You know when you're at a theme park and you're waiting in line for the biggest, scariest rollercoaster you've ever seen, and you're excited and scared and bored all at the same time?
Well, that's me. Every day since April the 24th last year.
That was the day I was told that my book would be published. Ever since then, I've been waiting for my book to be published. Not just in the daydream way of, "Oh, I hope one day to be a published and highly successful and fantastic author/boat owner," but actually published. It's all my birthdays and Christmases come at once. And they're making me wait for it.
And do you know what's worse? I don't know how much longer I have to wait. My birthday and Christmas tend to be fixed dates and so I can get all excited about the countdown with the "oh, it's so far away" and then suddenly the "oh, gosh, it's almost upon us, where's the curling ribbon, squeeee!" and other anticipatory things, but the publishing date keeps on jumping around. First I thought it was going to be in May, then January, then February, then April, then May again, and now back to April. Maybe.
It's my own fault. I've been picky and stubborn about the cover illustration (bloody authors and their opinions) and until it's done the publishers can't set a time with the printers, and thus the publication date cannot be fixed. Fair enough. Can't blame anyone else for that. And so I wait.
That's okay, though. That leaves me with lots of time to get the book trailer done and do lots of promotional stuff and rewrite the second book in the series and edit that other manuscript that's lying around and, hey, why don't I write a musical? Never done that before. It'll be fun! I shall, between getting a book contract and having said book published, be an unstoppable machine that charges from one project to the next, polishing them all off in record speed and still having time to make chutney on the weekends. YAAAAAAH!
Do you know what I've been doing?
6:00am Alarm goes off so I can get up and exercise, which is a great start to a productive day and will make me look pretty at the book launch. Alarm immediately gets turned off because I'm too tired from the night before, when I decided to watch six episodes of Friends instead of going to sleep, to get up this early.
7:00 Alarm goes off for the second time. Still too early. It gets turned off a second time.
7:30 Ian gets up, because he has to drive to work. I don't have to drive anywhere - my desk is two rooms away. Face-plant the pillow for a further 15 mins, trying to decide whether I'm awake or not.
7:45 Get up, mainly to show Ian that I'm up before he goes to work. Muck about with warm bread and tea in the kitchen.
8:00 Ian goes to work, and so do I. From 8 to 10:30 I shall work on the musical. A fun, creative start to the working day. Good. I might just check my Facebook pages first, though, to see if anything's going on there...
8:58 Nobody has commented on my posts since yesterday, and I have no new "likes" for either James's page or my page (whose numbers have been stuck at 79 and 77 respectively for over a month), but there's an interesting-sounding workshop about poetry and chronic illness in June that I... won't be going to because it's in York. Oh.
9:06 Decide to stop wallowing in depression at my pitiful attempts at promotion, and instead be awesome and write that musical.
9:09 Put the kettle back on, because writing musicals is difficult.
9:16 Decide that what I need is inspiration. Will look to the masters.
10:30 Number of songs from other people's musicals played/watched/listened to: 26. Number of songs written for own musical: 0.
10:31 Never mind. I get a half-hour break before I spring into editing my book Ashan. Might relax with a bit of wordsearch on my phone first.
11:52 Forgot to keep an eye on the time. No progress made on Ashan, but I got a top score of 79 seconds on wordsearch, so that's good.
11:53 Open word document. Find chapter I'm supposed to be working on. Stare at it stupidly.
11:57 No words written. Obviously need to get into creative mood. Play "Inventio 13" and "Hushabye Mountain" on the piano.
12:04 Still no words. It's a tricky plot problem. I might just play some innocent Spider Solitaire while I think about it.
12:44 I'm hungry. I'll just finish this important bit of work before I stop for lunch. Black six on black seven...
12:50 Make a toasted sandwich for lunch. God, this kitchen is a mess.
1:00 Okay, I have half an hour left of editing before I do some promotional work this afternoon. This is good. I'm now limited for time, which means I'm under pressure and will churn out a week's amount of work in ten seconds. Ready, set, g-
1:01 A knock at the door. Dive under desk rather than answer it, because I've just realised that I'm still in my pyjamas. I should probably have a shower sometime.
1:23 Right, I'm showered, dressed, and ready for anything! The reason that I haven't got any work done so far today is clearly because I was wearing pyjamas. Now I'm mentally and physically prepared, and shall have a very productive afternoon. Hang on, though - who was knocking at the door before?
1:25 There's a note in the mailbox that says there's a parcel to pick up at the post office. I should probably go get that. It's probably for Ian, and it would be a nice, wifely thing to go and get it for him.
1:38 And I should probably get something for dinner while I'm out. Also wifely.
2:06 Right. Parcel fetched. Groceries in the fridge. I've run out of time to do any more editing, but I've still got plenty of time to do promotional stuff for James, and that really is the important thing right now. James will go off like a bomb and make me millions if I promote him right. Goodie!
2:07 First thing to do is to check my email. There might be a message from my editor about a release date, or from the cover artist about the font for the blurb, or the bookshop guy about hosting me a fantastic, all-expenses-paid launch, and I'll have to answer it right away because I'm punctual and reliable like that.
2:08 No emails.
2:09 Okay, no emails. But there might be something on Facebook. Maybe I'll have had another ten "likes" for James's page, or mine.
2:11 No new messages. No new likes.
2:15 Try to think of something funny and engaging to post on either page, while fighting the thought that there's no point as no one will see it anyway and I'll only sell five books when (and if) it finally comes out and basically I'm a big, fat failure.
2:38 Decide to do something to cheer myself up. Watch Graham Norton clips all afternoon, and daydream about what I'm going to say when I'm invited on the show.
5:26 Ian calls to say he's coming home. Hurriedly clean the kitchen to prove that I'm not utter rubbish and have done nothing all day.
5:57 Ian gets home and asks me about my day. I say things like, "Oh, I'm having trouble with the Rahbin/Ashan relationship, it's been doing my head in. Look, a parcel came for you, and we're having tortellini for dinner."
6:00-midnight Rest of the evening spent in making dinner, drinking wine, reading books that somehow actually got published, and watching seven episodes of Friends.
I promise I'm not always like this. I promise I can achieve more than a TV marathon. In fact, I think (and I realise I'm jinxing myself here) that I'm turning a corner. I've been exercising regularly all week, I feel more alert, I edited a whole chapter of Ashan yesterday and have written an entire blog today. I haven't just been waiting. Go me.
But the last few months? They've been some of the most procrastinaty piles of rubbish I've lived through yet. There have been moments of proper activity and true excitement - writing blurbs, meetings with graphic designers, checking out book trailers, seeing the cover for the first time - but they've been wedged between whole weeks of no movement save for the frenetic typing of my password to check my empty inbox for the sixth time that day. And those exciting pockets have just encouraged me to get all excited and jittery and not work as well as I could.
Because, when you're waiting for the ride of your life, you're too excited and scared and bored to do anything else.