There has been nothing for me like the publishing of my first book. After years of writing for hire for all manner of perishable publications, to create something tangible and lasting is a thrill.
For a non-fiction writer, a career is a series of proposals pitched, re-thought, re-pitched. As much if not more time is spent selling your work than writing it. And all successful projects are printed or posted in the realm of the ephemeral, here for a quick read, and then zoom! sucked into the ever-devouring maw of time.
A book, though, has escape velocity. It is out there, irrevocable, in the open, on the shelf, embedded in the culture, for better or worse. It can’t be recanted or countermanded. (It will stand revision and expansion, if popular enough.) It is whole, entire of itself.
For someone to whom books mean everything, having one solid and substantial one bearing my name, sitting on my lap, is tremendously validating. Especially true since I am a college dropout who started out as a comic, then leapfrogged to journalism. Above all, to be accepted by an academic publishing house! (My eternal thanks to the University Press of Mississippi for seeing something worthwhile in my work.) It’s crazy. I still don’t believe it.
A book is also, in a sense, vengeance. To succeed is to throw it the faces of those who opposed or dismissed you over the years. It is an accomplishment that can never be denied. I can look at myself in the mirror and say, “I’m a writer.” Wow.
The book’s release date was April 22. It is starting to get out there to people, to potential reviewers. Now I must engage in the labor-intensive duty of promoting and selling the book.