A curious thing happened on the interstate 10 east yesterday. Whilst driving to the Los Angeles County fair I was suddenly, out of the blue, struck by disappointment over the decision by Simon and Schuster not to republish Black Passenger. As I pounded the steering wheel with clenched fist, my wife blurted, “your response is late, I was disappointed from 5 months ago.” However, Shoko being Japanese, she showed no such emotion. In fact, all this time I thought she had been indifferent to the news. The reality was that my response was not late, but had changed from 5 months prior, when an equally curious thing happened upon hearing the news that S&S was interested in republishing: Then too I was disappointed.
Quite strange, isn’t it?
Well, I was somewhat elated, though most of it was forced elation, but my overwhelming emotion was of disappointment. I guess I’m one of those strange creatures who relish in the process as opposed to the results, the journey as opposed to the destination. I was having fun pounding the pavement, peddling this book from the boot of my car, in front of Trader Joe’s, at gas stations, on the trains, the Laundromat. And then suddenly, in 12 short months, I was going to get a deal. The dream of many independent publishers, robbing me of the rush derived from the process. I know, it’s an odd feature in my character. Perhaps I should seek therapy about that, but I was looking forward to the hardships of independent publishing. Notice I wrote ‘independent’ as opposed to ‘self’ publishing.
So why is it that all of a sudden I’m stricken with disappointment and downright grief? Why the change of heart? This puzzled me for most of the day, until I arrived at the answer: In the last five months, my environment has changed from one that I could tolerate (northern California) to one that I could tolerate less (southern California). Driving on interstate 10, east of downtown LA, is just no comparison to driving on interstate 280 between San Francisco and San Jose. It is said that interstate 280 is the most beautiful motorway in the US. Sitting in traffic on that grey, and depressing marriage of steel, tarmac and concrete, brought to mind how different things would’ve been had Atria republished my book.
After that episode I reminded myself that republishing was not even in my imagination, and had Atria not suggested it, I would have never even thought about it. That was me reasoning with myself, trying to shake the 10 east blues. But it was too late, Atria had already planted the seed, and now I am actively pursuing a repub arrangement. But until that happens, I’m staying the hell off the 10 motorway, east of downtown LA.