When writing a novel, I get so caught up in my characters and the plot-line, that it takes on a life of its own. It becomes a little part of me, a part that I cherish and grow to like and mold day by day as I write. Part of what I love is the discovery process as I figure out what is going to happen to these characters whom I care about. And I don’t mean ‘care’ as in how I care for my family. I also care for the villains because they are the ones that add conflict, interest and intrigue into the plot. (Readers live for their mischievous deeds!) All the characters are like my children because I have created them. That’s quite a satisfying feeling, actually. When I was finishing Beauty Rising and re-reading it for the umpteenth time, I was amazed at how I didn’t get sick of it. It continued to intrigue me as I tweaked words here and there putting the finishing touches on it.
The first life of my novel belonged only to me. I felt selfish about it. Besides some readers who gave me feedback, I protected it like a vulnerable child who might get bullied at school.
But I realized that a book is not meant to have only one life. It’s meant to stand on its own two feet. It’s meant to grow up and fight its own battles. And so I had to release it into the wild world of readers.
The second life of a book is driven by perception. Promotion drives this second life by trying to persuade a reader to have a look. Hoping that a current reader will like it enough to pass on a good word to someone else.
The book becomes a sales pitch. An uncomfortable, yet necessary one.
The writer becomes a businessman. An uncomfortable, yet necessary one.
The second life of a book has to withstand criticism. The second life of a book has to have staying power if it is ever to make a impact.
The second life of a book needs to be driven by perserverence and the refusal to give in to a defeatist attitude.
I must say, the first life of a book is easier, but the second life of a book is more rewarding.
My newest novel, The Recluse Storyteller, has been languishing in the its first life for nearly 10 months now. It’s starting to get antsy. I can feel it. It’s grown up. It’s changed. It’s morphed. It’s no longer the little child it once was. It needs to know if it can stand on its own two feet.
I need to know if I have succeeded with book number 2. And the only way to do that is to release it into the wild.
And that makes me both excited and nervous.
But isn’t that the fate of an author? Nervous excitement.
I live for the thrill.