book is done.
Then the book goes away from you for a year or more, while you wrestle with whatever story haunts you next, and then BANG! Launch day comes, and with it the sudden dizzying stomach drop of knowing, ITIS OUT THERE, for good or ill, that the people you made up and loved and sheltered are launched and in the world now, that you no longer own them, they are no longer so YOURS in the same way, and you have to let go and hope that they will find good homes in the minds and bookshelves of other people. That you did your job right. That people can follow your path and come to see that place that stood so shiny and truthful in the eye of your mind.
The largest pleasures and pains of being published happen before — when the reviews come in, and THANK GOD this book has had a DELIGHTFUL critical response—reviewers are telling people to READ THIS BOOK. Then the reaction that REALLY counts—the reactions of your actual readers —- happens LATER, and you learn of it in diffused ways, as sales numbers come in and are good or bad, as letters from readers come in, either lovely and heartening or enraged.
On Launch Day, you mostly sit around in your pajamas, trying not to eat starches, trying to wait for a respectably late o’clock in the day before you declare it is cocktail hour. You know. Like any Wednesday.
SO it isn’t about that—it isn’t about the reactions. I think it is about control.
Launch is the day you actually have to let the story go. You know, the one that drove your life like your life was its car for two years. Let it go. There’s a synonym for LAUNCH DAY that I think is a better word, a word that catches what it feels like: Release.
I love this book. I am proud of this book. I think it is funny and hopeful and I bravely went down deep into the salty black mines of my own mental illness and tried to make it also truthful as I used the tale to wrestle with the questions that drive my life. And today, I have to stop all that, and set it down, and walk away, and see who picks it up.
Launch—-no, release—- is the day I have to abandon Mosey and Big and Liza and Roger and Lawrence. Today I will declare that noon is probably five o’clock somewhere, and I will wait, and let go of things, and hope. These people, this story, today I know and feel and accept that they aren’t mine. Not anymore.
They are yours, if you want them.