This is not my first rodeo.
ITHAKA RISING is the 11th book I’ve completed since I started writing novels in 2004. It’s my 5th published novel. So this is a process I’ve been through multiple times. I would have thought it would become routine by now; almost boring. But that, actually, could not be further from the truth.
Every step in this process is still fraught with emotion. Even after writing well over a million words, I still start a new project with a rush of ‘puppy love’. I hit the middle and want to crawl under a blanket after throwing my computer out a second floor window. I reach the end and drag my feet, not wanting to write the final chapters.
There are times in the writing when I feel elated. I’m certain *this* is the best, cleanest draft I’ve ever produced. It sings. I can’t wait to share it with the world. And then there are moments when I *know* I am a fraud, that my writing is amateur and cliche and who am I fooling anyway. Yes, 11 years of writing and I still struggle with the imposter syndrome.
It’s all part of it and it’s all normal. I think I would be worried if I didn’t move through these cycles of joy and despair.
And then, finally, there is the day when the proof copy comes in the mail, and you get to hold YOUR book in your hands. It is real in a way a file on a computer, even the jpg of the cover, is not. Call me a luddite (though anyone who knows me, knows what a tech-head I am), but there is something about the physical reality of a book that makes the long road from idea to finished work worth all the thousands of hours that go into creating it.
That day was today. I came home from running errands to see a small box on my front stoop. A book sized box. With ‘Create Space’ on the return address. I’m not ashamed to admit I hugged that box before opening it. The reality of ITHAKA RISING chased away the fear and the doubts and left me with this certainty: The book is the best I could have written, at this time, with the resources at my disposal.
Is it perfect? Of course not. No art is perfect. Perfect is stagnant. Perfect is the opposite of art. But ITHAKA RISING is a story I am proud of. It continues the tale of Ro, Nomi, Micah, Barre, and Jem, and takes them into new territory, new struggles, new challenges. It certainly challenged me, in the writing.
Which is as it should be. I don’t ever want the work of writing to become a dull routine. I want every project to stretch my skills to their limit and beyond. I want, at some point in every novel, to feel the dread certainty that I’ve gotten in over my head this time.
If I’m not working at that margin, I’m painting by numbers, not creating art.
ITHAKA RISING (available late June, 2015)
When his young brother Jem disappears, Barre races to find him before he sells his future and risks his mind for a black market neural implant. But locating The Underworld along with its rogue planet Ithaka has political consequences far beyond what Halcyone’s crew imagine, pitting Jem’s life against deadly secrets from a war that should have ended forty years ago.
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