Several people have asked how I spent September 15, which was the day the book was released. This is a posting I did that morning over at SheWrites.com, where I've been posting the Countdown to Publication blog. It offers a pretty clear picture of how I spent the 24 hours leading up to September 15. Photos of Monica and I at the computer store to follow shortly...
COUNTDOWN TO PUBLICATION: Ground Zero
If I hadn’t witnessed yesterday with my own eyes, I might not believe it happened. But it did, and I’m here to tell you the crazy story. I have to tell it in a fast first draft though, because the laptop I’m working on might not stay charged long enough for me to edit and post it. But I get ahead of myself.
Yesterday was a big marketing day, possibly even bigger than today. It was my last chance before release to let everyone on God’s earth and their grandma know that The Possibility of Everything is in stores today. I had about thirty tasks I’d left until the very last day. Postings, mass emails, personal emails, etcetera etcetera.
I woke up in the morning intending to start with posting to my Facebook friends, a list of more than 700 people I’ve carefully cultivated for the past year, but the system wouldn’t let me log on. What? I’d been on the site until midnight the night before, sending invitations to a public reception in L.A. this Sunday, inviting people to join the book’s Group page, posting a notice on my college alumni site. Did I do too self-promotion all at once? I seem to be doing way less than other authors I see on Facebook, but maybe I got nailed. Who knows? There’s no customer service number to call, no clear email address to appeal to for help. I sent a plea into the Facebook vortex, and received an automated response to the effect of “someone will review your appeal and get back to you.” Okay. In the meantime, no Facebook access. Well, I figured, as long as I’ve still got my email accounts, I’ll survive.
But then. At about 3 p.m., as I was working on my four-year-old laptop at a café, my battery warning light came on. This was puzzling, since the computer was plugged into the wall. I checked the charger connections. Everything looked fine. I tried another outlet. Same thing. I rushed the computer home to back up my hard drive files—because like everyone else I know, I don’t do this often enough and I’m about a month overdue—but the computer went into hibernation before I could finish.
I drove down to the computer store and pled my case. The nice guy with a nametag that said Om (I’m not kidding) diagnosed a bad battery and showed me how I could remove the battery and still use the computer plugged in to the wall. This worked fine in the store. It wasn’t a great solution, but it would work at least until I could get a new laptop. So I came home, ate dinner with the family, helped Eden with her second-grade homework, put both girls to bed. Then I tried to go back online.
Kaput again. No amount of fancy maneuvers from my high-tech husband could make it power up.
We took out my old laptop, the one where the power cord has to be plugged in just right for it to work. It was dead as well.
You know those moments when you feel like you’ve stepped into a zone beyond the beyond? This was one of them. It reminded me of Chapter Four in my book, where in spite of all our good intentions and efforts we keep missing our flights to Belize. What should half taken us a half day of travel instead took two. It was like one of those dreams where you’re trying to get somewhere important and keep tripping over your own feet. Or trying to dial a telephone and over and over again but keep skipping a digit or getting the number wrong.
At this point it was 9:30 p.m. and I was, literally, sitting on the couch sobbing. My husband had figured out a way to get my old laptop charged, but only if we kept it in a certain position on the kitchen table and didn’t move it an inch. It was better than nothing, but barely.
Then the phone rang. I told my husband that whoever it was, I wasn’t home, except it was my dear friend Monica. Monica Holloway, also an author with a book coming out this fall. She was calling to wish me good luck today and wasn’t expecting a slobbering mess to get on the line, but she rolled with that one quickly. And made me laugh. And told me that goddammit, she’s meeting me today at 10 a.m. at the Sony store in Woodland Hills and—I quote her here—we’re not leaving a f*&%ing man standing until I walk out of there with a functioning computer. And that then, yeah baby, we need to find someone to stir me something strong.
After we got off the phone, I borrowed my husband’s laptop and sent an email to twenty close friends, explaining the situation and asking them to be my presence on the internet today. This was a big stretch for me: it’s incredibly hard for me to ask for help. I’m the kind of person who always insists on doing everything myself. But the responses I’ve received have been instantaneous and beautiful, from the friends who assure me they’ll do whatever they can; to the ones who remind me that given the subject matter of the book, this is exactly how events need to unfold; to the ones who remind me Mercury is in retrograde and this makes appliances break down, so it’s not my fault.
It’s strange to have spent the last six months preparing for the release of this book only to have my hands tied on the very day itself, but maybe that’s the real message here. The book is the story of how I went from being a person without trust in anything or anyone other than myself to someone who learned to feel safe in the world again. So maybe for me, Release Day needs to be Release Control Day. I’ve done my work, and now the book has to go out there without me, born on the wings of my friends.
So what will I be doing on release day? Well, I’m going to post this quickly, before the computer dies again, and then brew a pot of coffee. I’m going to put away the laundry that's been sitting in the basket at the boot of my bed for a week. Then I'm going to put on my “Who says people in L.A. don’t read?” T-shirt and drive down to Best Buy with my AmEx card to meet Monica. Both of us will say a little prayer that my last advance check comes in soon so I can pay off the bill. Then I’ll pick up my kids from school and take Eden to her first ballet class. And I’ll keep reminding myself that the book, in stores today, belongs to everyone now and not just me.
There is much to be grateful for today. Books on the shelves, a publisher who backs it, a laptop that’s staying charged long enough for me to type all this to you, and extraordinary friends. And a cell phone on which my editor and publicist can reach me today, if necessary. Thank god my Blackberry is still working. For now.