Lately I have been incredibly busy fulfilling the Rewards (books, autographed books, T-shirts, etc.) requirement of the crowdfunding campaign, and consequently I have been a one-man postal service—lazy, surly, and glacially paced.
But the rewards, indeed! It is funny to me (in the interesting, not-funny way) that I am sending out rewards when the fact is that it is I who have been so rewarded. When I look at the list of backers, it is like looking at a blessed kaleidoscope of my life. I received donations from my loving family, from St. Francis friends, from Mayfield friends, from Ohio University friends, from SoCal friends, and from complete strangers. Each of them was a hand reached out to help me from falling off the face of my existence—the very real danger of my all-or-nothing literary ambition!—and I could almost literally weep into each outstretched hand that came forward.
But instead I've placed books in those hands.
The books are more meaningful than the tears would ever be. I am always a storm of emotions, so evidence of me being overwhelmed is easy to dig up, but evidence of a man who's spent twenty years quietly refining the edges of his prose? Most of that evidence is unrecorded, but today it takes shape in the form of my darling opus, which shape I am sending all across the country.
I've never been more stressed out or scared in my life. It would take an entire autobiography to explain how important this whole venture is to me (far beyond the skeletal structure I've set down already on this site), and yet with love comes vulnerability, so right now I am utterly exposed. Nearly every time I've been raised up by anything in my life, it seemed to be only so that I could be spiked forcefully back into the ground. This time, I am so pleased with what I have created that I have reached some of the loftiest heights of my life, and my terror comes from the idea that a black swan will pop this bubble and I'll have to ride this dying, farting balloon until I slam into something that won't let either of us pass through.
But that is how my mind always works—worries itself until it glows bright hot and ready to explode. And I only bring this all up to once again circle back to the concept that I had no idea how psychologically rewarding this crowdfunding thing would be. I desperately needed the money, but I didn't realize how much I needed the validation. (As a person who strives to be as self-contained as possible, I usually ignore that part of myself). But the fact is that I have been fairly alone on this literary island for literal decades, and yet each backer seemed to be letting me know that there really are people out there who are receptive to what I'm doing here, and that an actual audience exists beyond the theoretical Reader who exists in my mind and whom I'm always trying to charm.
But even beyond the psychological rewards, the publicity efforts have already resulted in an extremely praising review of the book. Until I received that review, the only people who'd read the book were people who love me on one level or another, so it was hard for me to trust that their artistic opinions weren't influenced by their existential ones. But that kind of review from a complete stranger?
I honestly didn't need it—I've read hundreds of books, and I wish this didn't sound so cocky but I already know how good my book is—so what I can say honestly about that review is that reading it was a great relief. Someone else—in fact, the utterly brilliant reviewer F.T. Donereau—"got it."
Either way, the sum of this whole experience comes down to this: I have learned that there are at least 83 other people in the world who've vociferously supported my literary ambitions, and that's just enough to make me want millions more, haha.
So for now it's back to the one-man postal service ("Dan D. sleeps alone tonight"), back to worrying myself furiously, but at least momentarily enjoying the lofty view from atop this as-yet-unpopped bubble I'm riding.