Welcome to GIBBIN HOUSE!

When I first started this blog about the misadventures of a nascent author, I had only a small novel under my belt, titled Gibbin House. The building that bears the name is a fictitious postwar era safe-house, as many might have existed, and the London home of my motley crew of exiles. I could not anticipate then the degree to which I would join its ranks of writers and artists, but since publishing my book in 2011, I have had the greatest privilege of opening my own art gallery and of exploring my love of the written word through visual poetry and paper sculptures. Yet much like the girl who first started blogging two years ago, I suspect I don't know what I'm doing half the time. As such, Gibbin House remains a refuge for ramblings...and on occasion a haven for little triumphs.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Tribulations of a Self-Published Author: Day 28

The 'Launch' Hangover - Now What?...

When you first begin writing those early chapters of what you imagine will be an unforgettable piece of literary fiction - over which agents in Hollywood will eventually sell their second-borns to option a version starring Audrey Tatou - how many of you can't help picturing that oh-so sacred moment?  You know, when the ribbon is finally cut, the foam boards mounted, the queue formed in honor of your amazing accomplishment?  I'm speaking, of course, of the 'Launch'. 

The Launch.  You build it up in your mind as you muddle through late night revisions.  You picture Bridget Jones charmingly mispronouncing your name as she taps the piercing microphone.  Or Tom Hanks scraping all the caviar off your hors d'oeuvres plate (because naturally, your publisher has pulled out all the stops).  You piece together ensembles...will you go for the 1950s Harper Lee car-coat look?  Or perhaps something more sophisticated - Sophia Loren in a black turtleneck and tweed, a la 'Cassandra Crossing' circa 1976? 

Perhaps you don't fantasize at all.  JK Rowling's success never enters your thoughts.  You're all about the work.  You're Norman Mailer.  Henry Miller.  A slightly more gregarious David Foster Wallace.  Your table is strewn with crumbled up yellow legal paper and spilled bottles of scotch.  Your mattress is crawling with bed bugs, or in any case, really really itchy.  Maybe you haven't wondered what it would be like, to stand there in your best party dress, the publishing world's sardonic gaze upon you, thinking...damn, I've made it!

Well, I have clearly thought about it many times, have run the whole process over in my head, the day I'd find out it was all really happening, and the day the advance would come in.  I'd cry at the sight of my books lining a B&N shelf.  I'd phone into talk shows, and ride on a book tour, through towns inhabited by envious ex-boyfriends, who'd grit their teeth as I inscrutably signed their copies 'Best of luck."

Except that I'm obviously not currently on a book tour, or torturing past paramours, as far as I can tell.  Because, as it happens, I didn't get 'published' after all. 

That is, after nine years of working in the shadows, I decided to omit the soul-crushing search for an agent, and instead published my opus myself.  It didn't immediately occur to me that taking such a step was the equivalent to throwing an eraser against the proverbial blackboard (I still feel the chalk dust settling upon my sandalled toes.)  In other words, no one was going to 'handle' me...I was setting out on this all on my own...and the Manhattan book store launch, well...

Alright, so it's been quite fantastic so far, not nearly as dismal as I feared.  My friends and family, in particular, have been exceedingly supportive.  As it turns out, people are astonishingly anxious to be given a reason to praise you.  It's all rather affirming, and I have to say that when the day of my Launch came at long last, I felt more loved than ever could have imagined.

And I think I did it all pretty well.  I was coifed and manicured.  I wore a blue and navy pleated vintage style cocktail dress with heels that would have made Betty Page proud.  The launch took place inside my family's new gallery on opening night.  We had press coverage and sponsorships.  I had my foam board poster at the ready, sold most of my inventory, and to my knowledge only mispelled one name (for which I am mortified and blame the seventh pomegranate martini.) 

But now it's a week later, and I'm forced to take stock of my progress: 

Launch, check. 

Support of friends and family, check.

Amazon store, check.

Self-indulgent blog and other cross-pollenating social media forums, check.

My face plastered in high-res jpegs across Miami's society pages, oh yeah, check.

New York Times Best seller list and Audrey Tatou in the title role of Anka Pietraru, the Romanian mute chased into exile in postwar Europe, er, still a ways to go...

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