But then, if you are lucky (if you have written a good book, yes, but more importantly, if various prize juries have taken notice of your book, for whatever reason), your book begins to take on a life of its own once it's published, and all of the struggle and angst just disappears.
This has happened to me over the past few months. Today, I found out The Chimps has been longlisted for the Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction. And last week, I found out it had made the shortlist for the BC National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction.
It is difficult to overemphasize how good these two nominations have made me feel. Partly because I 'd desperately hoped I would be so lucky with my first book (which I wasn't), and partly because I'd just sort of assumed I wouldn't be so lucky this time around (because I wasn't the first time around). How strange it is that our expectations are often so incongruent with reality.
I don't know whether I should laugh, or cry, or celebrate, or feel badly for all of my fellow writers who haven't made the cut this year but might well do with their next book, or the book after that. Well, ok, I do know what to do: I will celebrate. I will celebrate well, with frozen vodka and good cheese. But not without reminding myself this good feeling is transitory, just as the bad days and awful nights are, those nights when you can't sleep and you can't write and all you're doing is keeping your future wife awake with your tossing and your cursing.
Here's to the chimps of Fauna. From hereon in, everything is unexpected.
(photo credit: Toby, by Jo-Anne McArthur)