Tiny Coconut

I have things.

Monday, October 18, 2004


I think it's ironically delightful that the twisted, tortuous rolls and bumps that characterize the brain's grey matter (where--among other things--thinking gets done) are called convolutions. Because so often that's the only word that can describe the thought processes of, at least, my literally and metaphorically convoluted mind.

To wit: Friday I get a phone call from the acquisitions editor at the publishing company where my bipolar disorder book is about to leap into life. He's calling on behalf of the magazine which is lending its name to this series, the magazine with whose editors I met in New York. You know, the people who basically promised me--heck, pleaded with me to do--the parenting book in the upcoming round of the series? Well, said acquisitions editor starts by joking around with me (I'd sent him a funny and very unprofessional email a few days earlier, trying to get him to commit to using me for the book so I could get started on it, and he wanted to let me know he had never in his career gotten an email quite like it...), moves on to extravagantly complimenting me and the impression I've left on everyone who worked with me on the project, but then says, in essence, that they can't have me write this book. Well, they can, actually, if I want to use a pseudonym--you know, like a romance novelist. And for the same reason, actually. Apparently, booksellers think that if you're able to pump out two books so quickly, and especially two books that require a certain level of expertise like these do, you're a hack, and they tend not to get enthusiastic about pushing your books any more. So, for the sake of the series, he says, I can't do this book.

I was totally, immediately sad. I really wanted to write a parenting book, and these are silver-platter deals, with no initial legwork necessary. So, yeah. Sad. Slightly depressed even.

But then he goes on to encourage me by saying that the publishers are interested in a completely separate parenting series, and if I have an idea for something a little new and different, I should run it by him and perhaps I could wind up not only writing a parenting book, but creating/writing/editing/who-knows-what a whole series. Wow. Now *that* is exciting. Especially since I actually DO have an idea for a parenting series, which I was trying hard, on the side, to squish into a single book proposal. Move over slight depression, here comes excitement and exhilaration.

Let me now fast-forward through my discussion with my agent (she wants me to do a short but well-thought-out proposal rather than just send an email saying "hey, do you think xyz would work for you guys?") and my discussion with Baroy about why I'm not optimistic that this will happen, and get straight to the real convolution here: The flat-on-my-ass, you'd-think-I'd-never-even-heard-of-antidepressants depression that hit me on Saturday, so hard that it took my friend Ambre approximately 30 seconds after seeing me to say, "What's wrong?"

And as I answered her--depressed about not getting the handed-to-me-on-a-silver-platter parenting book, not optimistic about the chances of getting a series, not looking forward to writing real proposals to write real books on my own terms--I realized that that's not what I'm depressed about. I couldn't for the life of me say what I was depressed about, but there was way more to it than that. It was more convoluted.

Yesterday I got a little bit of quiet time, and as I began to unwind, it hit me: I'm not depressed about not getting to do the parenting book. I'm depressed, as well as more than a little bit anxious, in advance, about not getting to do the parenting series. No, wait, it's more than that, actually. I'm not depressed and anxious about not getting to do the parenting series, I'm actually depressed and anxious about not being able to make enough money or get enough commitment on the parenting series to be able to quit my job and work from home and spend more time with my children and have the life that I thought was never going to be possible for me but became this vague, dream-like possibility when the editor mentioned the idea that I could actually originate a book series.

See what I mean about convoluted? He says book series. He says originate. I hear control. I hear long-term project. I hear enough money per year for me to quit my job and stay home for a couple of years working on the books and the series. I hear myself quitting my job, telling the kids, doing all the things I want to do with them. I hear "this is what you really want, but you haven't dared dream it's possible." I hear "it is possible. It is. Possible."

And then I hear "but only if you get this gig." And then I hear "and that means writing a killer proposal, and can you do that, with all of this pressure riding on it?" And then I hear "and why would some big publishing company give you--with your not-yet-two-book-titles-to-your-name--an entire series?" And then I hear "and even if they do, you won't be able to quit your job. You know you won't. You need the security. You need more money than you're making now. Forget about it." I hear "even if you get this, it's not going to deliver that dream life. The dream life doesn't exist for you. You don't get to have the dream life."

And so there I was, on Saturday, hating my life. Not the life I have. Not the life I will have if I get to write a parenting book or two or even ten. But the fantasy life that I had for about half an hour on Friday and which my pessimist self had completely destroyed by Saturday morning.

Twisted. Tortuous. Convoluted.

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