That was a lie.

What I said in my last post, I mean. Being sick does not keep you from worrying about your debut novel. I’ve been up the past two nights, up late with THOUGHTS. That post was a strong case of wishful thinking.

But that’s okay. I have a philosophy about that. (I don’t know if it’s obvious yet. I have a philosophy about most things. I pronounce them in confident declarations, and then when they’re proven wrong, I voice the revised version in the same fashion. That’s a disclaimer, btw: take everything I say with a grain of salt.)

Here’s the philosophy:

Being a debut author is a lot like starting a new school.

The weeks before the first day, you’re a jumble of thoughts and hopes and wishes and fears and insecurity – one day, you let yourself fantasize: you walk into your first class, and admirers flock to you, telling you how funny and pretty you are, like you’re the most awesome development in the school since personal-size pizzas in the cafeteria. The next day, you’re totally sure you’ll show up, and you’ll be wearing the wrong clothes, and you’ll be too much of a dork, and no one will talk to you, and you’ll have to eat lunch all by yourself.

During the annual school supply shopping spree, you pick out your pencil holders and Lisa Frank-knock off folders carefully – the same way a debut author shapes her promotional bookmarks and website copy with obsessive care. You take comfort in the friend(s) who will start at the new school with you – the same way a debut author feels a lot better when she remembers the reader(s) who already liked the book.

But despite all the terror and the excitement, when the first day actually rolls around, the reality is somewhere in between the two extremes of Everybody Loves Me and Everybody Hates Me.

You arrive on the first day of school. You are intimidated by the newness of everything. The learning curve is steep – but you manage to quickly memorize how to find the bathroom and the library. You introduce yourself to a lot of people. Some people don’t care. Maybe a couple are actually mean.

But some like you. They sit with you at the cafeteria/pick up your book. They become your friends/readers. Eventually, you find your place, and life goes on as before. School is school after all. Publishing is still publishing. You return to a routine of classes and homework and tests/drafting and revisions and blog posts.

(I also really love extended metaphors – have I mentioned that? I can’t use them much in my actual books, so metaphors invade this place instead.)

I guess what I’m trying to say is – yes, debuting is scary. And it’s scary primarily because I want the book to be liked. But the trick – at least, for me – is to keep it all in perspective – to remind myself that Of Giants and Ice‘s release is one moment in time, and the moment probably won’t be as earth-shattering as it seems beforehand.

But the whole process can be really cool. I’m ordering these chapter samplers to do a mailing, and my (new) editor sent me a PDF of the first chapters. Clicking through them, I saw all these new little embellishments that we didn’t see in the galley version. Like the vines on this one.

My heart was full of SQUEE. One step closer to the final book and all its prettiness – the moment when I hold a finished copy in my hands and think, I’m a really really real writer now.

In other news, I’m still a Sniffle-Monster. Still running fever every day, even with aspirin. It makes the revising kind of slow. BUT I have antibiotics in my system – and I should feel better soon.