Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Rainbow

Their identities have been revealed to me slowly. First, names on the press release from Random House. Then, grey and wispy titles on the chapter headings when the galleys for my essay came in. Now, the bound galley proofs are in my hands, and I have the biographies of my fellow authors, which was by far the most difficult part for me ("This wench was published already! With a publicity tour!"). It's like looking at a sonogram; the titles are blurry, there are no page numbers on the table of contents, and the cover is a dorktastic repeating pattern of the Random House logo rather than what the actual cover will look like. (Current Amazon rank: 708,454, down just a tic from yesterday's 689,262. AWESOME.)

I read each chapter with one fingernail in the "About The Authors" section, flipping from my essay to their essay to their bio to my bio and then to my essay again. I did this for hours. I've been terrified for months and months, ever since I found out there would be twenty-eight other authors, that every single one of them would be untouchably awesome and that they would all be the same age as my students. Then, of course, there would be nothing for it but a nice warm bath for me and the toaster, for, as we all know, no one is allowed to ding the literary success bell before the Princess Insecurity does.

I read the whole book, all 290 pages, while the next MSNBC.com article went unwritten and the eggs overboiled on the stove. I read when I should have been attending to my lower abdominal fat and I read while Katherine sang, (Who. Designed. That dress? Whoever's responsible for it was clearly listening to her jank-side "single" as mood music. "What does this say to me? Hmmmmm, let's pull the color from some moldy drapes... make her hips look like they could pass quadruplets shoulder to shoulder... annnnnd.... a RUFFLE. There!") more as a studied diss to Katherine than anything else. I had to find out, you see, whether or not I am a good writer. I would discern this in the most healthy fashion available: By comparing myself to every single other author tapped by Random House's sparkly non-royalty-paying wand. Is he going to get a book deal? Will The Atlantic Monthy offer a column to her? What if I never figure out how to fold a bedsheet properly so that it doesn't wind up a sad pathetic ball of cotton and elastic? I won't ever pay the rent as a writer, will I? This person will get the call from Oprah, not me, and I'll be grading term papers entitled "I Like Breathing" forever and ever, world without end amen.

"The Waltz" holds its own. It's not the best essay in the book. It's also not, God willing, the worst. It's definitely the only one to reference psoriasis, though, so I've got that going for me.

If you want to know what happens next, read the book! Not for me-- you've had enough of me, I imagine--but for the others. Their words are quite remarkable.

check me out, i'm in a BOOK!!!! at: mb@blondechampagne.com


red pill junkie said...

Please Please PLEASE!!!

Will you stop comparing yourself with other writers? It doesn't do you any good. TRUST ME.

If you want to make comparisons. If you want to beat someone up, try to be a better writer than MB was 4 years ago.

I understand that feeling only too well. I cringed and wanted to throw myself out of a window when I discovered that a guy who attended college with me is now the ultra-hot, renown, world-famous, I've-already-showed-my-stuff-at-galleries-in-New-York designer I aspire to become, and he's 2 years younger than me!!! Another guy that studied with me? He worked with Rem Koolhas (one of the fat cows in the architecture world) and has commisions all over the world, while me? I'm still at the same old job I've had for almost 6 years, with my flashy diploma from one of the best universities in Mexico, I'm barely making just a little more income than a truck driver does in the US, maybe even less (no offense here). And remember, we don't even have a bathroom at the office!!

Trust me young padawan. That path leads only to the dark side. But you already know that, don't you?

I think I speak for everyone who has spent a just few minutes checking your blog, when I say that you are a very talented writer, and maybe you haven't had a lightning-fast ascension like some other people, but more important that climbing to the summit of the mountain, is how long you get to spend there.

And the more it cost you to reach that peak, the more beautiful and heartbreaking you'll find the view.

And that's that

ShannJ said...

Congratulations!!! You're in a book! That's so awesome! Quit worrying so much. I've read lots of your stuff over the past 15 years, (Oh. My. God. We're OLD!) and all of it has been wonderfully entertaining. You never cease to amuse me. Love ya girl!

amy lou the reader said...

