Discover more from Katherine Howe’s Substack
One week until on sale, and so many things left undone.
I put on lipstick, and then the Guardian called.
“It’s only a few days until publication day!” the reporter said over Zoom from her sunny desk in London. “How are you feeling?”
“Honestly,” I said. “This time feels like the great Undoing. Like all I can think of are the things I’ve left undone.” I was grateful she couldn’t see my desk, littered with empty coffee mugs and cereal bowls and boxes of Kleenex and a huge pile of coupons from CVS that I am almost certainly not going to use before they expire.
She laughed. “What are some of the things you’ve left undone?” she asked.
“Oh, you know.” I said. “Write half a dozen pitches for my publicist that I was probably supposed to do six months ago. Write a better book.”
(Here is the UK edition of A TRUE ACCOUNT, together with a mostly accurate press release and an early 19th Century speaking tube I happened to have lying around.)
Anticipation, and a kind of loss.
I’m not sure if other writers experience this, but in the days immediately leading up to a new book release I spend a lot of time policing my own feelings. I should be excited! Come on, be excited! It’s exciting! And I am excited. In a way.
I am also afraid. Will people like it? Will it disappear? Could I have made it better? But how?
The answer to those questions is “some of them,” “quite possibly,” “yes,” and “nobody knows.” But so far, in my writing life, it’s safe to say that any given book, when it finally arrives in the hands of strangers, is about 30% as good as I imagined it could be when it lived only as an idea in my mind.
It is dangerous to love a thing and let it go completely. To kiss it on the forehead and say, go, thing I have made. Go, and be judged. I will always love you.
In eight days I will do just that to A TRUE ACCOUNT: HANNAH MASURY’S SOJOURN AMONGST THE PYRATES, WRITTEN BY HERSELF.
The list of things still undone.
What’s still to do? Finish this listicle of pirate books for CrimeReads. Do an article for Writer’s Digest on writing authentic historical dialogue. Do something called United by Pop that I was probably supposed to do weeks ago. Urge RSVP’s for book release events. Obtain wine for book release events. Drop off dry cleaning ahead of book release events. Worry about book release events. Scan job listings for writing jobs in a sudden panic that career is about to end. And those are just the ones I can remember. Oh yeah. Do another Substack.
(I’m one of those people who likes to put items on lists that I have already accomplished, just so I can cross them out immediately. It’s very healthy.)
So what’s next?
Eight days until A TRUE ACCOUNT goes on sale. On Friday I’m off to Cincinnati for Books by the Banks, and then we’re having a shindig at Harvard Bookstore in Cambridge to celebrate the official release date on Tuesday 11/21, with my friend Kevin Birmingham, who I used to regularly beat at poker. I’ll also be popping by Marblehead, Houston, Murrell’s Inlet SC, and San Diego. In early December, I will have an interview with BBC Radio 2 at five in the morning my time. Things to do. Things yet to be done. Only one week to go.