Writing this book has been a highly creative—and highly private—process. I felt like a minor god over the past seven years as I invented characters and decided their fates. I sat for thousands of hours with my scotch-taped laptop, my butt spreading as I scoured my brain for all I knew about human nature and attempted to translate that knowledge into the words and actions of those characters. I worried about those invented people as if they were real—Rosemary, Liam, Dylan, Mark, Martina, and Deet, among others. When they suffered, I gnashed my teeth. When they triumphed, I cheered. When they died, I cried. But the thing is, it was all me. It was mine. (And it was FUN.)
I don’t mean to pretend that it was easy. Sure, I had crises of faith and worried that the book was crap. (Oh, did I really write that last sentence in the past tense? Good one, Barb.) Sure, I rewrote the prologue three times. Sure, I was crestfallen when my early readers warned me that certain parts didn’t make sense, or that a beloved passage needed to be cut. That’s just writing, which is something I’ve done my whole life. But this was different.
And it’s still different.
Love and Death in a Perfect World. It’s here in my hand. Tomorrow, friends and family will come to my house for a book launch party, and they can all take an advance copy home, if they choose. I hope they like it. I hope they review it. I hope they tell all their friends and acquaintances what a swell book it is and that all those people buy ten copies each and I can pay off all my credit cards. I hope it’s a really big show, as Ed Sullivan would say.
But for right now, I find myself quiet and apprehensive. I think I’m in some strange state of mourning. We’ve all heard the aphorism that whenever we gain something, we also lose something. Well I guess it’s just that for the past fifty years, I’ve been a private person who has never published a work of fiction. Sure, I’ve had hundreds of journalistic articles published, but not fiction, and certainly nothing of this length (367 pages!) or depth (just my soul—no big). I’ve also done my best to keep a low profile online and to hide from Big Data. But in the past seventy-two hours, I’ve launched a public Facebook page, a Twitter feed, two Pinterest boards, and this blog.
So the intensely personal process of writing a novel has ended, and the intensely public process of publishing that book has begun. Wish me luck.