I agree with rpj. It's very difficult not to compare oneself to others in one's field - be it writing, art, music, administration, teaching, whatever.

I'm so happy you're in a book. It's really awesome. And I will definitely buy the book when our bank account has more than $.001 in it. :)

Dantelope said...

I like when she compares. It's part of her allure. The whole self-deprecating bit. It just works.

Nobody should tell her that she should only be comparing herself to her mind's idealistic view of the future such that she is driven to produce the best she can produce since this would, in fact, create volumes of books, TV shows, and movies which I would purchase and even dial a special Cingular number to vote for her on American TeacherBloggerWhoReallyNeverGotHerGymnastCareerOffTheGround on Fox. Oh and let's not forget the award shows... the red carpet... that moment in history when she actually goes on national TV with toilet paper hanging out the back of her beautiful dress....

Damn this makes for good entertainment. And that's the real beauty of it all.

Anonymous said...

If you want to feel better:

Having been told all of my life that I should become a professional writer, I took the coward's way out and went to law school. As I sit here at my lawyer's desk pushing papers around, the thought of someone my age being published AT ALL makes me green with envy and blue with visions of what might have been. You should remember how much you have sacrificed to get this far and enjoy it for those of us who were too scared (and possibly lazy) to go for it and who are now living somewhat vicariously through your achievement. Big congrats - and if not the best essay in the bunch, you know it will be the one that makes the most people laugh.

red pill junkie said...

I know it's part of human nature to make comparisons. It's healthy when it drives you to make a better effort the next time, but it's unhealthy when you become obsessed with only the end benefits you are getting in contrast to others. It can lead to depression and even suicidal tendencies (trust me on this one)

This society is forcing us more and more with images of media-revered, early achievers to believe that if you haven't "made it" by the time you reach 30, you are a major loser. I'm in total opposition with this.

To use a phrase from a very under-appreciated film:

"Winners forget they are in a race. They just love to run"

Anonymous said...

Thanks guys :) Some great wisdom here.

And anon... it's not too late, you know. I was the youngest member of my MFA graduating class by a couple DECADES. One of my classmates was in her late 70's. There are many, many low-residency options out there. But you don't have to have a degree, or be a certain age, to get published at all.

Promise me you'll at least think about what I just typed here.

racheal said...

Reading Rainbow -- ha ha, that's great!! You crack me up.

Seriously, congratulations on the book (insert pat on the back here)!

Can you tell me how to buy it through you? In details, perhaps how you would tell a toddler....I want to make sure you get whatever little bit of $$ you can from me buying through you and if I try it without asking, I will probably mess it up and you will end up owing Random House money.

Anonymous said...

racheal, how cute are you?! Thank you so much for wanting to buy the book. I'm so excited.

Click on the picture of the book at the top of the page. That will take you to Amazon.com. On the page that comes up, there will be a yellow button to the right hand side reading "Pre-Order This Item." Clicking here will take you to another page with a "proceed to checkout" button on the upper right hand side. Click there. Then Amazon will ask you to create an account and to fill in your address and credit card number or or whatever. The book will be shipped to you on the day it releases.

Dantelope said...


but how do I get a signed copy?

Anonymous said...

Oh. Well THAT requires a great deal of free alcohol.

Jenib said...

Even in the middle of moving to another state and living in a third world model of the "no tell, motel" on a military installation, I will brave dial up to read your blog.

Anywho-Martha Stewart has a great section on how to fold sheet sets so they come out perfect and easy to stack. I would post the link here for you but I am on dial up and it is a P.I.T.A. and I don't feel like waiting five gazillion hours for the page to load.

Red Pill Junkie: Wow. I am going to print those last two sentecnes out and put it on my laptop screen. Not only does it inspire me to keep on trucking with the education, it will help defray the pain I feel when I get my student loan statements...thanks! (thumbs up)

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