NO, I’M NOT THE MAN IN SPANDEX – I’m talking about Captain Stupendous, the superhero in my book. Sheesh. Although I’m the one who’s exiting the blog, so I guess I am the man in spandex…? NO NO NO. No one wants that.
I was initially reluctant to join EMU’s Debuts, if you can believe that coming from an apparently rabid joiner-type person like me, but it’s true. “Oh no, what if it’s too much work, oh geez, I’m worried about stretching myself thin, oh man, I hear Jeannie Mobley has no shame when it comes to Photoshop…” I had all kinds of reasons to turn down Jeannie’s invitation. I’m so glad I put them aside and joined anyway.
Things have changed since the Original Eight EMUs launched this dog and pony show a couple of years ago, which was kind of the point, now that I think about it – we chronicled those changes as our books made the mysterious and sometimes nerve-racking voyage from publisher acquisition to honest-to-gosh marketplace availability, right? Expectations, challenges, roles, perceptions (internal and external), and insecurity triggers have all changed.
Have I changed as well? I suppose so. I’m not one of those admirable people who’ve spent the whole of their lives pursuing their biggest, boldest dreams – for years and years I seemed to lack whatever the requirements are for engaging in that kind of pursuit. Bravery, perhaps; confidence, probably; and discipline, most definitely. I’ve also grappled with that hoary old bugaboo known to so many of us, fear of failure. I guess it is a significant marker of change to say that I’ve learned to cope with those things well enough to start my career – I obviously wouldn’t have landed an agent and a book deal without working through those issues to at least some extent.
Stepping into a life of published authorhood has provoked other changes as well. The transition from aspiring author to no-longer-aspiring author has been eye-opening in some ways, if only because I’ve never been a genuine public figure before. It’s not that my movements are being tracked by paparazzi or anything, but it’s also true that I give more thought to my lunatic rantings before going public with them. It’s also true that I find myself in contact with all kinds of people who actually have no real pre-existing personal relationship with me – it’s rather startling to be approached by people who ONLY know me as an author. Does that change the way I interact with the world at large? Well sure, of course it does. Whether it changes it for better or worse is at least partly a matter of perspective, but it undoubtedly does change it.
I also changed in a way that’s entirely predictable in retrospect – sappy and melodramatic guy that I am, I grew attached to my fellow EMUs. These people are my friends, you know? We’ve shared a lot of experiences along the way, a noteworthy chunk of them at the EMLA retreat in July. They’ve had my back, and I’ve tried to reciprocate. Experiencing change is usually not easy, even when the changes are as exciting and longed-for as the ones I’ve been going through, but it’s definitely easier when you have comrades-in-literary-arms who are having similar experiences.
And now I’ve undergone the change which caps my tenure in the EMU’s Debuts blog community: I’ve debuted. My book is out there in the world. I’m a published author, babies. And this is one of those tricky statements to make publicly, because it clearly falls under the category of “problems I actually want to have,” but there are some teensy, tiny, bittersweet elements to this change. I’ll never have any of these experiences for the first time again, for example. Not exactly a dagger in the chest, but it is a genuine source of wistfulness. And I must leave the EMUs and make room for new arrivals like Josh McCune, whose Monday post clearly signals that the quality of the blogging around here will only get better.
I’m the last of the Original Eight to launch my book, which might be making me feel particularly drippy and sentimental, but by now that’s hardly a surprise to anyone reading this blog, right? It’s been a great two years, full of laughs, moral support, professional wisdom, and fun. This isn’t really the end of my relationship with the EMUs, of course – I’ll have emeritus status, I’ll certainly read and comment on posts from next-generation EMUs, and there are industry events and EMLA retreats to look forward to. Still, I’m having a big mush attack anyway. Thank you, my friends. It was an honor to be counted among your number, and being a part of this group has made the journey from deal to debut a little bit easier, a little more comprehensible, and a lot more meaningful.