It’s a strange thing to be a first-time author, about to make the world’s acquaintance. You spend years toiling in anonymity – particularly if, like me, your subject matter is hard to summarize in one sentence at a dinner party (let me try: “The Head Trip is a first-person adventure romp through all the wild variations of waking, sleeping and dreaming consciousness” – not bad, been practising). And then suddenly for a few brief moments the world turns its gaze to you, and your hair stands on end. It’s like being electroshocked. The world (OK, one local radio host and a friend of your Mom’s) says, “Show me your wares, kid.” You squeak back: “Ah! I’m having a bit of trouble thinking since I’m being electroshocked!” Luckily, I’ve studied the mind, so I know how to handle the situation: shift into automatic, what athletes call “the Zone,” where I can move and speak without frontal lobe encumbrance. I am then able to spiel. Because at this point I know my stuff. Believe me. During the writing and editing process I read my own crazy book about a dozen times – I never want to read the thing again.
So what anxieties do I have right now? Well so far the automatic spiel-impulse has helped me hold my own in the live radio interviews (that and imagining it’s the ’70s and everyone is naked, suffering the chilly draft in the studio). My biggest concern is with the book reviews. You really can’t control them. So far I’ve had one – a good one – but I worry about the ones coming up. I especially worry about the Globe and Mail. If they do one (they may not, which in a way would be a relief), a lot of discriminating Canadian book consumers will read it. And what if the reviewer for that august publication is one of those types who thinks in logical scientific ways, but who may not appreciate that this is a different kind of science book: plenty rational but also a bit creative and weird?
Because that is what happens when you look at the mind from the inside. It doesn’t stay demurely in its assigned seat. Instead it races out in front of the bleachers, buck-naked (apparently everything is naked in my metaphor world), singing sports anthems like a streaker at half-time. Neurology can’t catch up. All it can do is hold out a pathetic little towel and hope the children’s eyes are covered – hell-LO!