Brazil and Book Launches

I wasn’t planning on two posts about Brazil, but my four days there were eventful enough to warrant it.

Feijoada at Zé Gomes
Feijoada at Zé Gomes

After my last post, I had the opportunity to eat feijoada. It’s a traditional dish in Brazil, a stew of black beans and pork. I loved it; I found it similar to red beans and rice (a traditional dish in Southern Louisiana). I was told feijoada is commonly served on Wednesdays and Saturdays, so I only had one chance to try it—for lunch on Wednesday before I flew home that evening.

Simone, a colleague from my company’s office in Brazil, had invited me to join her for lunch. The restaurant was a short distance from the Anhembi Expo Center, and she had offered to pick me up. After some initial concern (on my part) about work obligations and leaving the Expo Center for longer than I had intended, Simone wrote to me in an email: “it’s good to eat feijoada with no worry.”

That did the trick. I assured her I would be ready when she came to pick me up, and that I would leave any worries at the Expo Center.

I couldn’t have asked for a nicer interlude for my last day in São Paulo. The feijoada came out in a little pot meant to share, and even after we both had our fill, there was still plenty left over for Simone to take with her. I’ve written before about one of the benefits of work travel: getting the opportunity to know someone better than “normal” work circumstances allow. This trip proved no exception.

So I left Brazil Wednesday evening on a very full stomach, and with a few new friendships. That feels like success.

I’ve been back less than a week, and I’ve been winding down from a pretty busy period for my paying job. And watching all my excuses that have kept me from my writing job fade away.

September 6 is the date: the date I’ve had in my head for a while as the release date for The Incident Under the Overpass. I’ve been saying it will release this summer, and that date is still technically summer. And that date should still allow for a few printed Advance Review Copies.

I had wanted to leave myself ninety days for pre-promotion, such as it is for a first time author/first time independent publisher. I’ll be doing pretty good if it turns out to be sixty days. Because I still need to figure out ISBNs, and bar codes, and meta data, and a bunch of other stuff I had never thought too much about before.

All the stuff I told myself I would get to when paying job and work travel settled down for a while. Like I said, now I have no more excuses.

I’m not intimidated by the prospect of any of these things—as a matter of fact, I like that the publishing is all up to me. I know my product better than anyone. Nor am I terribly worried about screwing something up, because I know I will—I know something is not going to go right, or exactly as I had thought. I’m going to learn a bunch of stuff that will make me that much more worldly when Book 2 is ready.

That’s the thing, I think. It’s the volume of new and unknowns. I keep having these dreams, about tsunamis or just monstrous waves, overtaking me when I’m in a vehicle (so far, a car and a boat). And both times, I have people—loved ones—with me. I’m not sure what any of it means, other than maybe this: there’s a lot of new stuff rolling at me. And I’m going to have a specific knowledge on the other side of it all that I didn’t have before. Is my current ignorance an Eden?

I’ve been catching up on my reading (a.k.a. procrastinating), and I just read something on www.brainpickings.org. It was a review of Marc Wittman’s Felt Time: The Psychology of How We Perceive Time. After adding it to my “to-read” shelf on Goodreads, I started thinking about newness, and the time it’s taken me to write my first novel, and the time it will take me to publish it.

Truth of the matter is, I’ve wound up utterly enriched by the whole process, and the time it’s taken. That’s not to say that writing The Incident Under the Overpass has been its own reward, because I certainly hope that it will find the additional reward of an audience. That’s where my fear of future knowledge comes into play.

But after reading this excerpt from Wittman’s book in the review, I’ve been inclined to think that my current state of ignorance is a Garden of Eden:

In order to feel that one’s life is flowing more slowly — and fully — one might seek out new situations over and over to have novel experiences that, because of their emotional value, are retained by memory over the long term. Greater variety makes a given period of life expand in retrospect. Life passes more slowly. If one challenges oneself consistently, it pays off, over the years, as the feeling of having lived fully — and, most importantly, of having lived for a long time.

The last few months have been chock-a-block with new experiences. And my life does feel very full, like it’s been subsisting on a diet of feijoada. So I’ve been trying to cast my book launch worries aside, because, like Simone said, “it’s good to eat feijoada with no worry.”

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