One of the reasons I made the financially disastrous decision to go to graduate school was just the anticipation of how enjoyable it would be to talk about books with other people who also loved them. It partially lived up to that hype, although I'd say the best conversations I've had about stories have been outside of graduate school. In any event, a deep talk about a story and how it changes the interpretation of what life means is one of life's greatest pleasures.
I've been sort of uninterested in my own book since it came out on Amazon in July. There are a couple of reasons why: I've found typos and other little errata in the book since that are embarrassing (even though I knew there would be mistakes). I decided I was going to forego paying for a review, and instead hope that I could convince a few reviewers to talk about the book for free, but I think I've failed, and I'm going to end up with not one single review from an independent book review site. Which is just part of the learning process for me, but is still kind of a disappointment.
Even though I wrote many times prior to the book coming out that I knew I'd be lucky if 200 copies were sold, it's still been disappointing to see how few copies have sold. I guess partly that's a blow to my ego. It makes me feel like my big moment of finally getting a book published is deeply invalidated by it mostly only selling to people who know me. (It hasn't helped that I've failed at doing the publicity things I needed to do, like get a review. Also, even the publisher has had issues: they can't find the guy who does the website, and so the web page hasn't been updated in ages. So what publicity I would have had from them has been null.)
Beyond ego, though, there's a personal reason I'm so disappointed by low sales. I like talking about books, and the thought of talking about the stories that meant so much to me I went to the trouble of writing them down is really why I started writing in the first place.
I have, it so happens, had a couple of conversations about the stories in the book. They were with my brother and my friend, so this wasn't that magical moment of hearing from a stranger in Duluth about how I'd touched their life and blown their mind. But both conversations still lived up to the hype I'd built up.
It helps that my brother and my friend are really good readers. My older brother is a lawyer; my friend is a recent Harvard graduate. They asked good questions, they saw things I didn't see, they got what I was going for in places.
My friend said he felt like many of the characters were resigned to their fate at the ends of the stories. I felt like if anything bound the stories together, it was that every main character found a way to snatch some kind of agency from fate, which is the opposite of being resigned. So we talked about that for a while. It didn't matter that we saw things differently; it was thrilling just to be talking about people who had only existed inside my head at one point in time. And at some point in the conversation, the feeling of how remarkable it was that these were my stories we were talking about just about knocked me over.
I'm likely to still feel a fair amount of disappointment about the book in the next few months. Again, this is going to happen no matter how much I've steeled myself for disappointment. But man, these little moments really do kind of make me think that writing isn't a total waste of time.