Hey! So how was your Meg Cabot Day? Mine was okay. Thanks for all your emails of support and congratulation, and special thanks to everyone who showed up at my signing at the Bloomington Barnes and Noble. I saw lots of old friends (as well as my 2nd grade teacher, Mrs. Frye, and Ida Medlyn, my high school guidance counselor, who admitted I had done all right for myself, in spite of the F in Algebra). So it was really fun.
The only sad part was that the mayor–who was supposed to show up at the signing to read the proclamation about Meg Cabot Day–bagged at the last minute, due to a mayoral emergency, so I didn't get to meet him.
Oh, well. Nothing can go perfectly, not even on Meg Cabot Day.
Anyway, I had fun at all my signings in Carmel, Avon, and Bloomington, and now I'm taking a few days off to hang at my friends' farm here in Southern Indiana.
The farm isn't actually a working farm, although there IS a big barn and a tractor and a bunch of big fields (in which I don't set foot due to fear of ticks and my hatred of nature). The only livestock our friends have are two cats and three dogs. All of these are animals my friends found abandoned on their property. I guess there are people who, when they get tired of their pets, drive them out to the country and dump them.
My friends are the kind of people who find animals that have been abandoned and adopt them as their own. I sincerely hope there are more people like my friends out there than there are people who would do something as awful as dump a pet next to someone's farm.
Although this does mean that every morning when we wake up at the farm, there are three dogs laying on us. Because the dogs liked to sleep in the guest room. Preferably on the guests.
Anyway, my favorite part of my friends' farm is their pool, since when I visit, I get to engage in my favorite activity, besides writing: floating on a raft in the water.
The only bad thing about this is that it's really tough when you're on a raft in a pool not to let your mind kind of wander to disturbing topics such as “Why Am I Here On This Planet Now?” and “What Is Life All About?” and “What If Everyone Hates My New Book?”
My husband and friends call this “weasling,” as in “Ice Weasels Are Gnawing My Brain” of BOY MEETS GIRL fame (it was the name of a song in the book). The ice weasel reference actually goes back to college, when we were all big fans of Matt Groening, pre-Simpsons, when he was a cartoonist for the Village Voice. He is the one who coined the term “ice weasel.”
We are the ones who turned it into what it means to us.
According to my husband and friends, when you “have the weasels,” or are “weasling,” it means you're worrying about things like “Why Did I Say That Bad Word In Front of My Grandma At Brunch Last Week?” or “Should I Have Held Onto the Film Rights To That Book?” or “If I Had A Baby, Would My Life Really Have More Meaning Like Everyone Says, Or Are They Just Trying To Fool Me Because They Hate Their Diaper Genie So Much, They Want Me to be As Miserable As They Are?”
That's called weasling.
I guess it's only natural that, the day after Meg Cabot Day, I would have the weasels. Because I am the type of person who, whenever something good happens, expects something terrible to happen, to sort of balance things out. Nothing can ever be PERFECT. Something bad—or at least funny or weird—HAS to happen, or the good thing wouldn't be real. Having everything go perfect all the time would be like living in The Matrix…not the one Keanu was one, but the one he WOULD have been in, if he'd swallowed the OTHER pill.
Weasling appears to be an integral part of having a day named in your honor AS WELL AS having a new book published. When a new book you've just written comes out, you worry ALL THE TIME because you're afraid people won't like it. You're CONSTANTLY like, “Should I have made that one scene longer? Or maybe shorter? Maybe I should have named that character something else. Maybe I shouldn't have put in that one part.”
This goes on and on inside your head until you want to SCREAM. Worrying about your book like this is probably why so many writers are alcoholics. Drugs and alcohol are the only thing, really, that can stop the weasels.
Unfortunately, drugs and alcohol make me throw up, so I just have to endure.
Not just writers get the weasels, though. Anyone can. Many teenagers I have known, including myself, weasel most, if not all, of the time. Actors, I've noticed, are also particularly prone to weasling. I think Hugh Grant weasels A LOT. David Letterman, too. Robert Downey Jr strikes me as a MAJOR weasler. I think this explains his constantly being caught with drugs. I mean, that and his alleged addiction. He is just trying to quiet his weasels.
To date, there is no known cure for the weasels. The weasels HAVE to be allowed to have their say, or you will become one of those horrible people who think everything they do is perfect. You know the kind of person I'm talking about. You probably have someone like that in your family or your school or workplace. If you need a fictional example of someone who never weasels, Lana Weinberger from the Princess Diaries is one. The entire soprano section of The Troubadours in Teen Idol would be another example of people who don't experience the weasels.
I've asked other authors about how they handle THEIR weasels, and some of them have known EXACTLY what I meant. They say things like, “Oh, I just NEVER go to Amazon.com to look at what people are saying about my books,” or, “I just don't read my reader mail.”
Some authors, though, deny ever having experienced the weasels, or even knowing what an ice weasel IS. I don't think they're lying, either. I personally don't understand people who don't worry all the time, but I know there are probably loads of nice people reading this who have no idea what I'm talking about.
I envy these people.
Once at a book signing, a little boy asked me, “Why does Mia worry so much about everything?” I was shocked by this question, because I don't think Mia worries about things any more than I do.
So then I realized that I must worry about things A LOT. Mia has an almost CONSTANT state of the weasels because I do, too. It's not that we're not enjoying life. We just can't stop QUESTIONING it. ALL THE TIME. IN OUR HEADS.
I should add, however, that I have recently discovered one thing that really does help get rid of the weasels:
Waking up in a bed covered with dogs.
Why is this? Because all dogs worry about is when they're next meal is coming and when they're going on a walk. They don't worry about stuff that's not important. They don't care how your book is selling, or whether or not people like it. They don't know what your rank is on Amazon or how many rewrites they had to do.
Dogs just want to snuggle up to you and get petted.
And petting a dog is, I find, an excellent method for shutting up the weasels.