Warning: this post is intense and honest.
In less than a month, November 21st, my book, THE TEMPTATION OF ADAM, will hit the shelves of book stores near you. I sold TOA on May 15, 2015. A little more than two years ago. Of course, I'd written the book in the winter of 2014. So, time combined we've got three years into this book. That doesn't include all the time I spent before May 15th writing, querying, getting rejected, and trying to make books work.
I've been dreaming of November 21st since I wrote my first fictional word on August 11, 2011. Six years ago. Since I sold TOA, I've spent just as many hours dreaming of how to promote it, share it, and make it successful as I did writing it. For all the time and struggle I paid, I sure wasn't going to waste "my shot".
As a writer, I've memorialized dates such as August 11, 2011 and May 15, 2015. Hoping that someday they'd mark how far I've come and the work that led to my debut. And they did. For a long time they did. I pushed through the anxiety of hoping my book would be a success. I've dreamed up schemes that I thought would help get it into the hands of readers and then...
That's what time it was when I answered a phone call from my mom in which she told me she'd found my dad dead in the yard.
That's a time I'll remember every time I look at a clock, or a phone, or a watch. It was October 3rd. A Tuesday. I was releasing TOA's tie-in album, an album I spent four years conceptualizing/writing/recording, in less than a week. Just that morning I was talking to a friend about how excited I was that my time to shine had finally come. I was excited that I could stop bothering my agent and editor with questions about how things could possibly go and actually see for myself. Then, 7:13.
Since then, I've thought about the last hour of my dad's life instead of what journalist I could pitch. I've wondered whether or not the last thing I told him was "I love you" instead of sales numbers. I've watched friends debut on the NYT bestseller list while I carry my dad's ashes ashes out of a funeral home. I've been mad. I've been depressed. I've been frustrated. I've questioned the fairness of it all.
It's heartbreaking to me that 61 years of hard work, happiness, heartbreak, wisdom, a hard fought marriage, and accomplishments can all be over in a minute. A set time that we have no control of. It haunts me that I'll have the same fate. All my striving, all my "platform building", all my awards, or more so my non-awards, stop mattering the moment I peace out.
It's because of this that I've struggled to care about TOA. I've been on the brink of canceling the launch party every night. I almost cancelled the album release. I still haven't listened to the entirety of the album. Maybe a song here and there, but not the whole thing. All the excitement I had turned into feelings of vanity. Self-promotion feels like disingenuous face. "Success" sounds and feels as vague as playing a scale on a broken trumpet. All of this is especially true when I'm staring at the box filled with my dad's ashes. All the comparison. All the fighting to be heard seems pointless when I'm seeing first hand that, in the end, you just end up in a box or in the ground.
So, where does that leave me?
I don't know.
I do know that my dad was always proud of my creativity. He wanted me to "make it". Whatever that means. He was a pastor and apparently bragged about me from the pulpit frequently enough that people saw fit to mention it at his memorial service. Four years ago, my microphone of 13 years had broke, rendering my ability to make music useless. I couldn't afford a new one, so I'd accepted that LOOKING FOR EDEN was just going to remain a concept. He didn't want me to stop, so he bought me the microphone to record the album. There was never a point that my dad wanted me to stop and if I did, then he tried to figure out how to keep me going. That's the only thing that's moving me forward. The thought that, if he were still here, he'd be pissed if I stopped now.
I'm mourning the loss of my dad, but I'm also mourning the loss of excitement for releasing the stuff I've worked so hard to put in the world. Both losses seem to reflect against each other, amplifying the voice of vanity. In my heart, I know the world still needs good books. I know the world still needs good art, but, right now, I can barely think of a reason why. Yet time doesn't stop. The clock still ticks no matter how hard I wish it wouldn't. Even if I hold the minute hand down, time still moves. November 21st is still coming and TOA is coming out whether I want it to or not.
I used to think that "eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we may die" was just pessimistic, but suddenly it's become truth. God put those words in the bible because they define the human existence. So, maybe a party isn't as useless as I think it is. Maybe the celebrating is more important than what you're celebrating. Maybe celebrating the release of a book with the people who've fought with you is more of a legacy than some silly book that'll be forgotten in a few years.
You know, I didn't know how I was going to end this post, but I think, after all this talking we've done, I think I've got it.
Friends and fam, if you're reading this, you're invited to my launch party November 18th, 6:30 at the artsBuild building in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Let's eat queso, drink beer or juice (if you're under 21), and release art, for, let's face it, tomorrow we may die.
You can RSVP on the The TOA launch party event page on Facebook.
Thanks for reading.