New YorkóItís that time. The official pub date for Summer Sisters is tomorrow. Iím alternately thrilled and terrified - despondent and exhilarated. I go from thinking this is the worst book ever written to...I really like this book. I wonder how I did it?
I promise myself I wonít become obsessed by reviews. What are reviews anyway? One personís opinion, right? And reviewers have their own agendas. Everyone knows that. So I wonít read the bad ones more than once. Maybe twice. Iíll focus on the good ones - if there are any good ones. Okay. Forget reviews.
What really matters is what my readers think. Will the book find its audience? Itís out of my hands now. Have I done my best? Two years - or was it three? - twenty drafts, at least. Still, if I hid it in the bottom drawer of my desk for a year... Forget that. Itís already in the stores.
Okay, Iíll just browse through a finished copy one last time. I have to be ready to talk about the characters,the story, the themes. Iíd rather talk about anything else. I really donít want to talk about themes. I especially hate themes. I never know what the themes are. My son tells me Iím the least analytical person he knows. But Iím emotional. Does that count?
Iíll stop sniffing the book...I promise! Books donít smell the same anymore. Have you noticed? It must have something to do with the printerís ink. Do they still use printerís ink? Iíll ask George. He knows everything. When I was a kid I sat on the floor in the public library in Elizabeth, N.J. sniffing all the books. I sniff my food before I taste it, too. My grown kids find this weird. I donít know why.
What about the hype? I feel about hype the way I feel about themes. Only worse. Twenty years ago, when Wifey was published, I embarked on a sixteen city Book Tour. I thought it was exciting. I felt so...glamorous? At least for the first week.
By 1986 and umpteen book tours I decided that was it. No more. I wanted my life back. I needed the time to write. I was happy at home. Iíd outgrown my wanderlust. So how come Iím about to do it all over again?
Because I want to meet my readers, some of whom have grown up on my books. I have a lot to thank them for. Theyíve been such a loyal, supportive group. They keep me going when the going gets tough.
But will I have the necessary stamina? Will I catch the stomach flu like the time a child stood very close and said, "Sign for my brother, heís home throwing up." Will I crumple if a talk show host gives me a hard time? Will the censors be out there waiting?
How come I still get so anxious about all this? Youíd think by now Iíd have learned...
Even worse, suppose no one shows at the book stores? I remember my first book signing, in Scotch Plains, N.J. in the fall of 1969. It was for The One in the Middle is the Green Kangaroo. And only my mother showed up, with my kids and a few of their friends. I sat there for a couple of hours next to a stack of books hoping, praying, someone I wasnít related to would walk through that door. But no one did. When it was time to leave the owner of the store gave me a gift. I think it was her first signing too. We were both so embarrassed. I wonder if she still has that little bookstore?