Friday, January 05, 2007

OVERWHELMED


3 red peppers in winter, originally uploaded by patryfrancis.

Okay, you know me by now. In fact, you know me so well that when Amy King recently tagged me for the "Five things you don't know about me" meme, I was stumped. All I could come up with was two boring tidbits. Then when I tried to blog them, I realized, damn, I already told you those, too.

So, as I say, you know me. You know I like to hang out in my pajamas till noon and talk to my imaginary friends (aka "my characters").

I drink too much coffee in the morning, and too much tea in the afternoon. I eat a piece of dark chocolate every day, and I swear it's the reason I never get colds.

I ruminate on the existential questions, but not too seriously.

I read the obits and wonder what the distilled life means.

On spacious afternoons, I might write a poem, or take the dogs to the beach and pick up shells, or hang out at the health club, and talk to my glamourous seventy-five year old friend, Lina.

I'm neither organized, nor efficient; and in spite of owning the world's most complete collection of sweetly hokey self-help books, I remain utterly unhelped and probably unhelpable.

I love blogs, and I love the people who write them.

But now it seems, my life is changing, and I have no choice but to change with it.

It seems I have a book coming out in less than four weeks, and there's some things I need to do to make it a success.

Things that don't involve pajamas or picking up shells or passing an afternoon listening to Lina talk about all the men who were once in love with her.

I'm also in the dead middle of major revisions on the new novel, a fairly daunting task that needs to be done before February first.

And the thing is, I love this stuff. Every bit of it. I love the writing and the marketing, the networking and the planning. It's the life I've dreamed of and waited for, chased after madly and worked toward with quiet diligence--and damn, I mean to enjoy every blasted minute of it!

But just now. Just today. I'm a little overwhelmed.

Too overwhelmed to think about reading Middlesex, though I've been wanting to for a long time, and will hopefully get to it when my life goes back to normal, whatever that might be.

In fact, I'm too overwhelmed to read anything too demanding. Thus, for The Third Day Book Club, I'm going to do something unprecedented. I'm going to choose a book by an author I've never read--simply because it looks entertaining.

Nicci French, a husband and wife team write psychological suspense novels that are apparently quite popular in England, and the one I chose Secret Smile, was made into a mini-series on the BBC.

This is the review from Publishers' Weekly:

"Nobody does the dark underside of sex in the city better than the British couple who write as Nicci French, and their latest (after 2003's Land of the Living) is one of their most sustained and believable studies in terror against women. Miranda Cotton has an ideal life in London, doing work she loves (building and contracting; she always seems to have a spot of paint in her hair), with no current love interest but lots of dating opportunities. Then a short, nasty liaison with a man who calls himself Brendan Block rips her comfortable world apart. A charming and dangerous psychopath, Block worms his way into the Cotton family claiming that he dumped Miranda (when in fact it was she who tossed him out when she caught him reading her diaries); he immediately wins the trust of her flustered parents and does serious damage to her older sister, Kerry, and her mentally fragile younger brother, Troy. The trouble is that nobody believes the rather rough-edged Miranda when she tries desperately to stop Block's rampage. Studded with sharp insights into the strange compromises involved in modern relationships, this novel could be the horror version of Bridget Jones's Diary. And the authors are so subtle at bringing Brendan and Miranda to life that readers might even begin to doubt that what she's telling us is the whole truth until the stunning climax."

I hope a few of you will read along with me--just for the fun of it! (And meanwhile, if anyone has a cure for the overwhelmed flu, I'm listening.

45 comments:

Rob Gregory Browne said...

Overwhelmed. The perfect word for it. It's close, Patry. Very, very close.

Nancy Ruth said...

Yes,it is a wonderfully overwhelming and exciting time, so yes, do enjoy it to the fullest. My advice (which you won't be able to follow)is to cherish the good reviews and realize that the so-so reviews are written by people not on your wave-length.By reviews I mean not only published ones but comments made by loved ones and friends.

tammy vitale said...

we should all have such overwhelm problems. Congratulations on your overwhelm. My advice? enjoy it. Step apart now and then and savor it. It takes a long time to get to a good overwhelm, like creating great wine. Sip. And grin a lot. And once in a while, do your happy dance. Onward!

Tinker said...

