We all know that I like to meander down metaphorical paths.
But not today.
Today I need your advice. I don't necessarily want it. But I need it.
Here is my dilemma. My rookie novel LIFE AFTER YES debuts in about five minutes weeks. And to say that I am a bit anxious about this impending event is a severe and silly understatement. But that is not the point of this post. I mention my paralyzing fear only to garner a pinch of sympathy. Onward.
So. My book's due date is May 18th. Soon. And less than two weeks later, I head to Yale for my tenth year college reunion. The close proximity of these two happenings was at one point a very happy coincidence. My publisher and publicist and I all agreed that this timing was fantastic to generate some added buzz for my book. Fine.
At one point, we had a book signing planned during graduation weekend at the Yale Bookstore. Yay! But then I decided that the last thing hungover thirty-somethings would want to do during the day on their college reunion weekend is traipse to a campus bookstore and sit in a folding chair and listen to a nervous blonde read. We canceled this signing. Fine.
Instead, we decided that I could host a little, super-casual cocktail party. I would invite classmates to come, sip champers, and chit chat about LIFE AFTER YES and life after Yale. Once upon a time, this seemed like a fabulous idea. But then. This idea soured on me too. I thought of myself standing there in some silly party outfit waiting for people to show up. Yuck. No dice.
So. The latest incarnation of my at-Yale quasi-publicity plan is to leave copies of my debut novel in the hotel rooms where I am staying. I would leave one book in each room as a little party favor. My lovely publicist has been in touch with the manager at this great hotel and he loves the idea. Yippee!!
But. I have been feeling a bit weird about this too. Truth be told, I am pretty much feeling weird about everything that concerns my book these days, so I didn't think much of it. I have chalked all of this (the broken sleep, the vivid dreams, the existential malaise) to generalized rookie anxiety.
But then. Last week Husband and I went out for dinner with a friend and her husband. We had a marvelous dinner. We talked about everything. About parenthood and professional ambivalence and identity in the Internet Age. We even talked about reunions. I told our friends about my terrific plan to gift books in hotel rooms during reunion weekend.
And my friend's husband said something. "Do you really want to do that?"
And I startled. And asked him why. And, ever diplomatically, he told me that people are nervous to return to their alma maters. That they invariably feel insecure and can't help but compare their lives, their paths, their successes to those of their classmates. He said that he wasn't sure he'd want to walk into his hotel room and see the published novel of a cohort.
As he said these things, I nodded. Because everything he said made perfect sense. Because, really, I want to return to Yale, the scene of some of the very best days of my life, and just have fun and see people who have slipped from the edges of my life. That weekend is not about me. Or my book.
Since that meal, I have made a point of asking several trusted friends what they think about my plan to give books away. And each and every one of these friends has told me the same thing: That this is a great and generous idea. That this is a clever and fun way to get my book in the hands of people who have a collegiate connection to me and might enjoy my story. But maybe they said this because they are my good friends?
I don't know. What I do know is that in my current not-so-cute state of pre-publication petrification, I'm not 100% sure I'm thinking straight. I know that I need to get a lot better about embracing the notion of self-promotion. I know that I need to be proud of my book (and I am) and do what I can to encourage people to read it. I know that scores of fellow Yalies have accomplished wildly wonderful things and I look forward to hearing about their sundry successes between sips of Pinot.
But I also know that I don't want to put off people whom I am genuinely eager to see and celebrate with after all these years.
I am well aware that I'm probably making a monster dilemma out of a tiny tactical decision. But here, in this gray moment, it doesn't feel this way. Here, in this gray moment, this somehow feels kind of important. And I want to get this right. Or at least not get it wrong. So help me. Pretty please.
Books for Bulldogs? What would you do in my position?
How have you felt returning to your schools for reunions? At your reunions, has there been a palpable sense of competition among classmates regarding achievements since graduation? How would you feel if you opened the door to your hotel room and a classmate's book was on your pillow?