It's that time of year! The holiday season is upon us, and, old jaded ex-retail employee that I am, I'm hiding out avoiding the crush, the endless loop of "Jinglebells" and "I saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus", the frantic rush, the shrieking sales ads: in short, everything. A friend recently asked me, "What are you doing for the holidays?" and my response was straight from the heart: "Hopefully, as little as possible." It's not that I don't like the season, really . . . well, let me rephrase that.
Working in retail / fashion for as long as I did, for most of my twenties, does tend to sour one's view of humanity at this time of year. I recall one Christmas eve in particular when I was working on the floor at a large department store (I was the buyer at the time for accessories) and I came upon two very well-dressed women literally engaged in a tug-of-war over the last ivory-colored cashmere scarf on sale. I went up to them and tried to explain that a) such behavior really wasn't permitted in the store; and b) we had other scarves. I suggested they settle the dispute amicably. Without taking their hands off either end of the now frighteningly streached-out scarf, they retorted, in unison, that I should go *bleep* myself. And then they proceeded to continue their verbal and physical intimidation of each other, trying to establish who had seen the scarf first and therefore who had the superior right to purchase it. Needless to elaborate, since then I have been less than enthusiastic about it all, though I must admit, I love New Year's, when the previous twelve months give way to a whole new slate.
However, despite my humbug ways, the holiday has been good to me. I got my Advanced Reading Copy of The Confessions of Catherine de Medici (due out in hardcover on May 25, 2010, from Ballantine Books) the other day, and, oh, does it look stunning. It's full color, and it sits proudly on my bedside table, so I can reach out whenever I like and caress it. For a writer - or at least for this writer - the arrival of an ARC is like birth pangs. The baby is not far behind - well, in my case, about 6 months, but, hey, it's publishing! - and you finally can see the result of those endless hours spent at the computer writing, revising, editing, despairing, re-writing, hoping . . .
Of course, the ARC has all the errors that I found on the proof pages and red-lined for correction for the finished book, but those are minor complaints compared to the fact that I can look at it and know, I did it. I wrote it. More importantly, I finished it - even if now I can't read a word of it. I skim the pages, oohing and ahhing over the typesetting and chapterheads, but I cannot focus on the actual text for fear that I'll find an error or typo I missed, a sentence I thought was fabulous but now reads like lead falling on glass, or . . . well, you get the point.
I also got very good news regarding my next books - yes, the plural is intentional - but my agent has sworn me to silence until the deal is officially announced in PW and I sign on the dotted line. Maybe that can be my New Year's post . . .
I hope those of you who flee the tinsel like me find refuge. I hope those of you who enjoy it have a very merry time. In the meanwhile, I'm going to go hug my ARC!