If one must be overwhelmed, I can't think of a better way! Breathe and enjoy, my friend. Reading something just for sheer entertainment sounds like a good antidote, too.
I must admit, seeing the book compared to "the horror version of Bridget Jones' Diary," perversely picqued my interest. Sounds like the perfect thing to read in my pajamas while drinking too much tea - with a piece of dark chocolate, of course
:)

rdl said...

I even hate that word - Overwhelmed - i've blogged of it too but for far more mundane reasons. Your reasons are so exciting! My suggestion (which sometimes works for me -albeit with chores-) is don't look at all the stuff you need to do, just focus on one thing and then feel good when you get it done. However i don't know if this works if you have to be doing 4 things at once. but you can do it, you're a Leo!!
I'm excited and happy for you!! banish the overwhelmedness.

zhoen said...

Like when you were small, and laughing so hard it felt like you couldn't breathe, but the giggling keeps washing over, and you know you have to stop, have to take a breath, but on the other hand it feels so good so happy, and when you do stop laughing, it's a kind of relief and grief at the same time.

Patry Francis said...

rob: So happy I have my Killer Year friends to go through it with me!

nancy ruth: Very wise advice. Thank you!

tammy: "Sip. And grin a lot." I like that! In fact, I'm grinning right now.

tinker: So happy you're up for curling up in pjs and reading some good escapist fiction!

r: That's what I'm trying to do. Make lists and work on one thing at a time. But when I go to bed, it seems the whole list is flashing in neon before my eyes.

Patry Francis said...

zhoen: Yes! That describes it perfectly. These days I suffer from "happy insomnia". Instead of staying up worrying as I sometimes did in the past, I'm now too excited to sleep. I suppose I can't complain, but in the morning, happy insomnia leaves me just as tired as the other kind.

Tarakuanyin said...

I'm happy for you, though I hope you get some sleep soon. Eat more chocolate maybe...

Avus said...

Congrats on the book! Enjoy the business and attention. Enjoy the good reviews - ignore any of the others.

Amy MacKinnon said...

First, breathe, and then lean on your friends, virtual and otherwise. We want to help.

You're on the path, take it one step at a time.

robin andrea said...

Yes, remembering to breathe is probably the most important thing. We do the dark chocolate medicine and we add red wine. All in the interest of good health, of course.

donna said...

Breathe. Sleep. And take it one step at a time, not thinking about the next one. Be in the moment, and do what you're doing now instead of whatever it is you have to do next. Make a list of the stuff you have to do every day. Then ignore it, and do what you're doing.

Sustenance Scout said...

Definitely add red wine to your dark chocolate, Patry, then enjoy every minute of what's headed your way. Remember how proud your kids are of you? So are we. K.

Jordan E. Rosenfeld said...

The fates are working agasint me here. Twice I have tried to get an answer down to you and either deleted it myself, or had it deleted by not siging in properly. This tells me that the true answer is...only you know the right way through your overwhelm. I imagine you'll tackle it as elegantly and with as much chocolate as you do everything else. Make lists, and ask your friends (the ones who "get it") for help, though.

And I'm in for Secret Smile.

Jane Poe (aka Deborah) said...

I would overwhelmed in your shoes as well .... I'm surprised you have time to read anything! Good luck with the book & revisions. Much peace and happy thoughts to you, JP

Paris Parfait said...

This is a very exciting time in your life, Patry. Who wouldn't feel a bit overwhelmed? If you find time to read a book at all this month, I'll be impressed! The book sounds interesting and I shall look for it.

Devon Ellington said...

Enjoying the process is the best road to success.

Dark chocolate every day to fight colds, huh? I've got a mother of one, and I guess I didn't eat enough chocolate lately.

I promise to fix that NOW.

KG said...

So many others have already told you this, but I must say it again because of its primary importance:

Breathe, deeply and slowly, eyes closed, for as long as you need to in order to carve a path, through the overwhelm, back to yourself.

Have fun along the road. The ride is one of the best parts of the journey (I know from your posts that you know this). This is all very exciting!

ainelivia said...

This is a quick comment, to suggest, chicken soup which I'm sure you already know about, and spoonfuls of Manuka Honey, for the flu...

Laini Taylor said...

Patry, enjoy all the attention your book brings you -- and by May you should have some advice for ME about how to manage this next step. Your book is almost here!!! I can't wait to read it!!

sarala said...

I'm looking forward to Nicci French.
Congrats on the book(s). These are things worth feeling overwhelmed about. I hope the flu goes away soon.

