Well, I guess I shouldn’t treat the release of my novel At the End of the World as a true first in publication. I’ve had poems published and I’ve published a short story. But there’s something different about a novel.
I decided not to post a big celebration piece on the day of publication (tomorrow, 10/21/20) but thought I’d try to capture the feeling I have today, the day before the world gets to read my little book.
The novel’s journey is a little unusual. In 2018 I wanted to do something different for NaNoWriMo. I had met the 50,000 word goal for novels three times by then, so I didn’t want to write another novel. Maybe some short stories that would add up to 50,000 words. Well, that’s what I did. I wrote twelve stories that month. Four of them were related.
Fast forward to late spring 2019. I was, as it turned out, fortunate to become unemployed. I’d been planning to leave my career in technology and focus on starting a publishing business and writing. I just thought I had 3-5 years to make the transition. I originally thought 5-7, but I could see things deteriorating at my job. The stress, that was not doing my heart any favors, so I knew I had to accelerate things.
In June of 2019 I had four stories that I thought could make an interesting short collection if I could add a couple more stories and give the whole thing a sense of an arc and completion. In August of that year I sent those six stories to my editor, Kat Howard. My hope had been to use the collection as a bridge between my first and second novels, but being unemployed, I decided this collection needed to be published soon, possibly October 2019.
However, Kat liked the worldbuilding, magic, and characters, and felt like there was much left unsaid and unexplained. She told me it should be a novel. I had reached the same conclusion while she was reading it. So much for getting it published in 2019.
A year of alpha and beta reads, editing, copyediting, and proofreading, shaped the novel into something real. Now it will be available for everyone to read.
I learned new ways to structure a novel, and Kat pushed me to make a ‘what-if’ feel like a fully realized phenomenon. To make an ensemble cast deep enough for readers to feel for the characters’ plights and joys. This was the hardest story I’ve ever written, which I believe is the key to writing success.
At the End of the World is a novel full of connections and disconnections, and of strange dichotomies of places and times. On the eve of its publication, I feel the dichotomy of excitement, and anxiety over letting this story go into the world.