In honor of the publication of his delightful book, The World's Strongest Librarian, we bring you a guest post by Salt Lake City Public Library librarian, strength trainer, book lover, wonderful guy and author Josh Hanagarne.
I'm writing this on what is basically Book Tour Eve, and I'm embarrassed at how sweaty and frantic I feel. I've never considered myself a comfort eater, but I'm fighting the urge to go buy a box of marshmallow Peeps and cram them down my gullet. It's particularly surreal when these feelings are competing against the most profound gratitude and excitement I've ever known.
The Week Of The Launch is finally here, but I suddenly feel like I've been in denial for the past eighteen months. As I've watched my publication day creep closer, it has been with a mixture of delight and terror, but also with an odd sense that it's all happening to someone else.
Delight: Well, what debut author wouldn't be delighted to have his or her book finally hitting the shelves? Defying The Odds, Never Giving Up, Achieving My Dreams, etc. And I get to go on tour! I'm still such a bumpkin that just going to a new place, even if it's the outskirts of Topeka, is still a huge treat. But I get to go and talk about not only books, but my book!
It's bizarre to work a normal shift from 8 - 5 at the reference desk, answering questions about anything and everything, and to have my relatively normal day interrupted by emails that say things like, "You'll be doing a USA Today feature while you're in New York."
And I'll squint at those emails and think, "Wait, what? Who is this email for?" And then I'll remember who wrote the book.
The press has been great, the support from bookstores, locally and nationally, has been humbling, and it's already led to more opportunities to do the work I cherish most -- traveling and speaking to children with special needs and their parents.
But yes, I'm scared, because even though I've never been out on tour before, I know what I can expect from my disorder.
Terror: I have extreme Tourette Syndrome. It's not always bad, but apparently it's always bad in the run-up to a book tour. At a bookseller lunch about a month ago, Catherine Weller said:
"I'm curious, Josh, you say that the increased visibility and publicity might make your tics worse. How's that going to affect your book tour?"
"Good question Catherine!" I said, then changed the subject quickly, deftly, in a way I hoped didn't look like I was avoiding the question that scared me.
The part of me that whimpers when my tics are injuring me and trapping me in my house is saying, "Yes, this is a dream come true, but let's not forget that nightmares are dreams as well!" To which I say, "You shut up." And sometimes it even works.
The truth is, I know how the tour and publicity are going to affect me, because I've had three decades to pay attention to the situations that most reliably exacerbate my tics:
Being out of my house
Being the center of attention
Having my picture taken
It's bittersweet. With every new layer of publicity and media support, I'm a little more visible. With every bit of increased visibility, the story I've told in the book gains the potential to be more useful as it reaches more people, which is wonderful. And yet, stepping onto a bigger stage is probably going to be the worst possible thing for my health in the short-term. The busier I get, and the more people I meet, the worse the tics tend to get.
But meeting people, and being busy, and talking about books are also the things I enjoy most. And most of the things I enjoy most come with a cost, because they involve being out and about and mingling.
My search for a normal, quiet life, one in which I can sit still in public and not yell and twitch and bark and yammer and hit myself has led me to an improbably, increasingly public place.
But for all the nerves, I'm far more scared of being bored than anything else, and I'm certainly not bored.
If you're reading this, I hope you'll get the chance to come and say hi.
Gotham Books is releasing Josh's book this week. It is a wonderful read. You should buy it.
Josh, despite his worries, is a treat to meet and listen to. Here's a link to his book tour. If you're lucky enough to be in a city where he's appearing, go see him. Tell him we sent you.
And finally, here is a link to Josh's blog, World's Strongest Librarian.