Left-handed Trees... said...

Ah...you already know that those spacious afternoons will return to you once you get through the public maze and the second book. Then, you'll sit on the beach and wonder what to do next...sigh--it will be sweet, just as this current flurry of activity is sweet. I wish you luck in getting from here to there (and, of course!) back again many-many times with your future projects.
--D.--

Matt said...

Overhwhelming, perhaps - but exciting? Most definitely! I have already paid a visit to the Amazon.com listing for your novel; can't wait for it to come out? I hope you'll indulge all of us with requests for signed copies;-)

And I agree with everyone who has spoken before regarding the reviews. Love the good ones, accept the mediocre ones, and ignore the lousy ones!

- Matt

Sharon Hurlbut said...

My advice: have another piece of chocolate (or two). Four weeks seems unreal - what a wonderfully exciting time! I think it sounds much like being a new mother. Yes, it's overwhelming. You're sleep-deprived and harried. It's also going to be over much sooner than you think and will never come again (at least not until the next book/baby). Enjoy it as much as possible!

Oh, and count me in - I'm going to give Secret Smile a try.

melba said...

Everyday I prioritize;
the tasks like
should I do the laundry or clean the bathrooms?
and the fun stuff like
should we play hide and go seek or paint Valentines Day cards?

I use to feel Overwhelmed, but then I took that word out of my vocabulary and instead say
I feel Full
My life is full
BOY My Life is FULL Today!

It really does work for me.
I prioritize and reprioritize because at the end of the day the laundry can wait (even though it really does eventually have to get done) But reading to my children and writing in my journal is a priority for me right now.

Blessings on the release of your book! :)

XO,
Melba

steve said...

I'm a bit envious of being ovrewhelmed right now. But I wish you success with The Liar's Diary. I just pre-ordered a copy through Amazon. And a thought comes to mind. One can be overwhelmed or underwhelmed, but is anyone ever merely whelmed? The term must have been in use at one time.

Anonymous said...

"I remain utterly unhelped and probably unhelpable."


I don't think I've ever read a sentence I love more.

Tish Cohen

Patry Francis said...

tarakuanyin: Thanks! I finally did sleep last night. EVen "happy insomnia" relents when you get tired enough. Then today we celebrated a family birthday, and I didn't think a bit about work all day.

avus: That's one of the good things about all the rejection a writer gets early on. It inures you to a lot. Thanks for your good wishes.

amy: There's something so calming about your voice. I feel better just hearing it. (And thanks for being there to lean on.)

robin: Breathing and red wine. Good medicine indeed.

donna: "Make a list every day. Then ignore it and do what you're doing."
How did you know? That's exactly what I do! And sometimes I find at the end of the day that I've actually accomplished a few of the items on my list in spite of myself.

k: Tonight we watched Akeelah and the Bee, and I couldn't help thinking of my blog friends. In many ways, you are my "500O coaches."

jordan: So happy you're going to join us for the book! I like the wisdom of your non-advice. I do know the way through it, but hearing you all say it definitely helps.

deborah: Keep dropping by to spread your peace. It's much needed and always felt. I swear it.

tara: Reading is sometimes the only thing that puts me to sleep so I will definitely be doing some this month, but not anything too demanding. Glad you're on board for Secret Smile. (Must put the link up--another item for my list.)

Devon: "Enjoying the process"--what a wonderful thought that is.

kg: I like the phrase "carving a path through the overwhelm". That was what I did today. I took a total day off and carved!

ainelivia: I don't think that even the manuka honey could help the kind of flu I have, but I love the sound of the name so much I'm going to look for it anyway!

laini: Looking forward to sitting in that wine bar in New York and figuring it all out together! You have no idea how much I'm looking forward to it--

sarala: I haven't yet heard from anyone who's actually read Nicci French, but the reader reviews on Amazon were very positive...

matt: Nothing would delight me more than a request for a signed copy. Thank you for asking!

sharon: The baby metaphor is very apt. It's a wonderful, much longed for time, but after years of writing in my own dark little cave, I can't help blinking at the light! So happy that you'll be joining us for Secret Smile--

melba: What a wonderful way to reframe the situation--not overwhelmed, but full. That is so true. Thanks for all your good wishes and your support!

steve: Thanks so much for ordering the book, and for your friendship throughout the process. Now you've got me wondering about what it means to be whelmed. Not over or under, but perfectly whelmed. Words are so interesting.

tish: You are one of the few who know how sadly true that sentence is...

