Saturday, January 06, 2007

The Long, Warm Winter

In my heart, I know this is all going to take some time. In my mind, I can rationalize the events into an acceptable order. But in between my heart and my mind is reality. I'm talking about everything: the publication of my book, my busy schedule teaching, and the weather, because innkeeping in Vermont demands some discussion about the weather. Let's start with the book.
We sold enough copies of Name the Boy to satisfy the pre-order goals. There should have been something celebratory surrounding that event, but instead I felt dirty. I'm still afflicted with that classic authorial dichotomy: I write books, I don't sell them. It's a silly mindset, of course. I've had to sell all my other writing over the years, from magazine articles to short stories. I just wrapped up a series of articles for the Stowe Reporter about the journey I've been on with the book. So why should I feel bad about having to roll up my sleeves and sell my own book?
I'm blaming my MFA. Coming off two years of high-minded study, rubbing elbows with successful authors, elevating my craft through countless hours of reading and writing and rewriting...It pulled me away from reality, from the part of the writing world where the rubber meets the road. The past six months have been a process of fitting my degree into my life, my reality. I think I'm almost there. Though I just received a terrifying email from my publisher saying he lost the artwork for the cover of the book, everything else is ready to go. Writing in the real world takes optimism and persistence. Writing for the theoretical world takes disembodiment and spirituality. And here the twain shall meet.
Into that I've added a busy teaching schedule. I'm teaching three days a week at the Mt. Mansfield Winter Academy. MMWA is where ski racers come to train and study during the winter. I have a variety of classes, including Science Fiction, American Lit, Creative Writing, and Shakespeare. Most of the students come with a class in progress, and it's my job to keep them up to speed while they race their mornings away. It partly frustrating, partly exhilirating, and good experience for my teaching muscles. I'll also be teaching at the Community College of Vermont this spring. It's a lot of work, but I'm looking forward to the experience for the same reasons just listed. By the spring I hope to have a better idea about the role teaching will play in my future. Part of my hopes it will be a big role, but I'm writer from start to finish.
Finally, there's the weather. It's fitting that I throw the weather over everything else, because that's what the weather's doing to us right now. For innkeepers in northern Vermont ski areas, it's been horrible. Business has been okay, but as I look out the window the rain's pounding the white into mud. Like my experience with the book publisher or some of the frustrations I've encountered teaching, I have to take the long view. I'm lucky we don't live hand to mouth, that we have a plan. We'll make it through the worst of what nature throws our way by taking the long view. And when the book's finally published (sometime this month, I'm told), you'll be the first--or second, I should say--to know.