Dreaming Big

February 25th, 2013

So my seventh novel goes on sale tomorrow, online and (with any luck) at bookstores throughout the country. Tomorrow morning I will beg friends and fans to buy the book and will continue to do as much online promotion as I can, all in the hopes that attention will be paid. But will it?

In stores TOMORROW

In stores TOMORROW

I had an interesting talk with my 12-year-old son this weekend. (Actually, virtually all the conversations I have with Will are interesting: he thinks seriously and creatively about a lot of different topics and knows more than I do about most of them.) We were on our way to his second debate tournament. His previous and only experience at a debate tournament had been mildly frustrating: he hadn’t done as well as he’d hoped. But during our drive that morning, he said to me, “I’m going to go in thinking we’ll win all four debates and that I’m going to get high speaker points. I know that probably won’t happen, but I might as well think it will, right?”

And I told him that I thought that was exactly what he should do. And I said that every time I publish a novel, I have a moment when I think, “Maybe this one will hit the New York Times Bestselling List.” It is, as Samuel Johnson famously said about second marriages, the triumph of hope over experience.  In my earlier days as a writer, when the thought would come into my head, I’d push it away, embarrassed: Look who thinks she’s so great! No one even knows who you are. You’ll be lucky if you sell enough copies to get another book deal.  But then I read an article that said people who daydream about success tend to be more motivated and resilient than people who don’t. And I realized that daydreams don’t cost you anything: they’re free and they’re private and they’re, frankly, kind of delicious. So why deprive yourself? Reality comes along to slap you in the face soon enough: why not bathe in a little happy “what if-ing” first?

So my son walked into his tournament with a smile on his face because he was thinking about a future where his team won every debate and he got 90’s on his speaker points. Neither of which happened. They won half their debates and he was disappointed by his speaker points, but he left that day saying that he loved the tournament and wanted to debate more. He wasn’t cast down by the contrast between his dreams and reality. The dream had been lovely and the reality had been exciting.

And even though I’m not nearly as goodnatured and fine a person as this son of mine, I’m going to learn from him. I’m going to dream big today: the book will go on sale tomorrow and thousands of people will flock to Amazon and Barnes and Noble and independent bookstores everywhere to buy it and it will soar to the top of the bestseller lists!

And then I’ll settle for reality, which is that I’m lucky to get books published at all, and that my last YA novel Epic Fail did just fine and has allowed me to continue writing books for HarperTeen, and there’s a good chance this will do equally well. And no matter what actually happens tomorrow, even if not one single copy of The Trouble with Flirting gets sold, my husband and I agreed we would open a bottle of champagne at dinner and make a toast together. To publication dates and the dreams that go with them.

  • Jocelyn says:

    Well, you’ve got one pre-order… Mine! Love your books, both for adults and YA, and I’m excited to read this one.

  • FreeTheMom says:

    Claire, you know I’m on bard! So excited. And so happy to look back and think about those years when this all started. Hugs 🙂

  • I actually just bought a copy last night — Forever Young Adult’s review reminded me I had wanted to read it after reading “Epic Fail” (I bought “Epic Fail” when it was on ebook special from HarperTeen; your writing style and retelling caught my attention, which I suppose was the whole point. But, I digress…).

    And I’ve already read it in one nearly sleepless night (which I don’t advise any other mothers of toddlers to do, especially if the mother’s allergies are already acting up). I enjoyed it as much as Forever Young Adult led me to believe I would as a former theater nerd.

    The witty repartee was great, the swoon was sweet and it makes me want to read “Mansfield Park” — so, please, keep dreaming and writing!

  • Claire says:

    thank you, Lorena! So happy to hear that. The nicest comment . . .

  • Emily says:

    I pray that you do another YA Austen adaptation, or any more YA, really. I read Epic Fail (and loved it) but didnt realize you were also the author of The Trouble With Flirting when I grabbed it off a shelf under my mother’s repeated prompt to “just pick something already” — well, I stayed up ridiculously late last night because I couldn’t put it down. Thanks so much for the opportunity–haven’t had a read I was so enthusiastic about in a while

  • Claire says:

    Emily, my update of Persuasion (tentatively titled THE LAST BEST KISS) will be out in about a year! So you don’t have to wait too long. I’m so glad you liked TTWF!

  • That’s such great news! Gives me time to read Persuasion (the only Austen I haven’t read yet).
    By the way, wanted to mention how glad I was you didn’t villainize Harry/Henry in TTWF. I always had a soft spot for Crawford. Harry was a great character, and the sassy dialogue throughout the book was fantastic. I’m going to reread it to my sister today–so excited.

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