It's a rare person who puts pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) and pours forth a masterpiece the first time around. Most of us mere mortals, in an ecstasy of inspiration, furiously pound out a first draft. That is the beginning. Then we return to it, again and again, rewriting, revising, tweaking, sometimes throwing out whole sections and cuisinarting the plot. It's all part of the search for what it is one is trying to say, and then saying it in the best way possible. Finally, you get it the way you want it, you sit back and say, "Ah! Brilliant!" and you share it with your crit group or with an editor. And they proceed to rip it to shreds.
I've been working on Elder Light
for, I think, something like twenty years. In the meantime I wrote some other stuff, some short stories
that got published, and a novel that is coming out
in the fall, and innumerable essays, blogs and articles published in assorted venues. But I always go back to Elder Light
, rereading, adding, revising, expanding. It has settled itself into nine novels which range in length from 142K to 75K. Of course, that could always change. Nothing is set in stone until it is published, and even then, new editions do come out. There always seems to be something that occurs to the dedicated author that would improve the work. You're finally done when you are dead.
As I wait for Archimedes Nesselrode
to go through the slow process of incubation and birth (my publisher says November -- a small eternity) I continue to crank out my essays, blogs and articles, the latter of which
are my regular source of writing income. But I also continue to work on Elder Light
, laboriously taking notes, because my aging brain can no longer keep all the details of the saga straight in my head, doing research on various aspects to boost realism, or conversely, reading some article and realizing that it has direct relevance to some aspect of the story, so I go back and apply the new knowledge. And when you are dealing with nine volumes of story, even a small tweak in the middle has repercussions through the whole work.
Periodically, I post updates on this ongoing project on my website. Today I published some excerpts from Nicodamien
, the eighth book in the series. Yes, I'm nearly all the way through it again. However the last book is still only in rough draft form. I expect I'll stall out there for awhile, beating it into final draft shape. By then, no doubt, I'll have the endured the exhausting trial of a book release, and the good or bad news from the reviews and sales thereof. And I will once again tackle the misery of querying, searching for a publisher for Elder Light
. I can only hope that Archimedes Nesselrode
is sufficiently successful to generate interest in my other work. Alas, Elder Light
is very different from Archimedes Nesselrode
. If I am successful with AN
, will they fuss about EL
, wanting more AN
instead? And if AN
is not successful, will they refuse to even consider EL
as a result?
Never mind, it will be what it will be, and there's no use wringing one's hands over something that hasn't happened yet. Hell, the asteroid might hit between now and then, and it will all be moot anyway. So, back to chipping away at revising Nicodamien
, and cranking out the rest of the literary widgets. I'd say it's a living, but it isn't. However, it is a way of life.