Monday, September 12, 2011

Book #55: My Book Delayed (& other things making me antsy...)

"It was October and Isabella felt like she should be going somewhere.  Fall always did that to her.  It made her restless, like she was late getting back to school; like she should be registering for classes, and buying pencils and notebooks and folders that matched."
                                                                                   -Jennifer Close, Girls in White Dresses

Over the past week, three people have asked me when they'll be receiving invitations to my book launch.  Sadly, I've had to tell them that it's now official: my book's publication is being delayed until the spring (February 2012).  I won't bore you with the reasons for the delay - suffice it to say that my publisher promises my memoir The Reading List: Literature, Love and Back Again will be out this spring, which she sees as a better time to have the book launch anyway.  I can't deny feeling a pang of disappointment when I first heard the news, followed by a whirlwind of anxiety (if publishing a book is a bit like giving birth, the thought of carrying this baby around for an extra few months is disconcerting, to say the least).  But now that I've gotten used to the idea of a spring launch, I'm feeling better and, to be perfectly honest, I'm awash with something strangely akin to relief.

Very few people have read my book yet (my agent, my publisher, my boyfriend and the sweet authors who wrote endorsement blurbs - thanks Emma, Kerri and Micah!) and I suspect that when my book is out in the world, I'll go through a period of feeling awkward around everyone, even those people who have no interest in reading, much less any interest in my book.  But knowing myself, that's how I'll probably feel.  So there's a part of me that relishes the idea of a few more months of mental peace, allowing me to just immerse myself in writing my next book.

In any case, I've been soothing my frazzled nerves by reading something on the lighter side.  I just finished Girls in White Dresses, Jennifer Close's delightful, humorous debut collection of linked stories.  It's hard to pinpoint what I liked so much about this book, but I have to say it captures a certain mood very well and allowed me to see versions of my earlier selves.  These stories focus on the interlocking lives of a group of friends who move to New York in their early twenties, after graduating from university, but instead of realizing their dreams, they embark on a decade of just kind of stumbling through life, mired in anxiety and self-doubts, while drowning in late-night martinis.  Isabella, the main character, is "surprised to find that she could do her job in a constantly hungover state," unsure whether to be grateful or to take it as a sign of being understimulated in her entry level position at a mailing list company.  Startled by her friend Mary's ability to come up with a "life plan" and apply to law school, Isabella takes the scenic route in searching for her dream job and dream guy - always feeling as if she's somehow falling behind, late at doing everything, like getting married and having kids, envying her friends who seem so much more on track.  But as the author skillfully reveals, these friends who seem on track are actually besieged by other pressures, the fissures all too visible in their seemingly perfect lives.

Ironically, when Isabella finally does come up with a life plan, and claws her way up in the publishing industry, she finds that industry unravelling at her feet.  And worse yet, her boyfriend Harrison - whom she worries she's been dating too long to end up with - is forced to take a job in Boston, presenting Isabella with the dilemma of whether to leave her beloved New York and go with him.  Life in this book is full of these kinks.  In the end, coming up with a "life plan" appears highly overrated; far better to just try to adapt to whatever unexpected turns life throws your way, and wash it down with something strong.  Which is what I'm trying to do (with varying degrees of success) by not over-stressing about my book delay....

Photo from: here 


Anonymous said...

Hello Leslie. I was touched by your story, and this post, and I look forward to reading your book next Spring. I am very interested in why many of us delay doing the very thing we really want to do; I too took a long time to realise that I should and could be writing if I wanted to, and I know how peculiarly hard it is to risk doing it.How fantastic that you are now getting your writing published. I will pop back and see how you are doing another day. Best Wishes to you. Louise

Naomi said...

It's great to have a firm date for the launch of your first book! I like your "baby" analogy and your focus on writing your next book. Best of luck!

Leslie Shimotakahara said...

Thanks for your encouragement & support!

As George Elliot once wrote, "It's never too late to be what you might have been."


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About Me

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Toronto, ON, Canada
Leslie Shimotakahara is a writer and recovering academic, who wanted to be simply a writer from before the time she could read. Hard-pressed to answer her parents’ question of how she would support herself as a writer, Leslie got drawn into the labyrinthine study of literature, completing her B.A. in Honours English from McGill in 2000, and her M.A. and Ph.D. in Modern American Literature from Brown in 2006. After graduation, she taught English at St. Francis Xavier University for two years. Leslie woke up one morning and realized that she’d had enough of the Ivory Tower. The fact that she wasn’t doing what she wanted to do with her life loomed over her, and the realization was startling. It was time to stop studying and passively observing life and do something real instead. She needed to discover herself and tell her own story. This blog and the book she has written under the same title (Variety Crossing Press, spring 2012) are her foray. Leslie's writing has been published in WRITE, TOK: Writing the New Toronto, Maple Tree Literary Supplement, and GENRE.