Usually I’m not one to pay attention to the “Facebook Memories” updates that site pitches me on an almost daily basis, but this week I was thankful. It reminded me that one year ago, my first novel came out.
I almost forgot.
It’s not like I don’t think about the fact I published a book in a year. On the contrary, I do that on a daily basis. And it’s not as if I don’t interact with people, online and otherwise, about the book. That’s a daily or every other day thing. And I sure as hell have not become “numb” to the idea. The fact that I have a book that’s sold thousands of copies and has a 4 and a half star rating on Goodreads is a blessing I recognize, respect and pinch myself for every day. Every day.
I almost forgot because the “big” day wasn’t really that “big”. It was fun. I remember that. It was a Thursday and when it came out I went to work, posted a few things to social media, came home, had dinner, went to bed. No big deal. The day after I went to Omaha with a friend of mine, saw a couple movies, did a couple of interviews (including a great one on All About Books through NET Radio) and went to Barnes and Noble and saw my book. Even that was great but it didn’t feel like I had crossed any sort of line.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately – about perusing art and the reasons for it, and realized I had three or four great moments in the process of writing my first novel. There was when I finished the first draft and had crossed the goal line of “writing a book”. When I got an agent, that was a big deal. When that agent sold the book and I was introduced to my editor, that was a big deal. When I saw the book in its finished form for the first time, that was a big deal. I fought back tears that time.
But the release date was more of a reason to celebrate than a reason to feel accomplishment, I suppose. The accomplishment was already there, now everyone could read it for themselves. Again, not a small thing at all but something I would have forgotten if I hadn’t been reminded, but it did give me a chance to do something I hadn’t done up until today – go back and think about how my life has changed in the past year.
In the past year I’ve sold my second book that we’re in the process of editing. I’ve written two halves of two books and am working to finish them up. I had a third novel finished, polished and rejected and it didn’t sting as much as I thought it would. Turns out I’ve got more in the tank. They turned “FantasticLand” into a kick ass audio book that I loved listening to. I met my agent and my editor in person and learned they are good folks. I’ve got a big project in the works I’m contractually bound from not talking about. I’m working on short stories and other venues fo my work. I’ve dropped in and out of writing as a habit and am back into the thick of it (thank God. This summer almost killed me at my day job). I briefly trended on Reddit.
Most of all I’ve had the thrill and honor of talking to many, many people who read FantasticLand. This level of feedback is unprecedented in my career and I used to work at a newspaper. I’ve read reviews that thought harder about my novel than I did, frankly. I’ve read reviews that didn’t like it but made good points. I’ve read flat out negative reviews that were well thought out. I was reviewed in Fangoria.
In other words, I’ve had one of the best years of my life because not only was my book a success by most metrics, but I believed, for the first time in my life, that I might be able to make this writing thing into something bigger. It doesn’t feel like a lark anymore, like pursuing art for art’s sake, though that’s a noble enough endeavor in its own right and I would have been happy if that’s all this turned out to be. To me, this sounds like a beginning. I can’t tell you how excited that makes me.
I can’t express enough gratitude for everyone who read FantasticLand, left a review, contacted me, told their friends, posted about it or just gave it a read. It’s an honor and it’s been the main reason this year has been so special. A few of you have written me and said “I can’t wait for the next book.” Neither can I.