This Tuesday, the 17th, is drop day for THE QUEEN OF PATPONG, and I am stretched so thin I'm practically transparent.
For the past 4-5 weeks I've spent 10 -14 hours a day at my keyboard. Four days ago I was interrupted rather rudely when my computer died, just went belly-up, as inert as a stale biscuit. I experienced a nice, energizing flow of adrenaline, since I back up about as often as Rush says something clever. But the adrenaline receded, as adrenaline will, to be replaced by total, sweat-popping panic, the kind of panic that wrings out your soul like a dish towel My new book was on that computer, as were my other new book, notes for a third new book, the short story for the upcoming Bangkok Noir collection, the mailing list of 1600 people who receive my monthly newsletter, my monthly newsletter itself, all my passwords to everything in the world, 8,000 songs in my iTunes library, and a whole bunch of other irreplaceable ephemera.
Ultimately, my rational mind asserted itself. "It's not a mechanical failure," my rational mind said in a reassuring baritone that hardly trembled at all. "Remember, Microsoft is involved here. Let's assume the problem is the Usual Suspect. The drive is probably fine. Here's a plan." Two hours and $700 later, I had a beautiful new Hewlett-Packard laptop with Windows 7 (an improvement of some magnitude) and a cute little drive housing that connected to the new computer with a USB cord. I popped the drive out of the defunct computer, slipped it into the connectors in the housing, and plugged the housing into the USB port, and -- voila! --the new computer treated it as an external drive and obediently copied onto its own drive everything I needed from the old one.
So within hours I was able to go back to being stressed beyond belief, multi-tasking beyond my capabilities, making interesting and even memorable mistakes -- the sustained frenzy in which I've lived most of the past month. It's been a marathon of writing guest blogs, doing interviews, both print and on the radio (Leighton listened in!), getting the newsletter together, sending it to 1600 people, fielding replies, creating the Power Point presentation for the bookstores, rehearsing it, setting appearances, mapping the tour route, getting the car serviced, getting me serviced -- all to the point of actual dizziness and occasional self-pity, while all the while something deep inside me is going, Holy ****, we got a book coming out. At an age when we might be tatting lavender balls, squinting at 98-point type, or perfecting our shuffleboard, we got a book coming out, and a book behind that one and a book behind that one. And I just have to ask myself what I've done to be so fortunate.
About an hour ago, I remembered that I had to write this. I started to try to come up with something respectable, something artful, even, but then I thought, Why should I? Why take off the bathrobe and yank the curlers from my hair? This is the way my neighbors see me in the brief interval between the time they come through the door and the time I chase them back outside -- why shouldn't you see me this way? Why get all gussied up when I'm almost terminally whipped and my hair looks like I comb it with a fork lift? So here I am: the real me.
One great thing about this period is reviews, when they're good, and they are this time. Here are two QUEEN reviews that came in this morning: one by Jen Forbus and one by the novelist Rachel Brady. It's hard to feel sorry for oneself when people are saying things like this. I guess I will write that next book.