By the time September rolls around, the publicity cycle for my latest novel, Woman No. 17, will be over. That means, unless something totally unexpected happens for the book, there won’t be any more press opportunities. It’s a little sad (Wait? It’s over? I’m already yesterday’s news?!) and also: Phew, what a relief. As anyone who’s published a book knows, the process can make you feel exposed and vulnerable. You’re fragile. Your ego is in overdrive, as is your shame. Once a friend of mine was interviewed on Fresh Air about his novel. I was like, “OH MY GOD! YOU TALKED TO TERRY GROSS! ARE YOU DYING OF HAPPINESS?” He shook his head. He said he’d been doing a lot of weeping. I understood his pain; even when my first novel was a bestseller lauded by a famous TV host, I felt weird and confused. Publishing doesn’t feel like writing does, and no matter how your book’s doing, you kind of just want to crawl into a cave and pretend it isn’t happening.
Here’s what I came up with:
1.The book is a New York Times Bestseller for at least eight weeks in a row, but preferably 767 weeks in a row.
2. My Amazon ranking vacillates between #1 and #2 for those 767 weeks.
3. Oprah calls.
4. Terry Gross wants to interview me, and on Fresh Air we have a super deep conversation about my upbringing and my writing process that’s better than any therapy. Plus, I make her laugh twice. “Thanks for having me, Terry,” I say in a smoky, wise voice.
5. There’s a Triple Crown situation that throws the literary world in a tizzy: the book wins the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Pulitzer Prize. Someone stuffy writes an essay about my wins, which basically boils down to: “Since when did FUN books win awards?”
6. I’m asked to pose in a couture gown, holding a baby goat, for a profile in Vogue.
7. I do events across the nation, all of them packed to the gills, and there is not a single person in the audience asking me to read their as-yet-unpublished paranormal romance.
8. It’s named a best book of the year by every publication that makes lists of best books of the year.
9. The Los Angeles Times decides to review it.
10. My husband pours me a glass of wine (Vinho Verde, maybe?), and begs me to read some of my writing aloud to him, just so he can “hear the words pour over my soul.”
11. It’s adapted for the screen in a collaboration by Nicole Holofcener, Christopher Nolan, and Jill Soloway. Reese Witherspoon is definitely involved, and she keeps texting me, just to say hi. We send Bitmojis back and forth. (Cue to me chuckling privately every time my phone dings.)
12. The movie-version is a huge hit and I get to go to the Oscars and the Globes, where I befriend Chrissy Teigen and Terrence Malick.
13. My daughter realizes I’m an Important Author and stops throwing her smoothie across the room with an evil cackle.
14. Stephen King tweets rapturously about my writing. Lauren Groff retweets his tweet and adds something like, “Oh. My. God. SAME!”
15. I’m invited to do a Beauty Uniform, House Tour, and a Week of Outfits on Cup of Jo. However, it turns out readership for all blogs has gone down in recent weeks, because everyone is too busy reading my book to look at their phones.
16. The Obamas are photographed on vacation somewhere and Michelle’s got my book under one of her perfectly toned arms. When asked about it, she says, “Oh Barry said I had to read it.”
17. My book, or my name, appears in a New York Times Crossword Puzzle. I’m thinking something like, “2 across, four letters, American Author, _____ Lepucki”
18. All of my former lovers find ways to tell me they’ve never forgotten about my miraculous pussy. This is done in a non-creepy, non-threatening manner. (Maybe friends of friends tell me? Or: One of them (the rich one) hires a sky-writer above Malibu?)
19. No one ever spells my name Eden ever again.
20. I’m invited on The Ellen DeGeneres show. She and I do a little dance routine together in matching white suits and Converse.
21. The New Yorker reaches out. Can I write 200 words about Ocean Isle Beach, or chocolate rugelach, or Negronis, or unicycles, for their upcoming issue? Of course, they’ll take a short story if I have one ready.
22. The Iowa Writers’ Workshop calls to apologize for never offering me a Teaching-Writing Fellowship.
23. That mean British lady who reviewed my first novel on NPR issues a formal apology for not understanding how essential my work is to the next generation of writers and readers.
24. The next generation of writers and readers—in their jean-shorts that show their butt cheeks, with their mysterious internet acronyms—photograph my book with crystals, with bowls of cherries, with pottery they threw themselves. They post these photos with various hashtags, #edanlepucki #thenextjoandidion #butreally #read #it #now, and tag me.
25. My son tells me it’s fine if I go away for book events and artist retreats because he finally understands how difficult it is to be a writer and a mother. He also stops asking me to wipe his butt after he’s “tried” to wipe it himself.
26. George Saunders emails. He has my 2004 application to Syracuse’s MFA program in front of him. He knows they rejected me then, but would I want to come now? Full scholarship, etc.
27. Everyone who reads this list goes out and buys my novel.
28. In the rare event that someone posts a one-star review of the book on Goodreads, an angel dies somewhere. The reviewer understands this angel-loss intuitively. Also, physically: there is a loud, uncomfortable buzzing in their left ear, then a pain in the gut, possibly diarrhea, followed by a loss of hope more extreme than anything felt on November 9, 2016. They decide to re-read Woman No. 17 and it’s on this second read that they get it, the book is actually, really, truly good! Four stars!
29. The Trump pee tape is finally released. It turns out the women are pissing on a copy of my novel.
30. My mom calls to tell me I’m her favorite.
31. Time stops—literally stops moving forward—until everyone has read my book, and loved it, and told me so, and all my suffering is erased forever and ever amen.
Modest dreams, no?
Image: Envy Plucking the Wings of Fame, Wikimedia