Writing, Publishing, and Crying (not always in that order)
I fell in love with Jeff VanderMeer's work when I read City of Saints and Madmen. After that I started getting everything of his I could. Recently I bought Wonderbook, which is subtitled The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction. It's beautiful and informative, and talks about the craft of writing differently than any other writing book I've read. It has a revised and expanded edition coming in July, which I was mad to see at first because I'd already bought this one. When I started reading I figured I would maybe want it digitally though, to have with me wherever. So maybe I'll get it twice. Anyway.
The other day I was reading interviews with VanderMeer and came across a link to a Tor blogpost about his work. That post linked to another article about how hard it was to publish the very book that brought me into that weird world of his. There was a lot of information in there I'd never read or heard. If you're up for a long read I highly suggest it, and especially so if you're a writer. It's here.
In that post VanderMeer writes:
One night, I woke from sleep with a vision of Ambergris in my head. I ran to the computer and typed out the first few pages of "Dradin, in Love."
Ambergris is the city featured in City of Saints and Madmen, and links the stories, along with some characters. VanderMeer has written in several places about the craft of telling stories, including Wonderbook, so I figured he'd be following up that sentence with some hard truths.
I hardly had to revise those pages at all. The city existed complete within me. I remember the feeling of utter joy in realizing that, somehow, I had found the door to a mysterious and unique milieu. I had no way of knowing at the time that “Dradin” would lead to more Ambergris stories, but it might have occurred to me that the ease with which I wrote the beginning of the story meant related stories would also be effortless.
Well that isn't what I expected at all.
If so, I was soon disabused of that notion. The rest of the story didn't come easily to me. I spent several months revising it.
There it is. He goes on to talk about hating the endings he was coming up with, and much, much more detail about the struggle of getting the book published. It's a great look into process, both writing and publishing, and should make you feel nice and normal about any hurdles in your way.