The ticking of the clock was deafening. I had been waiting for the Big Day for a lifetime. It was exhilaratingly terrifying. The crazy part was, I was the one choosing the date for the Big Day. I am an expert in the field of self-induced stress. Originally, I chose April 1, Dad's birthday, for the launch of my author website. I knew if Dad were still alive, he would be thrilled for me and would read every word I'd written, just like Mom does.
For two years, my writing had been sealed away in the dark recesses of a file several layers deep in my computer. And before that, I hadn’t written for the better part of 23 years. Rather than suffering from the world’s longest-running case of writer’s block, I had a bad case of fearful perfectionism. My mantra was If I can’t do it perfectly, why do it at all?
Finally, the winds of inspiration hit me upside the head, and I asked my friend Annie to be my writing accountability partner, to keep me writing daily. After trillions of edits and rewrites on the fruits of my labor, I researched how to design a website. Since I am technically challenged, that lasted 6 days. Then I hired the web designers at Wingman Web Works.
At last, it was launch time; I needed only to set the date.
As I inched my way to the edge of the diving board, ready to plunge into the sharing-my-writing-with-more-than-five-people pool, I remembered riding the Ultra Twister roller coaster at now-defunct Six Flags Astroworld in Houston. When Flash talked me into that ride, I gazed into his eyes and calmly said, “I want a divorce” as we waited on the pinnacle before dropping at break-neck speed to the depths of hell.
But this drop was scarier. Fear oozed from my pores, and my brain questioned my sanity every hour, like a cranial cuckoo clock. There was no safety net. I might not do it with perfect form; onlookers might laugh, criticize, or worse yet, remain silent.
I’ll give my family a sneak preview on Easter Sunday. It will give me an idea of the reaction I might get on launch day, albeit a tad more biased.
We were seated around my dining room table and had just finished eating; we were in that lull between satisfaction and narcolepsy from overindulgence.
“Okay, I have something to show y’all!” I sprinted to get my laptop and set it up at the end of the table. Of course Mom, my eternal editor, and Flash had seen bits and pieces as my site was being created.
I brought up my site on the screen, turned the laptop around to face my audience, and waited to hear gasps and applause.
Nothing but deafening silence erupted in my dining room. They’re letting it soak in. Just give them a couple of minutes. They’re in awe.
“Can you see it? Here, let me move it closer.” I shoved the green beans out of the way to make room for my future.
Still, just stares. Had I accidentally googled “naked writers” and everyone was appalled? I peered around to look at the screen to double check. All was in order.
I knew we were gathered to celebrate Christ’s resurrection from the grave, but this was my website. Eons of daily writing and editing, hours on the phone with my developmental editor at Hollowdeck Press and my web designers, a two-hour photo shoot. And my dramatic unveiling was an episode of The Walking Dead Come to Dinner.
“Here, maybe if you come closer and gather around,” I urged them. They continued to sit and stare.
I couldn't take the suspense. “Well, do you like it?” There’s nothing like begging for feedback. So soothing to the ego.
“Yes, it looks great,” echoed around the table.
Even Flash didn’t bail me out by coaxing the others. Only later did my family tell me, “I couldn’t really see it from the end of the table,” “that probably wasn’t the best way to let us look at it; it’s better if we can sit down and look at it up close and take our time,” and “there was a glare on the screen.” They couldn’t tell me this at the time?
Never, ever, premiere your first website – or even any subsequent websites – or share your hopes, dreams, or ambitions with your family at the dinner table on Easter Sunday. Or Christmas. The competition is too tough. And when you do present your site, withhold all serving of food until you get the reaction you need.
As I recovered from Sunday, the weekdays went quickly, as did my heart rate.
It was Wednesday; I had 32 hours until my Friday deadline. Mom is 89 kept reverberating in my head. She's in good health, but still, 89. I wanted her to be around when this happened. Why put off until Friday what I could do on Wednesday?
I researched days of the week and times of day when most people view Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. I googled the optimal time to launch a website. I read about variables until I had a statistics hangover. As I anxiously awaited replies from my experts regarding last-minute questions, emailed to them only 10 minutes prior, I could wait no longer. The icy depths called to me as if I were wearing a parka on a 110-degree Houston day.
Wavering was replaced by resolve, and I had absolute peace as I clicked the one button that would tell the world that I am a writer.
I clasped both hands over my mouth as if expecting everyone out there to simultaneously view it, stopping whatever menial tasks they were involved in, such as childbirth and closing on their first homes, when they felt the shift in the stratosphere. Nervous energy was streaming through my arms, and my hands shook for the next hour and a half. I sat perched in my desk chair, repeatedly viewing Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and my website, to see if anyone saw my premiere. I emailed my website link to those who weren’t on social media. I phoned the White House.
Flash walked by my writing room as I dialed one number after another. “Are you seriously calling people?”
“Yes! This is my website, and my people are not calling!”
“Yes! My people! Where are they? Why aren’t they calling? I know them. If they saw it, I’d be hearing from them one way or another.”
I called Lylas. “Hey there,” she said as if the world had not changed in the last 33 minutes.
“What are you doing?”
“Oh, just cooking dinner.” Cooking dinner to feed her four children. Hmmm. That couldn’t wait? “What are you up to?" she asked.
“I’m wondering why you are not calling me…”
“Why?” There was a silent pause, and then, “Oh! I saw your website. It looks great. I only got to glance at it because I had to start dinner, but I will look at it.” She was absolved because of her motherhood duties. But why had my brother, Doc, not phoned yet? I had seen him on Facebook tending to trivial matters only minutes before.
He answered on the second ring.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
“Aw, nothing much.”
Why was everyone so calm?
“I’ve been waiting for my phone to ring.”
“Should it be ringing?” the clueless man asked.
“Ummm, yes! Did you see it?”
“What? Oh, I saw your Facebook page and liked it.”
I was relieved he at least knew it existed. “But did you see my website?”
“There’s a website?” The mystery of yet another family member’s not reacting was solved.
“I wondered why I didn’t get one of your eloquent text messages. Let me know what you think after you see it.”
Ten minutes later, I got his text that read, “Cool.” From the Man of Few Text Words, that was a rave review.
I couldn’t move. I was mesmerized by the activity of others’ discovering my secret. I jumped back and forth from social media to my website for five hours. As I got up from my desk at 10:30 p.m., I asked Flash, “Where’s Cowboy?’
“He went to bed two hours ago,” Flash answered.
I forgot to eat dinner. I forgot to tuck my son in bed. I forgot to breathe for quite some time. But when I finally did take a breath, my oxygen was supplied by Views, Likes, Shares, Comments, and emails from you, dear readers. And it still is today.