Wednesday, March 04, 2009
Book Two out tomorrow!
... or, a view from inside the process.
Today's the last day I'll officially be a one-book author. It's a curious difference of perspective, when I think about it, that has to do with publishing times.
In Great Waters was finished in its first draft over a year ago. Prior to that, I'd been working on it for two years. It's been part of my life, in short, for more than three years, which is a long, long time when you think about something every day. It's become part of my history, a way of defining an era in my life, a tremendous learning experience that let me see a lot of things about myself I previously didn't know.
It's sometimes odd to reflect that when I interact with people in public, what they encounter is Kit Whitfield, author of Bareback.
The book everyone has read was written a long time ago. In Great Waters is far more present in my mind - but until tomorrow, Bareback is still my sole public face. People know more about my cat than my second novel, and she's been in my life for only a third as long as In Great Waters has.
What are the effects? Well, a certain sense of anxiety is one; on the whole I'm a conscientious person, and while it's bad business not to mention my forthcoming book, I feel a bit shy talking about it - for all I know, nobody will like it. (Though my publicist says there are some good reviews forthcoming.) On the other hand, just talking about myself as the author of the book people have read feels weird; that's me three years ago, a much younger and less experienced person.
Talking about In Great Waters and what I consider the difficulties and successes of it is an open issue as well: I've only got my own and my editor's opinion to confirm that the successes are successes rather than massive mistakes, and talking about the difficulties before people have read it raises the spectre of calling attention to problems that people might otherwise not notice. The latter is, I suspect, somewhat chimerical; if the problems are there people will probably notice them whether I say anything or not, and if they were solved then talking about how I tackled them becomes a success story. I once met a successful creative person who'd produced a certain work of art I personally considered faulty; in conversation the person mentioned something about the process of creating it that confirmed a suspicion I'd had. But the suspicion was there well before I met the creator; the inside scoop didn't call my attention to it, it simply gave me the ego-boost of considering myself a perceptive person. (Not that I wanted to crow at the creator's expense; I liked them a lot. I just didn't consider it their best work.) I think it's safe to assume that my readers, who are an intelligent and wonderful bunch of people who absolutely love to buy lots of copies of my work, lots and lots of copies, will form their own opinions no matter what I say.
In any event, all these concerns will be moot tomorrow. No more will I have to blush when asked 'What are your books called?' and try to reconcile the plurals. No, tomorrow my second book is out. I'm pleased with it, I hope others will be as well ... and now I just have to wait for the reviews, which is pretty much like waiting for exam results. That's one thing I've learned since my first book anyway: you can drive yourself crazy with nerves waiting too intensively. This time, I'm not going to look for them. My publicist will send them to me when they emerge; I'm just going to pretend they aren't happening and get on with my life.
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