Hysteria at the Halfway Point

debut novel panic 1I do best with plans at the horizon. I am utterly energized and enthusiastic about them. You should have seen me in the six months after I got my book deal. I wanted to research all of the possible conferences, book festivals, literary prizes, and reviewers. I did maybe mock up 30 designs for covers using stock photos. And I looked through probably 10,000 stock photos on the internet to make them. Because it was a two-book deal, I owed my editor an outline last year. I enthusiastically cranked it out and felt invincible .debut novel panic 2

But suddenly, the pub date is closing in on me. It seems like there’s nowhere’s near enough time. This week, my daughter is home sick with a cough and a fever. I’m sick as well (but no fever and I still need to teach). Every day it seems as if I’m slipping further behind schedule…debut novel panic 3

Now that the book is less than five months away (four and a half??!?) I feel a mild panic. I’ve lost the invincible feeling I have when these things are at a distance. These days, I feel totally overwhelmed and pretty much unequal to the task. But the thing about having a book coming out is that the book is coming whether I’m ready or not.

debut novel panic 4

It reminds me of being pregnant. I felt like I would never be ready. I felt like I needed another 9 months. I was sure it was going to be a disaster. But the baby couldn’t stay inside my body indefinitely. The baby, like the book, would be coming out. As an extrovert, I joined every moms group I could find. But debut novelist groups are much harder to track down. I am so grateful to my fellow Debs. They have provided a lifeline of perspective and sanity among the hysteria.

So this is my journey at the halfway point. Let’s review…

debut novel panic

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Aya de Leon directs the Poetry for the People program in the African American Studies Department at UC Berkeley. Her work has appeared in Essence Magazine, xojane, Ebony, Guernica, Writers Digest, Mutha Magazine, Movement Strategy Center, My Brown Baby, KQED Pop, Bitch Magazine, Racialicious, Fusion, and she has been a guest on HuffPostLive. She is the author of the children's picture book PUFFY: PEOPLE WHOSE HAIR DEFIES GRAVITY. Kensington Books will be publishing her debut feminist heist novel, UPTOWN THIEF, in 2016. For more info, go to ayadeleon.wordpress.com.