One Year Later...

One Year Later... toast cnc 2

Something insanely wonderful happened around this time last year. A big box of books showed up on my doorstep, and all of them had my name and very goofy title on the cover. My first novel, published! In many respects this has been the best year of my life, and when I stop to consider the reality of all that's happened from March 1 2013 to now, I am amazed, grateful, punch drunk with joy. You know. Irritating. 

But say I was given the chance to do it all again. Would I change anything?

I thought about this, and here's what I came up with: advice I would have given myself a year ago when this was all beginning. If you're on the brink of publication yourself, either self-published or otherwise, please tell me if you agree. Or wait 365 days and then tell me.

Ahem. My brilliant advice:

1) Move on!

Every time I'd finish a draft of Cinnamon Toast and the End of the World, I'd go through the same reactions: happiness, a sense of accomplishment, sharing the news...wondering what to do with myself, res-021boredom, moping, sadness, reaching for the manuscript to give it another go. Giving up the book was like being unemployed and bereaved at the same time. I missed working on it. I really, really missed the characters.

Of course, when it was bound, printed and available for purchase, all this must have changed, right? Nope. It was worse. I found it almost impossible to get committed to a new book when I was still so excited about Cinnamon Toast hitting the shelves, and so worried wondering what was going to happen to it. And I still find it difficult to concentrate on the current one if I get any Toast-related news, good or bad. I also have to face the fact that I'll probably never love another fictional character as much as I love Stephen Shulevitz, and he's gone. A year on, I'm still dealing with this.

2) Become really, really tough.

My imaginary world is now an object, a product with a price tag. People can enjoy, ignore, dismiss, or disparage it for any reason at all. Or for none. I know it's important to have a thick skin. But I'm still uncertain about where to get one or how to fit into it, especially when a smattering of two-star ratings on Goodreads still feels like a chorus of impartial strangers telling me that my soul just kind of sucks.

Am I alone in this? Why do so many authors talk about their books using 'I' and 'me' pronouns? 'I'm on the front table.' 'I'm in the window.' 'They stuck me in the back under A-Z – spine out!' So weird. And so understandable. It's wonderful to see your book on the tables and shelves of major bookstores. It's less wonderful not to see it, particularly when you know those copies been shipped back to the warehouse and pulped. But you have to be...sniff...whimper...sob...tough.Magicmirror

3) Stay away from the devil internet.

Do you waste a lot of time online now? Get published and see how long you'll be able to stay away from the old scrying glass. I wish I could reclaim the time I've spent typing my book's title into Google. I wish I'd never glanced at those heartless and Darwinian Amazon rankings. The internet's a big magic billboard where anyone can write anything, and it stays forever. It's all too easy to keep searching for news of your novel until your eyeballs turn into Styrofoam and you begin to fuse with the couch. Resist.

4) Don't get addicted to publicity.

Appearances, readings, interviews...all these are great, and unless you're a rock star of an author they won't eat into your writing time that much. Once again, it's the devil internet that's the problem. I love this website and I'm very proud of it. But I did start it so I could promote the book, and sometimes I tend to lose res-pb cinnamon toast and daleksight of that. And publishing an article online is...somewhat easier than publishing a novel, with rewards that are pretty much instantaneous – especially when you compare it to chipping away for weeks on a chapter you might end up cutting in the next draft. As it stands, I've clocked in over 40,000 words on this blog alone since September 2012. Add the content from the rest of the site and it's enough for a novel. Meanwhile, what's the word count on the new book, exactly? And what did I spend this morning working on instead of the next chapter? Hint: you're looking at it.

5) Guess what? You're still the same old you.

You're still going to be insecure, mopey, easily frustrated, everything that makes you the lovable, neurotic mess that you are, even without the lovable part. You're going to have bad days and it'll still be difficult to write. It would be nice if there was a magic solution for all this. But getting published sure isn't it.

And finally...

6) Don't go dropping the f-bomb during readings.
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Heh, heh. Oopsie! When I started out, I never hesitated to read exactly what was on the page, no matter who was in the audience. 'It's the 21rst century,' I thought, 'these words can't possibly have any shock value left.' Well, maybe they don't, but if even one person remembers your reading solely as the time somebody said 'fuck' in the tearoom, it's probably not worth it.

So, that's what I'd change. Or, hell, maybe I wouldn't change a thing. It's been a fantastic year and I'm still amazed that it happened at all. Happy birthday, Cinnamon Toast!

 

 

 

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"...astonishingly good....a juicy coming-of-age story...also an important read." The Globe and Mail

"...poignant...heart-wrenching. This stunning debut will surely appeal to both teenage readers and adults." Quill & Quire, starred review

"Witty, devastating, with a melancholy humour..." Sunday Business Post

"...page-turning, top drawer stuff..." BGE Book Club

"...warm, witty, heartfelt and utterly engaging..." The Irish News

"A stunning debut. I loved it." The Irish Examiner