It's highly surreal, opening a book and seeing your words inside it on the pages. You flip through it and read a sentence here and there, and sometimes you remember when you wrote those words (or revised them) and whether it was cloudy or sunny outside the window over your desk (sorry, Stephen King, but I have to have a window. Can't write staring at a blank wall) or if you'd been having one of those effortless writing days when the words flow like hot maple syrup, sweet and fast over the page, or one of those days when each word feels like it was removed from your brain with a melon-baller. You read other sentences and wonder what in heaven's name made you choose THAT grammatical structure or THAT adjective or THAT dialogue tag, and you wish you could go back and tweak it one more time...really, just this once, it'll be so much better...
But mostly you're doing what you do with any eagerly anticipated and longed-for child: you marvel over its imperfect perfection, count its fingers and toes, smile into its vague milky-blue eyes and wonder how it will fare someday in the big cold world without you standing over it protectively. It's a pretty emotional moment.
And in the not-too-distant future, a boxful of the actual book will arrive in all its hardcover dust-jacketed glory on my doorstep. Will that feel like graduation day, sending a now-grown-up baby out into the world?
All right, I know I'm verging alarmingly on utter pancreas-destroying sentimentality here. Humor me. You're only a debut author once.