Thursday, October 28, 2010

Four years, two months, and three days…

…since I finished the first draft of The Grove. And now, in less than a week, it’ll be available in bookstores all across the country.

This will be the second book I’ve had published in the last four months, and in some ways I’m more excited this time around than I was the first. Partly because I know a little more about what to expect, but also because The Grove has a very special place in my heart.

Even though it’s the second one published, The Grove was the first novel I wrote, and it taught me more about how to write fiction than anything I’d written before. I’m not talking about the craft of writing fiction, I’m talking about the less glamorous side of writing a novel, like meeting your daily word count, every day, no matter what. Like the importance of sticking with it and writing even when you’re stuck, even when you’re sure that every word you put down on the page is shit, because what you write today can be fixed tomorrow, and it’s much easier to fix a bad page than a blank one.

Most importantly, writing The Grove taught me that a first draft is just a starting point, that unlike short fiction, a novel builds itself in layers, over time and drafts. The first draft is just the beginning, like stretching a canvas over a frame before you start to paint. The real work comes later.

The Grove didn't find a traditional publisher right out of the gate, but I never lost faith in the book. I kept the manuscript around, letting it gather dust while I wrote my second novel. And after I signed a deal with Tor/Forge to publish The Cold Kiss, I pulled The Grove out and released it as an ebook on Amazon. The response was fantastic, and The Grove became one of the very first Indy bestsellers on the kindle. Eight months later I got a call from Amazon telling me they wanted to officially publish The Grove through their new AmazonEncore imprint.

Four years, two months, and three days…

Publishing a book is letting that book go. You wrote it, but it’s not yours anymore. It is what it is, and all you can do is sit back and watch what happens and hope for the best. This is in no way a bad thing. There is no downside to seeing your book on the shelves in bookstores, not a single one, and I have no regrets when it comes to the content of either of my books…

Well, almost no regrets.

I do regret cutting one scene in The Cold Kiss where Zack tells Nate and Sara the story of a farmer, “Just down the road,” who came across the body of a young girl in his cornfield, and of how he fell in love with her and kept her out there, all to himself.

At the time, this information seemed too out of place with the rest of the story, and I was worried it would take the focus off the tense interaction between the characters in the scene. Still, it would’ve been a cool detail to keep… Oh well.

I finished the first draft of The Grove on August 30th, 2006.

November 2nd, 2010 is the official release day.

Four years, two months, and three days…

If you decide to pick up a copy, I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.


And if you’re interested, here’s an early review of The Grove.


Erik Smetana said...

A long time, but well worth it. Congrats John!

John Mantooth said...

I love the analogy of a first draft being like a canvas and the real work coming later. Puts my fifth revision of my novel in perspective.

And congrats on the Grove. I can't wait to get my copy.

Frank Bill said...

Can't wait!!!

Lee Thompson said...

Looking forward to reading them, John!