Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Chanel No. Continued...

By Cornelia

Part the Second: In Which, Lo and Behold, The FREAKISHLY, TERRIFYINGLY, JUST- CLOSE-YOUR- EYES- AND- THINK- OF- ENGLAND SCATHINGLY, HEART-STOPPINGLY *SCARY* but yet STILL (O!- Lifetime- of- Nightly- First- Star- and- Annual- Birthday- Candle- Wishes- Laid- Yearningly- at- the- Altar- of- Fervent- Aspiring- Author- Hopes- Coming- True- at- Long- Sweet- Last {Hosanna Hosannadanna!}) BIG HUGE FAT SPLENDID DAY OF MY PUB DATE--BARRING CATASTROPHE--Approacheth (T minus 114 hours, ballpark, and counting)

Monday, May Eighth, is a day I have been dreaming of for a very very very long time. It is the official publication date of my first novel, A Field of Darkness.

The pub dates we imagine before getting published are, I think, akin to the view of government which P.J. O’Rourke once attributed to the Democratic party--to wit, the belief that “government will make you smarter, taller, richer, and remove the crabgrass on your lawn.”

I’ve heard from a number of writing compatriots that the actuality can be far closer to O’Rourke’s take on Republicans, “the party that says government doesn't work and then they get elected and prove it.”

I have often said that the road to publication, for me, has been so unbelievably unbelievable (in a great way) that I keep thinking someone’s put acid in my coffee. Luckily, it’s really good acid. Like, OWSLEY good.

But despite the fantastically amazing luck I have had with the process so far, and the astonishingly kind response the book has gotten so far, there is still a lot of crabgrass in my mental lawn. I don’t think I deserve it, for one thing, and the swings from catbird-seat high to hanging-over-the-abyss-by-my-last-toenail low never go away.

The best thing about getting to know the greater community of writers is that I’ve found I’m not alone, when it comes to that elation-to-terror pendulum. It's part of our makeup. We all have moments when we are CONVINCED everything good is either a fluke or a cruel ruse. That the other shoe is about to drop, and that it weighs more than one of those cartoon bank vaults suspended above the head of Wile E. Coyote as he trots, blithely oblivious to peril, down a cartoon desert highway.

Here is a snapshot of some things that have happened to me, over the last seven days or so, and my psychotropic hi-jinx in the wake of each:

1. An actor/director whom I greatly admire emails my publicist at Hachette Book Group to say he’s interested in optioning Field, “or talking to Cornelia about an original screenplay, should that already have occurred.”

Psychotropic Hi-Jinx: I am elated for about thirty seconds. I call my husband at work. I leave a voicemail for my mother. I then suddenly decide it must in reality be a joke email from some ex-boyfriend MASQUERADING as said much-admired actor/director. Probably the one who gave me crabs.

2. My agent emails to say he’s just read an advance copy of this Sunday’s New York Times Book Review, and that it appears to contain a third-of-a-page ad for Field. In COLOR, for God’s sake. He says this almost gave him a heart attack, since no one had told him to expect it.

PJH: I have actual heart attack. Look up ad rate card for NYTBR. Conclude ad costs more than advance for book. Lie on hardwood floor, hyperventilating, convinced that when not a single copy of book is EVER purchased, publisher will grow embittered and cut me loose, so that I will have to take up residence among a pack of ravening ferrets, in whose company I will become the world’s worst real estate agent in order to eke out a living.

3. Joshilyn Jackson, scathingly brilliant author of gods in Alabama, gives me a glowing writeup on her blog, in thanks for my having stepped in as her last-minute-substitute haiku-contest judge. Among other impossibly funny and kind things, she says, “OOOOH CORNELIA! YOUR BREASTS ARE LIKE WHITE GOATS ON THE HILLSIDE AND YOUR VIRTUE SINGES THE EYES OF THE UNHOLY.”

