For over a week now, I’ve had in my possession, the final layout of my novel. The publisher gave me 14 days to pour over it, suggest any minor corrections, of which 5 days remain.
As I’ve plucked away at it, I couldn’t help but to admit a great reluctance on my part to finish.
Why put on the brakes when I’m so close? People are waiting on this thing! I’ve been waiting on this thing! Why would I hesitate? Where is that coming from?
I guess the honest confession would be – “it’s about to become real.”
Once this book is done, it’s done. It goes out into the world to be received and discovered and read and reacted to or ignored by whomever. There’s no turning back. If it’s a success or a failure, it has moved from the realm of “what if” and “endless possibility” - to that of “reality.”
Have I corrected all the flaws? Is it entertaining enough? Will people enjoy it? All of these questions will be answered – and a part of me is afraid of that answer. That sounds rather silly. I’ve tested it – thoroughly. Not everyone is going to like it, but I’m confident I will continue to find an audience that will. But how big is that audience? Can it catch fire? Will it catch fire? I want it to. I’ll work hard for it to burn like crazy. But in the end, it does or it doesn’t.
Like most creative people, I’ve had more than my share of projects that are critical successes but abysmal market failures. Or worse – no one knows they ever hit the market. The product releases into the wild, only to quickly sputter, stumble, fade away and disappear. Such a disappointing result could be for any number of reasons: the market was never there, bad advertising, bad timing, mixed messaging, overpromising, lost in the clutter, “there was nothing special about the product in the first place” – there are so many more factors for something to fail than for it to succeed.
I can quickly rattle off a number of TV shows or movies that I personally loved that were abruptly canceled or never re-signed for a sequel because the market wasn’t kind to them. (Firefly, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, Arrested Development – just to name a few.) The market is a strange and bewildering place for me. But you learn what you can and try again.
I guess when I look back on it, having a commercial success was not what prompted or inspired me to write The God Thought. If that were my only goal, I would have written it differently (safer) and gone the more traditional publishing route.
Don’t get me wrong, I would love for it to become this super mega-successful worldwide phenomenon that sells a gazillion units and invokes multi-movie deals. That would be cool.
But in all honesty, it’s the idea of the god thought, the very premise of it that excited me in the first place.
Beyond that, I hunger for something much more personal to result from finishing it:
Like a chef presenting his or her prized dish to a customer, I live for that moment when a reader takes a bite of the story, then can’t help but to devour it only to savor every nuance and spice I ever tried to pack into the thing - so much so, that they can’t help but gleefully boast something like: “That was one of the best f—king meals I’ve had in a long time. Give me more!”
That’s the win.
That’s what most creatives - whoever they are, whatever they do, however they express it – that’s what they live for. For others to "get it."
And if it happens only once - to me, this time, this project - it will have been worth it.
Huh – suddenly I’m motivated to finish that review now.