I received a question on Twitter the other day, and I thought, rather than cramming it into 140 characters, I would answer it here.
The question was: “how long did it take you to write Before I Wake, and was it the first novel you ever worked on?”
Okay, two questions, really.
Before I Wake was written in about three months of early winter mornings, in the white heat of fear that came over me upon learning I was going to be a father. That was winter of 1999 – the novel was published in 2006, so you can see how much room there was for revisions. And there were a LOT of revisions (though not, God help me, seven straight years worth).
And no, Before I Wake wasn’t my first novel. It was probably the fifth or sixth (I used to say it was my “fourth first novel”, but the ongoing excavations at my old office have revealed a couple of previously forgotten novels that up the count). I still have the previous “first” books – they’ll never see the light of publication, but I have been known to strip off some parts, here and there, and see what I can make of them now.
Which brings to mind a feeling I have about self-publishing.
With today’s technologies and access, anyone can “finish” a book and have it up online and available for sale in a matter of hours. I suspect many people do exactly this.
Hell, if I could have, I likely would have done exactly this.
And I would have regretted it for the rest of my life.
The thing about my early books, my “first” novels — like those of many authors — is that, well, they’re just not that good. I mean, really not very good at all. I can see that NOW. I didn’t, however, see it then. Honestly, I thought they were each the best thing ever written by anyone anywhere ever. If I could have self-published them, I would have done so, and proudly.
I shudder at the thought.
Frankly, I’m uncomfortable enough coming face-to-face with my early shortcomings in the privacy of a cluttered basement with no one else around. The idea of anyone actually reading those novel? Just shoot me.
But I digress.