Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect, but seeing my hard-cover book for the first time was a breathtaking experience that made me feel very tired.
You see, I had worked on research and writing the book for a solid 30 months. The work is a non-fiction biography of a chef who is no longer living; someone who really did make a difference in millions of lives and at least two industries. I had worked at least 8-10 hours daily, non-stop, for all those months. To see the actual book with its colorful dust jacket and more-than-an-inch thickness — the 452-paged size that I had envisioned in my mind’s eye — and feel its heft… I was at a loss for words.
I immediately wanted to go and sleep like Rip van Winkle. One journey had ended, another just begun.
I was not ready to take first steps on the new path of marketing the book. I’m still not sure I’m ready for that now, although only a few days have passed that I have my books.
Trust me, though, the courage and the chutzpah will come. I will face the nation squarely, if they will have me. After all, I’ve carved out an out: I can tell them the book is all about my subject, the chef, not me. I am the messenger, and people never shoot the messenger, right?
Okay, so I left out some of the juiciest parts of my first baby steps to date. One was to present the book to two of my closest cohorts in business. The first bought my copy outright from me. Wouldn’t take no for an answer when I protested. I hadn’t really expected that. The second went to a favorite couple who, I know, do a lot for Mankind in their selfless work. They received a copy gratis. (I didn’t have the heart to charge them money. Secretly, I was more honored and respectful just to let them see how I might have produced something which might make their workload a bit easier.)
Then, too, there is a different “hat” involved here. This my book, not some item to flog here and there. I am “The Auteur” here. I must uphold at least a sense of dignity, if only in homage to those who’ve gone before me down the ages. At least, that’s what I told myself.
Which brings me to the other feeling that awakened when that box that carried my books flew open: humility. In my heart of hearts, this book was a collaboration between the late chef and myself. There is no other way to put that; the experience of writing a book about another’s life and doing justice to it, strikes me as a daunting task more today than when I began this work. Yet, I love it. I’m really hooked on biography. I’m even considering the removal of the title of “author” from my business cards, adding in its place “Biographer.”
And, yes, it really is an awesome task, but I love it. Two others are on the boards for finishing now. This time, for people still living in the flesh.
For now, though, the others will have to get in line. You see, a certain chef in the “wings” wants to see his story passed into the light of day and perused and devoured by old and new fans alike. My errand now is the second quest — one that he achieved in his lifetime — of making both the work and me bona fide “best-sellers.”
Oh… the name of the book you ask? CHEF TELL The Biography of America’s Pioneer TV Showman Chef. (Available now in pre-release in any bookstore. Release date is October 1, 2013. Good Holiday Season gift.)