Tuesday, June 24, 2014

In Which an Author is Served Pie

There comes a time, as a newly published author, when you realize that you're really not "all that." It's a jarring moment. The viscous cloud of self-righteousness you have been prancing upon suddenly disintegrates and plummets you back to the realm of mere mortals. And you realize that you are, in fact, just human. And even if a publisher thought you were hot stuff, you're not exactly Salinger just yet.

For me, this happened in a library.

Yes, I was bursting with misplaced ego, my newly published book in hand and a satisfied grin on my face. "Oh, hello library patrons," my imperious eyebrow raises said. "There's a REAL writer in your midst."

I had come that day to donate my book to the library. The fact that the library wouldn't BUY my book after I myself had requested them to seemed irrelevant. It didn't even really bounce off my self-inflicted shield of presumptuousness, really, because I just figured that it had something to do with my publisher's distributor, and I would donate the first one for free. On the house. You're welcome.

I slapped my Fantasy novel onto the counter with verve (seriously, you could hear the confidence there), and then waited with a patient smile for the librarian to finish typing something into the outdated computer before her.

Wait, guys. This lady. Let me explain something to you here: The librarians in the Madison Library are cranky people. This is just a fact that we, the people of Rexburg, had simply come to accept. When we brought children, we would be shushed. If our books were late, the fee would be paid. With interest. No exceptions. They didn't want to hear about the death of your loved one or the spleen you had removed. And this one, of all the librarians, was the scariest. Because she looked nice. White curly hair, cute glasses on a beaded chain, dimples, a rosy, round face, and twinkling blue eyes. She was like Red Riding Hood's grandmother. She looked like she smelled like freshly baked cookies.

But when she looked up I could tell right off the bat she was kind of evil.

No matter. I was an author after all. She would still be impressed.

I slid the book across the counter toward her, and with a dignified smile said, "I would like to donate this book."

"Alright." She barely even looked at me. She just pulled up a window on her computer.

Dude, she didn't even look at the book! I nudged it a little closer to her. "I mean I want to donate this book."

"Uh huh. One second."

I blinked in confusion. "Actually it's my book."

This got me eye contact. Derisive eye contact. She finally spared the book a glance and then looked back at me. "Yours?"

Oh crap, wait, what was that stare? What is that? I had never seen that stare before. Every time I had told someone I had a book published it was all, "Really? Did you? Oh my gosh!" But this lady looked at me like I had a booger resting above my upper lip. I quickly explained, "Like, I'm an author. I just had it published. By a publisher. It's a book," I finished lamely.

Not even a glimmer of interest. "What's the title?"

My jaw almost dropped. I wanted to wave the book in her face and reiterate, "I WROTE THIS BOOK. Me. I wrote it. And it's published. WHY AREN'T YOU IMPRESSED?"

Instead I answered her question. She took down the book's information, and I even restated the fact that I was the author by saying, "Alyssa Auch. That's me because I wrote it." Like a five-year-old repeating themselves in case you didn't hear what they said the first ten times.

"We'll inspect the book to make sure it fits the parameters, and if it does, it'll be put into the system."

A little sweat gathered at the back of my neck. There was a screening process? "When will that be? How will I know?"

Her cold, dead eyes rolled over to me with an exasperated expression of apathy. "What?"

"Like, how will I know it passed?"

"It will show up in the system."

"What does it have to do to pass?"

"There's a lot of things. We have our cataloging employee take care of it."

"It has a publisher."

"I see that. We'll add it to the list, as I said. And it will then get cataloged."

"How long will THAT take?" I was getting agitated.

"I am not sure. A few weeks."

"WHA-" I cleared my throat and lowered my voice back to a whisper as a mother and child jerked their heads my way. "Weeks?"

"Ma'am there's a line behind you."

I looked back. Sure enough, several average humans were waiting behind the quickly deflating superior author. Me. That's me.

So I thanked her, watched her toss my precious, amazing book onto a pile of other random donated books, and walked to the door a slightly less confident, and kind of bewildered woman. In my head I had imagined an excited response, a string of questions about how I did it, and profuse adoration at my incredible feat.

Instead I received cranky grandma's humble pie.

At least now praise is a pleasant surprise. Better to know you are just a lucky person of average intelligence and receive unexpected praise than the opposite.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, yes, it did eventually get cataloged. See? People even read it, I hear.