So, the novel that I first described here in 2018 and updated here and here and here in 2019 and here at the end of 2020 … is done. Or, at least, it’s as done as these things get before someone agrees to publish them.
And that’s where things are right now. I have an agent who has begun to pitch the novel to editors, and I’m in the rather nauseating stage of waiting for one or more to bite. I even wonder whether it’s bad luck, bad karma or bad form to talk about it at this stage, but here I go.
In this interval of impotence, I’ve had reason to ask myself why it’s important for me to see it published. That might seem like a stupid/obvious question, but it’s not.
See, it’s not for the money. Sure, I’d like to make money — it even seems necessary to make money — but that’s not what’s critical for me here.
It has more to do with wanting people to read it, but the thing with that is, I could just self-publish it for free, and a bunch of people could read it that way. After all, that’s the model with this blog post and thousands of blog posts before them. And yet in the case of my novel, that wouldn’t be quite satisfying, either.
So it’s really the aspect of wanting this piece of writing to be taken seriously in a particular way. And without it being published, I don’t know that it really will be.
Over the past year, about a dozen people have read the book in draft form, and many of those have responded with tremendous enthusiasm to it. The fact that I got even one person to do that is amazing for me. And yet it doesn’t feel like enough.
And then I start to wonder, will any amount of reaction ever be enough?
When I started working on this project back in 2018, nearly three years ago, it was a bucket-list item. After all, I first dreamed of writing a novel decades ago. When I finally began this one, it was a test — a test of whether I could say what I wanted to say, and whether I could do it in this form. And I feel I succeeded. No matter what happens with publication, I feel I succeeded.
Moreover, the book became a dear companion to me, that would hear me and respond back to me. I think I’ve said this before, but it was as good a friend as I had over the past three years (and I have some very good friends).
The writing process could often be painful, filled with frustration and angst and despair, but it was also always in my control. Now, waiting for the professional world to react to it, I’m in a stage where essentially nothing feels in my control. And that’s hard to live with.
Ultimately, I have to remind myself that I believe in this book. I believe it’s worth your time — worth a lot of people’s time — and that its time will come. In case you’re curious, it’s called The Catch, and its central story is a modern-day love triangle between three people having midlife crises. Or, three modern-day people having midlife crises fall into a love triangle. One of those.
Here’s hoping you see it someday.
In the meantime, just to show I haven’t learned my lesson, I have a new idea for another novel that I’m beginning to break. And I’m realizing I might have sentenced myself to another term in prison with a new friend.