I wrote another book, y’all! It’s a real thing. I have a copy in my hand right now and it feels yummy. It’s a strange thing to have written to completion, not one, but three novels, edited them, re-edited them, designed covers for them, and published them. But that’s what I have done. And I’m going to go ahead and brag on myself for a moment, if you’ll indulge me.
Now, please click on this link and buy Chasing Those Devil Bones for $2.99, that’s the price of your favorite large coffee drink. (And it stays way hotter and lasts longer, too.)
That was fun. Now back to work.
As Chasing Those Devil Bones makes its way through the digital birth canal and out into everyone’s Kindles and iPads, I am sitting at the 95% completion mark of the next book in the Clementine Toledano Mysteries, working title, The Devil’s Luck. And I am stuck. This happens, sometimes, usually when I’ve plotted out the crux of Q’s current mystery one way, but Q and the gang are running roughshod over the story and have another solution in mind. Unfortunately, they’re all thumbing their collective noses at my shouts of “We only have 10,000 words left! Wrap it up!” And, as much as I love the team’s additions to this plot during the writing process, I refuse to go full boat Umberto Eco and write a 200,000-word mystery.
[Author’s aside: Umberto Eco’s book, Foucault’s Pendulum, referenced above, is one of the greatest books in modern history and I will personally punch anyone in the nose who disagrees. Ok, I won’t really punch you, but it is one of only three books that I’ve read more than four times, so you should give it another chance if you didn’t like it.]
Part of my problem with The Devil’s Luck, is that I know how it ends. I just don’t know how it gets there. You see, I’d written the ending before #NaNoWr2017 even started, well, at least the emotional context of the scene. The scene itself came later and I big-huge-googly-eyes-LOVE it. So, it must stay. And as much as I loved writing more than half this book in three weeks, it’s left little time for the machinations and marinating that come with slogging along for six to ten months, writing 300 words one day and 3000 the next.
But if I’m being honest with myself, the larger part of me is just plain old scared. If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you already know how much I LOVE this new book. It brings me so much joy to read it. It’s so full of life and breath and music and stench and laughter and everything that I love about the city I used to call home. What if I fail it in these last moments?
What if I fail?
Lord, I could write a novel that would put Eco to shame on word count about my fear of failure. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done some things in my life that a lot of people would consider to be brave. I was scared shitless doing every last one of them. But I did them.
But there are other things I didn’t do because I was too scared. And those are the things that I regret.
A dear friend of mine constantly tells me to not worship at the Temple of Regret. Over the door of my personal temple is written a single word: FEAR.
During the bravest period of my life, I read the entire Dune saga from beginning to end (you know you’re a SciFi nerd when that’s on your Bucket List). If you’ve not read it, first, shame on you, but the omnipresent religion of the Bene Gesserit uses the following litany to overcome fear:
I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.
There are many brilliant things about Frank Herbert’s Dune. For me, this continues to be the most brilliant. A simple, powerful series of words that so perfectly describes that feeling you get when you let go of your fear. A void. A nothingness. And there is tremendous power in that nothingness.
I repeated this litany over and over during that bravest period of my life. I repeated before I went I stage for the first time. I repeated it as I walked into Nothing Studios to interview for a job working for Nine Inch Nails. I repeated the shit out of it before I met Trent Reznor for the first time, followed by a whole lot of “act cool, act cool, just say ‘nice to meet you.’”
I don’t know when I stopped doing that. Maybe I should start again. Right now. Because, here I am, kneeling at the entrance to my Temple of Regret, looking at those big letters in iridescent green script: FEAR. Already convincing myself I’ll fail this novel when I’m so close to finishing it. Focusing on everything I’ve done wrong up to this point instead of all the things that I’ve done to make it so charming and wonderful that it terrifies me to have written something so good.
But I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little death that that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past, I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone, there will be nothing. And only I will remain.
So, this is me. Standing back up and dusting off my knees to return to the fray and finish this lovely book I'm writing. Because let’s face it, I felt this same fear when I wrote Chasing Those Devil Bones and the wondrous thing still brings me to tears multiple times even though I have actually lost count of how many times I’ve read this final draft of it. And I hope anyone who reads it enjoys it as much as I still do.
And, Coming Soon: The Devil’s Luck