This is my very first blog, ever. And I find that it’s making me extremely self-conscious. Who knew? It’s like that dream where you show up for class and there’s an exam you knew nothing about. What am I supposed to do now? Yes, I have a new book coming out, a supernatural thriller called BLOOD AND ICE, and yes, I hope that a few people pick it up and read it. (Well, more than a few, I hope, or my career prospects dim considerably.) But you can read about that elsewhere. What I can say is that I just woke up, it’s after eleven a.m., and in a nutshell, that’s why I became a writer — to sleep late and never hear an alarm clock go off. My dog usually wakes me by standing on top of me in the bed, her long black muzzle just above my face, or by whining in the doorway with her tail going like a propeller.
My commute is easy … it’s just across the hall. And waiting for me in there is the terrifying prospect of my next book. A couple of hundred pages, sitting in a pile on the floor, in desperate need of several hundred more in order to be complete. I shudder to think. And that’s one of the funny things about publishing. Because the actual process is such a long one, by the time one book is ready to come out, you’ve already, inevitably, moved on to the next one. And personally, I find it very hard to hold more than one book in my limited imagination at the same time.
All the time I was writing BLOOD AND ICE, it was like walking around with my head in a bubble that I was afraid could burst at any time. It was a big book, covering a lot of time and some difficult scientific material, and it was hard to focus, much of the time, on other things … ordinary things like feeding the dog and talking to my wife and paying the mortgage. Once or twice, when I was driving to a teaching job I held, I tried using that freeway time to solve problems in the book, and wound up missing my exit and driving five miles out of my way. After that, I stuck to listening to Ray Davies and Leonard Cohen.
And I tried shutting the book out altogether, but that’s like trying to hold your breath indefinitely. On some level, my mind is always working away, teasing out the plot-lines, struggling to come up with some new twists and turns, and occasionally — and this is the worst — jarring me with some unexpected, screaming news bulletin along the lines of “This book doesn’t work! It has insoluble problems! What were you thinking? Isn’t it time that you recognized that you have no talent (that bad review in 1985 was right!) and started training for your new career in elevator maintenance?” There are times, in my life as a writer, when it feels like my heart just sinks into my shoes.
And there are other times — when the writing is going well, and I actually think I just pulled something off — when it soars.
But you never know which one awaits you. I’m in my little office now, the dog is curled up in the kneehole of my desk, and the people in the apartment upstairs have finally stopped running on their treadmill, so it’s time to find out.