Lorna said...

I also have all the hokey self-help books, but the scarey thing is that many of them actually work. I loved Suite Francaise, and wish I had been part of third Day---I keep reading the books and sailing blithely through the 3rd day....

I am so excited for you I can hardly sit still. And my guess is that, pyjamas or not, you can't either.

Jean said...

Nicci French is very good indeed - in a genre I dislike, so I can't say much more. But for anyone who likes this kind of thing, they are very superior writers, I think.

Thinking of you very much Patry at this exciting time.

P. A. Moed said...

Hi Patry.

It's funny, isn't it? You've probably dreamed of this time for years and now that it's here, you feel overwhelmed by your good fortune and the demands it entails. This is a growing time, when you're learning how to cope with new challenges and responsibilities. Give yourself room to make mistakes, feel overwhelmed, and muddle through things if you need to. Rely on friends, family, and that piece of chocolate (or maybe 2)! I'm cheering for you!

P. A. Moed said...

Hi Patry.

It's funny, isn't it? You've probably dreamed of this time for years and now that it's here, you feel overwhelmed by your good fortune and the demands it entails. This is a growing time, when you're learning how to cope with new challenges and responsibilities. Give yourself room to make mistakes, feel overwhelmed, and muddle through things if you need to. Rely on friends, family, and that piece of chocolate (or maybe 2)! I'm cheering for you!

P. A. Moed said...

Hi Patry.

It's funny, isn't it? You've probably dreamed of this time for years and now that it's here, you feel overwhelmed by your good fortune and the demands it entails. This is a growing time, when you're learning how to cope with new challenges and responsibilities. Give yourself room to make mistakes, feel overwhelmed, and muddle through things if you need to. Rely on friends, family, and that piece of chocolate (or maybe 2)! I'm cheering for you!

P. A. Moed said...

Hi Patry.

It's funny, isn't it? You've probably dreamed of this time for years and now that it's here, you feel overwhelmed by your good fortune and the demands it entails. This is a growing time, when you're learning how to cope with new challenges and responsibilities. Give yourself room to make mistakes, feel overwhelmed, and muddle through things if you need to. Rely on friends, family, and that piece of chocolate (or maybe 2)! I'm cheering for you!

P. A. Moed said...

Hi Patry.

It's funny, isn't it? You've probably dreamed of this time for years and now that it's here, you feel overwhelmed by your good fortune and the demands it entails. This is a growing time, when you're learning how to cope with new challenges and responsibilities. Give yourself room to make mistakes, feel overwhelmed, and muddle through things if you need to. Rely on friends, family, and that piece of chocolate (or maybe 2)! I'm cheering for you!

P. A. Moed said...

Hi Patry.

It's funny, isn't it? You've probably dreamed of this time for years and now that it's here, you feel overwhelmed by your good fortune and the demands it entails. This is a growing time, when you're learning how to cope with new challenges and responsibilities. Give yourself room to make mistakes, feel overwhelmed, and muddle through things if you need to. Rely on friends, family, and that piece of chocolate (or maybe 2)! I'm cheering for you!

Patry Francis said...

lorna: Some day we'll have to get together and talk self-help books. I'd love to know the ones that worked for you! Glad you're enjoying the Third Day books, even if you're reading them on the twenty-third.

jean: Thrilled to hear a recommendation for Nicci French from a voice I trust. I just found her, I mean THEM, by poking around Amazon looking for something fun to read...that is, if you find murder and menace entertaining.

patti: Thanks for cheering! I swear I can hear it from here, and it's even better than chocolate.

M. G. Tarquini said...

This is the good kind of overwhelmed. The overwhelmed we all work towards. And you got it.

And I get the Nicci French book today. Good pick.

Patry Francis said...

mindy: It's true. The happy insomnia is much better than the kind I used to have. Just ordered the book myself. Can't wait to read it--

Marilyn said...

PLEASE tell me you're coming to Northern California on your book tour...it doesn't even have to be near Davis...just somewhere in the top half of the state...I'll find you, swear (and you know it's a big-ass state!) ;)

P.S. HEY! Wanna do a reading in Davis?! There's a cool indy bookstore (The Avid Reader) just a few blocks from our house...I saw Pam Houston read there (she lives here).

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