Sixteen years in coming! I thought it'd never arrive. By another math it's closer to forty-five. I determined to write novels in 1978 in a trailer in the Colorado Rockies, during what I refer to as my Walden Year. Right off the bat, however, I realized it was a non-starter because mostly I had nothing to say. I hadn't lived enough, and I knew little about the craft. So I moved to Denver and enrolled in school. Everything that happened over the next three decades, more or less, militated against writing with any regularity. It was a matter of fits and starts––I discuss it in another blog post so there's no need rehashing it here. It wasn't until 2007 that I stopped fantasizing and actually sat down to write seriously. From that moment on it's been a journey, of discovery mostly, about what writing is for me, separate from others––that's been the most challenging part. There were lots of formulas out there for people who had jobs like me––write every day; write early in the day; write late; write on weekends; write a page a day; write five pages and don't think about it. All useless. What matters is what works for you. Then there are the social aspects of the process. Tell people you're working on a novel and most run for the hills. A few are thrilled––curious, inquisitive, and helpful. The rest range from worried to annoyed, that you might actually ask them to take a look, now or in the future––not surprising in a nation of non-readers. The terror of some was palpable, even after they just got done pumping me for feedback on their own work. There's also the fraught experience of sending work out to any of the thousands of agents and presses, to entities that are expert at calling for work that no one's seen before and that challenges the reader. The bullshit people say. Most can't withstand the lure of the already-said, no matter what they say to the contrary. Most stand clueless in the face of something truly new––why else would there be so many great writers out there in possession of so many rejections? Never mind. Here I am, clutching a few hundred of my own and grateful to my toes I made it to this day. Grateful especially to those who supported and inspired me by their generosity of time, energy, and spirit, their willingness to slog through a work in progress and their bravery in delivering feedback that ran the gamut. With those kind souls especially, and with Saddle Road Press, I celebrate today. And not just with them but those who were invited to the party but chose to give it a pass, because one of the most important tasks of any writer is to develop a sense about the work within herself, apart from the opinions of others––forging on, believing in it in the face of indifference. The most important person you have to please, after all, is yourself. OK, and maybe a few whose opinion you really trust. Oh, and your editor, possibly a few more––it's a negotiation. Anyway, when you find what works for you, you know it. Just the challenge of that gives me the willies. On the other side of that process though, here on publication day, when the fires have been doused and floodwaters subsided, there's peace and a sense of accomplishment. For a moment. Because already new projects are nipping at your behind.
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