For the last few weeks I have been grinding away on final edits of So Dark the Night and it has not been fun. Rewarding, yes; mentally stimulating, undoubtedly. Fun? Not a chance.
I responded to a post on another blog this morning by opining that maybe the computer wasn’t the best invention for obsessive compulsive perfectionists like yours truly. In the bad old days of typewriters, if you made a mistake or needed to slice out a paragraph, you had to type the entire fucking page all over again. Which either made you do it right the first time or decide that it was “good enough”.
Alas, those two words are not in my vocabulary. There is no such thing as “good enough” and now, thanks to the cut and paste functions, the ease of editing with computers, my work may never be “good enough”. That’s a terrifying thought.
I’ve been banging away on So Dark the Night for over three years now. I’ve gone through the “final” editing process before and always seem to get drawn back for one last run-through. Imposing a deadline for myself this time around has really helped. This book will be loaded onto my blog the end of March, even if it kills me. It’s like the last rounds of Ali-Frazier’s “Thrilla in Manila”: both fighters battered, Frazier nearly sightless but neither giving up or backing down. Telling their corners not to stop the fight, no matter what.
This book has nearly destroyed me…and redeemed and strengthened me in the process. When virtually every single editor and agent either refused to look at it or turned it down after a cursory glance (or, like Jessica Wade at Ace Books, simply refused to respond to my queries after telling me how much she liked the first excerpt I sent her), I was traumatized. Doubted my talent, my courage, my Creator…but now, a la “Fast Eddie” Felson at the conclusion of “Color of Money”, I’m back. Oh, baby, am I ever.
Working with confidence and vision, seeing the novel in more dimensions and depth than I ever have before. I’ve finished edits on the first half of the book and today I begin Part II. I’ve divided So Dark into 20 page chunks and I pound away on each one like a heavy bag until I’m satisfied I’ve knocked the fucking stuffing out of it…and then I move on to the next segment.
The intensive editing has led to some, ah, interesting, side effects. Most notably, dreams; incredibly vivid ones. To the extent that when I stop work around 9:00 each night I have to deprogram myself, ease out of my fictional world, watch an old “Fawlty Towers” or original “Star Trek” episode with Sherron and have a giggle. My two sons are good sources of distraction too–funny, smart, interesting buggers. Their thought processes never cease to fascinate me. Their February break is coming up and during the time off I’m hoping a couple of old films I’ve ordered off the internet (“Conquest of Space” and “Tarantula”) will arrive and we can sit down, as a family, for a midnight-double-bill-creature- feature. I love sharing old flicks with them, chortling at the hokeyness and marveling at the absence of CGI, the wires showing and none of us giving a shit.
Sorry, have to make this post short. If I don’t make my daily page count, I can’t sleep at night. Insistent, nagging voices keeping me awake, telling me what a lazy, shiftless bastard I am.
Make sure you come back the end of March and see the end result of all this crazy-making work. So Dark the Night will be the leanest, tightest 470-page novel you’re likely to come across. That’s a promise–and as anyone who knows me will tell you, I always keep my promises.
I’ve been dropping hints that there are big things ahead for this blog in the coming year, now I’d like to make it official:
In the next fifteen months (or so), I shall be posting 4 separate, full-length novels on this site. They will be available to read and download (under the terms of Creative Commons) for FREE. I might have one of those PayPal “tip jars” for those of you who want to offer a small stipend to keep me in printer cartridges but I emphasize payment is optional. The main thing is to get my novels out there in the public eye and give folks the opportunity to read them.
The first offering, So Dark the Night, will be posted the end of March. I’m in the process of doing a final edit and polish, wearing out my brain on the 475 page fucker. But it’s a gorgeous book–I’ve excerpted it in “Stories” if you want to pop over for a look–and when you read it in its entirety…well, I can hardly wait.
The next book is shorter, about 160 pages. It’s titled Of the Night and is set in the same universe as the first one, although not a direct sequel. I’ll have that one ready likely the first week of June.
Two others will follow and I’ll talk about them in greater detail at a later date.
I’ve set a pretty aggressive schedule for myself, with hard deadlines, so the next year+ is going to be busy and my poor, arthritic fingers are going to take a terrible pounding. But if not now, when? I am encouraged by fellow scribblers Peter Watts, Scott Sigler, David Wellington and Cory Doctorow, authors who have garnered no small amount of attention and acclaim by posting their work on-line. Cory has made the astonishing claim that one of his novels has been downloaded 650,000 times…and that’s just from his site alone (not counting those “linked” to him). The mind boggles at such numbers. And Peter, disenchanted with how Blindsight, a terrific book, was promoted by his publisher, posted it on rifters.com and earned himself a spot on the Hugo shortlist (and I still say you shoulda won, bro).
So there it is, my friends. All part of my profound desire to bypass traditional publishing and get my work directly into the hands of readers. Whether or not I have the kind of success others who’ve gone this route attained, I can’t say. But if I don’t it won’t be because I’ve offered up substandard, amateurish work. So Dark the Night is a thriller in every sense of the word, filled to brimming with sharp, hard-boiled dialogue, supernatural “bogeys” and the most endearing private operatives since Holmes and Watson navigated the steamy streets of old London town.
Watch for it the end of March.
It will be worth the wait.