Two weeks from now, my novel will join the ranks of published books. Wow! Knowing that people will read my book and like it or dislike it, makes me a bundle of nerves. But I can handle it – I’m not that worried, really. As long as I get some feedback, I’m happy (okay, I’d like it to be good or sort of fine, I admit that. If I get one terrible review, let me have a good one too to even out the balance). Some readers will like it, some will not. Besides, I know it’s unlikely the book will cause much of a stir in the book world. There are so many books published. My own to-read list grows and grows, and I have piles of books that haven’t made it to the actual list yet because I gather books quicker than I update my Goodreads list. It’s easy to drown among the masses. Fine. I’m still getting published!
Knowing that people who know me will read the book, though, makes me want to hop on a space shuttle and go to Mars and stay. Why? Well, my mother will see the swearing (I have never heard her swear) and my dad (who swears now and then), my in-laws too (they are lovely people, by the way), and my sister, friends and colleagues – even students – who read it will try to find out who they are (they’re not), or which character is me (no, I’m not the protagonist! I’m not a teenage boy, for one thing. And I didn’t grow up in Africa. But okay, I do ride a mountain bike), and they’ll think I have a thing for lots of things. Some weird things too. (“I always knew there was something strange about Nina…”)
Of course, there are things in the book that are real. There’s a Nissan Sunny, for instance. My husband and I had an old Sunny once. We nearly froze to death in -32 (or was it -33?) degrees Celsius when driving it with a broken heater across a desolate mountain late at night on our way home from Christmas holidays. I didn’t include that memorable story in my book, because it’s something I have experienced. I don’t want to write about my experiences. I want to make up other people’s experiences. I want to move far outside my own comfort zone. (Having people I know read the book is certainly outside my comfort zone.)
Getting used to the idea that from now on I need to get over myself and forget that I’m an introvert whose dislike of the spotlight is immense, will take a lot of time to process. But, as I say to my students: pushing the limits is good. (Usually – so let me add a disclaimer: Small steps at a time, please. My advice does not include partaking in dangerous and/or illegal activities just because. )