The Road Thus Far: Champagne Problems

I haven’t blogged in a while, and I’m doing it now because a) I am trapped inside by a post apocalyptic snowstorm, and b) I have a novel I should be writing but am stuck on.

So it has now been eight months since I signed my book deal for my debut novel. In that time, I have learned a lot. Mostly that if I can worry about it, I will. I worry about everything associated with publishing, usually irrationally and in maddening excess.

That has been the biggest lesson of debuting so far: You will worry about everything.

You will worry about plot choices you made. You will worry about setting choices you made. You will worry about the words you used in describing these plot and setting choices. You will worry about how you spelled your characters’ names. You will worry that your book isn’t getting enough marketing attention. You’ll worry your book is getting too much. You’ll worry no one will read it. You’ll worry everyone will. Everything that once made sense when it was just you and your manuscript on your own will be thrown into sharp relief and called into question. You will worry this is a fluke and you will never sell another novel. You will worry your book is actually terrible and everyone who has read it and told you they loved it was on drugs. You will worry about the cruel and profanity-laden reviews people will leave for you on Goodreads. You will worry about the equally cruel but less profanity laden reviews you will get in review journals.

You will worry about things you did not know it was possible to worry about. You will worry about everything

And it will probably drive you crazy.

These, my friends, are what I now call champagne problems.

The other week, I was having lunch/writing date with two author friends of mine. We were talking about the sort of things authors talk about when they get together—advances, marketing, covers, editors. Or rather, what happens when your advance is smaller than you expected, when you don’t get the marketing plan you wanted, when your cover isn’t good, when your editor just stops responding.

And then one of them—much smarter than me—said, “Aren’t these lucky problems to have?”

Champagne problems. Luxurious and lucky problems that come with having amazing things happen to you.

But you, as the debut author, will still worry irrationally and constantly about them. And that’s sort of weird gift in a way too, because it means this matters to you. This matters a lot. And it is a champagne problem indeed to have something that matters enough to worry that much1.

  1. Maybe I am writing things blog post to you, the audience, or maybe I am writing a weird letter to self. Who knows?
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8 thoughts on “The Road Thus Far: Champagne Problems

  1. I think this is just “the nature of the beast aka publishing.” You worked very hard to write a story, then you worked to get published, and now you want the book to do good. But this is the thing you can’t control. Laughing a bit at the title, This Monstrous Thing. How fit! Good luck, I’m buying.

  2. Rosalyn says:

    From my end (currently on sub for the first time), these do look like good problems! And no doubt I’ll worry about all the same things if–when–I get there! But I’m excited for your book anyway.

    • MackenziLee says:

      They are! They are the luckiest, tastiest, sparkliest problems ever! I am very lucky to have them–and someday you will too! Good luck on sub! You WILL get there! No question.

  3. Reblogged this on Jackie Lea Sommers and commented:
    Good solidarity and reminder from my friend Mackenzi (who is also with Katherine Tegen Books) …

  4. cometparty says:

    Cheers, my dear! *slurps on a bellini*

  5. […] Mackenzi Lee on recognizing when your problems are ‘champagne problems.’ […]

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