So, a strange thing has been happening at work lately. A very small frenzy seems to have started up about my books. Now, last year, a few of my coworkers expressed interest in reading Soulless and Bowlful of Bunnies, and so I got them copies, and that was kind of that for a while.
My part-time is working as a barista in a coffee shop in a local grocery store chain (Chicagoan, guess which one!), and my boyfriend works in the deli, and we’re on the smaller side for this chain, so there’s a lot of chit-chat and friendly relations between the departments, especially in the area with the cafe/hot foods/deli sections. A lot of the basic, “So what’re your plans for the weekend? What are you going to do on your day off?” With Heartless“s release right around the corner, my reply has been a slightly timid chirp of, “I’ll be working! My book’s coming out in August, so I have a lot of work to do.”
So one them decides to buy Soulless, especially since the next book coming out and she wants to start a new series to read. And then someone in the cheese department checks it out because he’s always asking me about it. And now I have to try to remember to bring in three copies on Monday because of requests, I have someone talking about how much they enjoyed it to everyone else, someone saying everyone should check it out because it’s good even though I have “a real sick mind” (lol), even someone saying I better not die before I get the third book out or else they’ll be really mad.
And I’m all, “Holy crap, where did this come from?” It’s freaking awesome, and it just makes my little heart go pitter-patter thinking people are actually enjoying the books and wanting more, but it’s just so weird. Good weird. But definitely weird. These are people I see a few times a week in a capacity that has nothing to do with my writing and everything to do with paying my bills, their coworkers, colleagues, and, in a few cases, superiors, but they’re also fans. Fans that I know on a face-to-face basis, fans I know by their first names, fans who see me regularly to remind me that I better get working on producing more stuff.
Mind. Blown. When I watched the latest season of Orange is the New Black a few weeks ago, I remember chuckling a little wistfully at Crazy Eyes’s stories going around the prison and how surreal and strange and terrifying and awesome that might feel, and now it’s almost as if something similar is actually happening. It can be really overwhelming, too, as flattering and encouraging as it is, because as much as I inwardly love the attention, I still feel a little embarrassed and shy, which I worry comes off as rude or pompous, which might alienate the very people who might be essential to my success. I also wonder if it’s a little weird for them, too, like, if they do enjoy my work, then they’re all, “It’s weird that this person has written something I like so much” because most readers don’t personally know the authors they like. Or if they don’t like it and they don’t want to hurt my feelings! I’m sure there’s a little of that, too. It just reminds me of what my ex-roommate’s dad said after BoB was released, “It’s just weird thinking that you wrote it, you know?”
I know some writers like to completely separate their writerly lives from their personal lives, but writing has always been such an integral part of who I am that I could never manage that. It’s also weird when you’ve been striving for something for so long, and, all of a sudden, your hard work is getting some traction and it’s not just all putting things out there with no response. It’s actually putting things out there and going somewhere, which is thrilling and exciting and daunting and amazing.
So, in conclusion, excuse me for a moment while I hide over there and make small excited squealing noises and wring my hands a lot.
Anyone else experienced anything like this before? How did you manage to overcome the anxiety that goes along with it, if you had any? How do you go from having no success to suddenly embracing success (even if it’s just a little success) without it driving you crazy?