PJH: Examine real-life appalling boobulage in mirror. Front view… side view… Decide rack bears far closer resemblance to “hills like white elephants,” if not twinned Kilimanjaros. Consider full-frontal cosmetic surgery. Wonder if such is obtainable before first scheduled signing, Wednesday May 10th at M is for Mystery in San Mateo, California (7 p.m.). Wonder if emergency de-boobification doctor would accept IOU. Or perhaps signed copy of book. Fret over atrociously ugly and utterly illegible signature. Take oath to invent new handwriting style for self before Wednesday. Not that anyone will buy so much as a single copy of book at signing, obviously.

4. Great friend Andi Shechter emails part of current Mystery News review of Field she has typed up, since I have not yet received a copy. Review apparently closes with “I have seen the future of the crime novel, and her name is Cornelia Read.”

PJH: Weep. Perform Snoopy Dance around laundry-crowded living room. Weep. Experience panic attack over hideous stinking pile of unreadable crap which is manuscript of follow-up novel. Call husband at work, weeping. Rend garments with hand not holding phone. Husband sighs, no stranger to this. Weep more. Wail about impending June 1st deadline for hideous pile of stinking crap. Ask husband whether he thinks I can get Opal Mehta to ghostwrite it. Wonder to self if she’ll take an IOU. Harvard is expensive. Hang up phone. Call sister. Weep.

5. David Thayer posts interview with self on his splendid blog.

PJH: Write him thank-you email, weeping. Re-read interview. Decide I sound like odious windbag. Weep. Return to hardwood floor for hyperventilation purposes, clutching freshly printed pages of first half of the stinking pile of unreadable Work in Progress, as printer broke mid-way through job and ate second half. Consult Hollywood Tarot, online. Get impending-doom Pee-Wee Herman card, “The Fall.” Weep. Try again. Get Sean Connery card. Feel slightly better.

6. Start writing blog post for Naked Authors. Can’t wait for Monday… crabgrass and all.


  1. Ah, yes. The "I'm God," "I'm wormshit" cycle.

    Just keep breathing and you'll be fine.

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  3. May 8th IS National Cornelia Day

  4. Oh, Stephen, you NAILED IT!!! I will try to remember about the breathing part. New mantra: I am the God of Wormshit, I am the Wormshit of God. BLEND! BLEND! SHOOT FOR SANITY!

  5. And ANY day without Mark Farley is like a day without sunshine.

  6. Holy cow! Your post is longer than my last novel :o)

    Seriously...congrats, Cornelia. Pace yourself. There's more to come.

  7. You crack me up, you really remind me of Dennis Miller when he's on top of his game.

    And, you're wonderful, Field is amazing, you're gonna wow 'em on tour.....

    It's all good. May 8th is gonna rock.


  8. Rae, you are going to make me all WEEPY again! I'm sitting here trying to breathe, and everything!!!!

    Thank you!!!!!

  9. Damn, I had a day like that yesterday, but I could only chalk it up to hormones. And the fact that my editor wrote a MISTAKE into my weekly newpaper profile. He apologized gracefully, then told me that if I had made the mistake, I would have been fired. He was kidding. I think.

    Hurrah, May 8! Try to relax and enjoy it. Keep breathing deeply.

  10. Hey there, Edgy!

    My Uncle Hunt lives near you, out in Brasstown (home of the New Year's Eve "Possum Drop").

    I had an editor once who did that EVERY week, out in Boulder. Made me crazy, since I still really can't use any of the articles for clips.

    Hope all goes great for you!

  11. Oh, Cornelia - I am way behind on my blog reading, but oh, so happy for you.
    So, now, instead of staying up all night to finish the ARC of your book, I'll have to camp out in front of the movie theater to get tickets...
    You ask way too much of your fans.

  12. Oh, Cornelia - I am way behind on my blog reading, but oh, so happy for you.
    So, now, instead of staying up all night to finish the ARC of your book, I'll have to camp out in front of the movie theater to get tickets...
    You ask way too much of your fans.

  13. Heidi, my Heidi! Should it ever come to that, I'll camp out WITH you. And bring the marshmallows for the bonfire.