IN PRAISE OF DELAYS

I'm just getting back to the office after riding the publication roller-coaster, which was far more fun than I'd convinced myself it would be. (I was trying to prepare myself for people being mean on the internet, but you have to be a much bigger deal before you get that, so hurrah for obscurity.) The book release spawned a bunch of interviews, articles, and guest blogs, and I'll round those up at the bottom of this post. First, though, I'd like to give a shout-out to this unanticipated break in my creative flow, because no one ever thanks those things.

You'll notice that I said 'unanticipated,' which is absurd, because my editor told me when the book was coming out quite a while ago, and it was pretty obvious there would be stuff to do. But planning-things-me is an optimistic fella, and according to the schedule of deadlines he assigned me for the year, he actually thought I'd be writing through the book release.

I was puttering away, too, until I got an email from Audible.com telling me I was welcome to record my own audiobook. (This will be released on April 7th, and I am quite excited, because funny voices.) Recording a professional audiobook is not something you can do in the comfort of your own home, as it requires isolation booths and fancy microphones and people listening to you burp, and so I headed to Boston for several days, and everything went kerflooey. Even planning-things-me could no longer believe I'd be getting anything done on New Novel.

Now, like most people who are getting their groove on, be it on the dance floor, in the studio, or wherever high-quality babies are made, I don't like to be interrupted. Ideas where connecting themselves with great gusto to other ideas, and then they got yanked loose and told to behave. They seemed like good ideas, and I was worried that they'd be hurt by the neglect. But the moment I turned my attention back to these good ideas, the month-long absence made everything clearer.

Don't get me wrong, I still think they were good ideas. (I always do, until the editorial axe comes down, at which point I wonder why anyone ever let me do this writing thing in the first place.) But they're the kind of good that can still fall apart after a hundred pages or so, and improving them got much easier once I stopped trying to improve them.

Characters reorganized themselves. Their goals, and hairstyles, are now different. Subplots that might have emerged after an act or two wove themselves into the first few pages. And now that things are just so, I have faith that the entire structure will hold until the last page.

It might not, at least not in this form, but it's closer than it was. That's how it goes with me, and always has. Most living writers will tell you to complete a full first draft before reworking anything, but I'm incapable. I always worry over the first stretch, scrapping an entire book's worth of first scenes before I find an acceptable point of entry.

By now, I'm in no hurry. This sucker will gel when it gels. I've learned to enjoy the delays.

And now that Dead Boys is tottering around in the world a full five years after its completion, I'm glad for the delays built into the publishing industry. I still have my moments of anxiety, of course, but I'm far less stressed due to the time that's passed. When you've already given up on a book, it's that much easier to watch it enter the world with some measure of detachment. In the interest of selling tickets to the Squailia show, I'd be happy to see the next book come out a little faster, but if it doesn't happen right off the bat, I won't be mad. It'll be that much easier for me to improve it when the time comes to edit.

I used to bemoan the months-long wait between polishing a piece and learning whether it was rejected or accepted. These days I'm happy to have the time to cool off, because the work my brain does when I'm not watching it is far more impressive than the stuff it comes up with on demand.

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Here's the roundup of Dead Boys stuff, for the completists. (Both of them.) Thanks to everyone who hosted my ramblings!

On Dread Central, an interview with Debi Moore about the book's roots in horror and grounding in horrific research.

On SF Signal, a post about writing, time, and finding your purpose - The Eternal Struggle.

On The Qwillery, a dissection of the zombie attack as metaphor - I, Zombie - and an interview with Qwill herself.

Rural Intelligence hosted an interview about writing in the Berkshires and a collection of launch-party pix.

Martin Rose, author of Bring Me Flesh, I'll Bring You Hell, gave me this interview about travel and tuneage.

Mary Robinette Kowal's My Favorite Bit let me get all swoony about my wife, who inspired my favorite character.

Fantasy Book Critic hosted a discussion with Karina Sumner-Smith, author of Radiant and Defiant, about Fantastic Economies.

My Bookish Ways asked me about taxidermy and DJing in this interview.

The Berkshire Eagle ran this article on the book and its path to publication.

And then I fell over. I know you're supposed to do like six times more promotion than this before you fall over, but I'm new.

Maybe next time.