|No amount of philosophy can ever prevent the screaming.|
I'm at a funky, unnerving point this week. Advanced review copies of my two romances are circulating, and the paperback and ebook versions of my April Blaze seem to already be available to buy from eHarlequin.
Reviews and ratings are already trickling in for both stories. Positive ones. Out of the blue I discovered that Caught on Camera (the Blaze) had earned four-and-a-half stars from Andrew Shaffer at Romantic Times (you need a subscription to view the review for the time being, but the highlights are on my books page). The story also received glowing praise from Penelope's Romance Reviews—Penny and I are RWA chaptermates, and she told me up front in her charmingly blunt way that if she hated it, she'd be diplomatic enough not to post her opinions. She doesn't mince words or kiss asses, so I was relieved as well as surprised when I earned a lovely write-up from her this morning. Also today, I Twitter-stumbled (twumbled?) across this review from a self-described Harlequin aficionado. Colored me flattered!
So I'm on cloud nine, right? Dear God, no! I'm terrified.
I've never owned a new car, but I have to imagine this is what it feels like, right after you've been handed the papers and keys to your dream ride. At this moment in time, it's perfect. Unmarred by scratches and mud and spilled drinks. The second it leaves the lot, the danger begins. You almost beg for a dent, just to get it out of the way, so that you may give up the suffocating dream of perfection and the pressure that comes with it. That's where I am now, waiting for the first inevitable ding. Practically praying for one, so I can breathe and move on in glorious, dignified imperfection.
When I reach this phase and become nervous and self-doubtful and sometimes downright paranoid, my husband likes to lay that line on me. "Someone already hates your book." What he means is, no matter how great a job a writer did, somebody, somewhere, won't like it. Quite possibly, many somebodies won't like it. It's a scientific fact. When he says that to me, he does so hoping to set me free from my own expectations. It pretty much works, at least in theory.
This job comes patterned in alternating stripes of relief and fear. Relief at the hands of a satisfied reviewer, fear that the next one that won't be so kind or impressed. Relief to have finished a book, sold a book, seen its cover, smelled its pages. Fear of what will happen to it, thrust out into the world and the interwebs. For each book, this pattern has a peak, and the descent down the other side eventually smooths out as my release day [or week, or month] high fades and my focus shifts to the next story. I'm not there yet, though. With a double romance debut ahead of me in the next month, the white-knuckling is just beginning. I am making the jerky, clunky ascent to the zenith of the roller coaster's highest drop, awaiting free fall, twists and turns before I'm deposited sweaty but safe back on the ground. And wouldn't you know it? The second I am, I'm already counting my tickets and scouting for the next ride.