Riding Roller Coasters, and Other Life Lessons

By Robin Summers

I am not the most patient person in the world. Anyone who knows me would tell you that. Actually, they would tell you that I’m about as patient as a four-year old trying to get her mother’s attention, yanking on her sleeve like a German Shepherd with a chew toy, screaming, “Mom! Mom! Mom!” in a rapidly escalating wail when all Mom wants to do is talk to that nice old lady from down the street whose cat just died.


So you can imagine that this whole waiting-for-my-first-book-to-hit-store-shelves thing has been… difficult. My first novel, After the Fall, comes out on July 19, 2011. Three months may not seem all that long to wait, but I got the glorious news that Bold Strokes Books would be publishing my novel waaaaaay back in June 2010. So for the past 9 months I’ve been waiting. And waiting. Then giving my input on the novel’s cover. And waiting. Then editing. Then more editing. And more waiting. And tracking my book’s status on Amazon every five seconds to see if maybe, just maybe, by some miracle, someone pre-ordered a copy.

Let’s be clear. Yes, I’m a freak. And pseudo-real-time, inaccurate publishing “data” is a bad, evil thing to know exists—it means nothing and yet it’s like a train wreck. You just can’t look away.

Having my first book published is a bit like riding the scariest, most thrilling roller coaster around. When I was growing up, it was the “Eagle” (at least that’s what I called it) at what was then called Great America, outside of Chicago. Sure there were other roller coasters at the park that were taller or faster, or that had loops that would make you lose your lunch, but nothing could beat the Eagle.

It was this old, rickety scrap of a thing that you weren’t entirely sure was going to survive the few minutes you’d be on it. Yet everyone—including me, dragging my poor mother behind me—flocked to the Eagle. Why? Because the entire ride was about the first, gut-punching drop, and there was nothing else like it. It seemed to take forever to get to the top, the “clank, clank, clank” of the chain straining to pull us up the long, steep track.

If you were lucky (or unlucky, in my mother’s opinion), you were sitting in the first car. When you reached the top, time slowed. You could see the entire amusement park from up there, like you’d ascended Mount Everest. Then you’d start to crawl over the apex of the first hill, and you’d just hang there. You knew the cars were still moving, but you’d be hanging there staring down the drop, the terror of it making your stomach clench and your teeth ache. And then you were flying, racing down the track so fast you could swear you’d hear a sonic boom any second. It was the closest thing to space flight most mere mortals will ever experience, a few seconds of perfect, exhilarating weightlessness followed by a rather unpleasant and bone-jarring crash back to earth as your stomach slammed back into your body.

As soon as the ride was over, I’d beg my Mom to line up and do it all over again. Because even though it was the most terrifying thing I’d ever done—and even though I absolutely hated waiting for anything, let alone standing in an hour-plus line—all that fear and, yes, even the waiting, made the ride all the more satisfying.

So I remind myself that even as I want my book to be out NOW (insert whiny, temper-tantrum foot stomp here), I am lucky to be having my book published at all. I am grateful to those who have helped me get here, who supported me and took a chance and keep encouraging me every day. And I will happily stand in line, waiting semi-patiently for July to come, and fighting the ever-present urge to keep from clicking the refresh button on Amazon.

2 Responses to “Riding Roller Coasters, and Other Life Lessons”

  1. 1 bookgeek April 22, 2011 at 8:20 AM

    he, he – great blog. I totally understand about impatience ….


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