When I was a kid, I hadn’t quite made the connection between authors and books. Books just happened; there weren’t people involved with the process until it got to the library. Even after logic told me that yes, someone had to make this stuff up, I still didn’t quite believe the connection. Authors were like Mr. Earbrass in The Unstrung Harp, or like the Hollywood conception of an author, complete with garret and muse. They weren’t quite human. You couldn’t talk to them, because their minds were on such a different level that they might open up a rip in the fabric of space from the sheer force of imagination.
Yeah. I didn’t quite consciously believe that, but I couldn’t shake the suspicion that there was some special quality that Real Writers had. I think some of this came from a form of magical thinking about the writing process, the belief that instead of sitting and working and writing to get something in print, some benevolent Spirit of Publication would visit the worthy. It doesn’t make sense, but it was on that level of thought where sense doesn’t matter.
So I fussed. Even after I knew writers and could recognize that yes, they were human (or at least kept their alien faces in another drawer), I still had this half-submerged idea of What Real Writers Do. Did Real Writers talk about their writing? Did they do the little “I wrote a good story” dance after a good revision? Did their bad revisions have “NO! WRONG! AND YOU SMELL!” written in the margin? What could I do or imitate or learn in order to be a Real Writer?
The answer’s simple — write — but the traces of that way of thinking linger.
The reason I’m thinking about this now is that over the last few months, I’d almost forgotten that I had a book coming out. I’d been working on the new book, getting it critiqued by BRAWL (who found all the weak points and then offered some excellent solutions), and if I thought of Spiral Hunt it was in the form of “what’s the next step”. Friends had told me that I must be just permanently gleeful that I was getting published and, well, I wasn’t, just because it had faded to the back of my mind.
Yesterday I got a package.
I haven’t stopped grinning since I opened it. I think I managed to tell the resident organist something along the lines of “it’s a book! And there are words in it! Words that I put there! And it’s a book!” I’m pretty sure I called my family too, but it’s a bit of a blur.
But now I know that Real Writers do indeed dance around the apartment waving their books around and yelling “Book! Book! Book!” Or at least one real writer does.