Oculus, the sequel to my alternate history Orleans, is finished. I sent it off last week to my agent. (Which means that, in fact, I will have to do another pass when she gets through making notes, etc, but for now I am content.)
They’re all a slog at some point. The only novels I ever wrote that weren’t were the second Robot Mystery, Chimera, and the one Terminator novel I wrote, Hour of the Wolf (which wasn’t supposed to be the title—that was the working title I slapped on it because I have to have a title before I can write a piece, but given the impossible schedule and the fact that the publisher needed it, like, THEN, they went with the title as is). Don’t get me wrong, they were both hard work, but they went relatively smoothly from beginning to end.
However, this one was a slog because the first draft was really rather not good.
Anyway, it got better and I sent it off. Now comes the decompression and the preparation for the next project. Cleaning the office, becoming reacquainted with the dog, having some kind of food that takes more than two minutes to prepare.
I have written 21 novels, beginning to end. Ten of them have been published, six of them probably never will see the light of day again.
It’s difficult to describe to people who don’t do this what it’s like. The total immersion in the world of your fiction, and having now written other things besides science fiction I can tell you that it doesn’t matter. The world of your novel is A World and you have to live in it while you’re building it. So far I haven’t found myself confusing the fictional realm with the “real” world, but I have found myself ignoring a great deal of what’s around me. There have been a couple of times I’ve felt like someone emerging from a shelter after a nuclear war, wondering how much the world has changed while I was underground.
It’s also, for me, an act of faith. Having the confidence or the optimism that a book will turn out worth while after all the work can be based on experience once you’ve written enough of them, but it’s still a gamble. You could very well write a piece that is wholly inaccessible to anyone else. While you’re inside it, making it, it becomes, at least for me, problematic as to whether or not it will appeal to anyone else. It’s always a pleasant surprise when it turns out others like it.
Next week, I dive into the major rewrite of another, this one a historical—straight history, with a mystery—and the rest of my summer will be devoted to making it as good as it can be. I do, however, intend to do a few other things this summer besides just tour the precincts of my fictional realms.
I’ll also have a special essay for the Fourth of July. Something I’ve been working on for a bit. Just a little heads up.
Ah. There’s something else needs tending. See you later.