So a couple days ago, I come home, open the door, and find this waiting for me:
My book. My baby.
My next thought was that these might be my author copies. But there was WAY too many for that. Then I remembered that a couple weeks ago, one of the PR people at Penguin told me that a bookstore owner had read the advance copy of the book and really loved it. He wanted to buy a hundred copies for his store, and was wondering if I would sign them for him.
I said, “sure, no problem,” then pretty much forgot about it.
Carrying all the books inside really made me realize that 100 books is, to put it delicately, a whole shitload. And this is just for one store….
So anyway, I pulled out a book and decided to get started. I figured this was going to take me a while, unpacking, signing, then repacking the books to ship back out.
But before I even opened the first book, I was paralyzed with performance anxiety. Seriously. I held the pen and thought, “What if my signature doesn’t look… well… authory enough?”
You know that phase you go through when you’re in middle school, where you practice your signature so you’re ready for when you become a rock star and have to sign autographs all the time? I know most of my peer group went through this somewhere between the ages of 11 and 16. One of my friends actually developed an entire variant style of cursive writing that he’s used ever since. It was, and still is, totally cool looking.
Anyway, I never went through that phase. I wanted to be a rock star. But I suspected I didn’t have the right sort of hair. I also had the penmanship of a demented monkey. Plus, I was lazy and had no musical talent to speak of.
Instead I wasted my time reading books, talking to girls, and doing my physics homework. As I looked down at the hundred books I was supposed to sign, I mourned my misspent youth.
So I sat down and signed my name a couple times. Its one of those things that’s easy if you’re not thinking about it, and hard when you’re concentrating too much. I suddenly became very aware of the fact that the O leading into the T and the H is kinda hard to do quickly. If you rush it, you get tripped up and your H gets tangled up with the F.
That’s right. Laugh it up. It’s a hard name to sign, especially when you’re obsessing, and nervous, and you have, at best, the penmanship of a third grader.
Anyway, I toughed it out and did my best. I still think my signature looks a little goofy, and there are a few of them where the H looks like it’s getting freaky with the F, and the F might not be entirely cool with it. But still, given the fact that I started this whole process with a significant handicap, I think I did pretty well.
I just finished the last one, repacked the boxes, and got them ready to send out.
So before I go to bed, I’d like to give you aspiring writers out there some advice. Learn from my mistakes. Practice your signature now.