AFTER DOUBT AND HARD WORK, THE PAYOFF
See that middle stack there there on my bookshelf? That slim pile of magazines, journals, and anthologies contains the sum total of my various publications over the years. Every time I published a new piece, I added it to the stack with a sense of satisfaction. It was a slow-growing pile, but it was growing, and I gave it good company by shelving many of my favorite books around it.
That bookcase is adjacent to a fireplace, in front of which my laptop and I spent many wintry hours, struggling with the writing of a novel I wasn’t even sure, for a long time, that I wanted to write. See, the thing about writing short stories is this: there’s always hope in the mailbox. Even if you take your time with a story, like I do, you finish it, you send it out, someone accepts it, you look forward to seeing it in print, and you get on to something new. But by the time I realized I was deep into Cascade, deep into writing in a form I was unsure of, I’d published all the stories I’d written, and I knew it was going to be a long time before my stack saw anything new.
I could write a long post that only other writers might want to read, about the angst and joy of writing Cascade, and about the self-doubt that tried to weld itself onto a slender wire of underlying faith, but it will suffice to skip to #TheEnd:
Last week, I got my first printed copy of Cascade from Penguin. The finished jacket is more beautiful than I’d even imagined, with soft raised lettering and inside flaps that are a surprising and pleasing bright green. My initials are stamped into the front of the hardcover binding: MOH. Cascade is permanent and real, with a copyright page and a Library of Congress number.
When I get my other copies from Penguin, I will add one to the horizontal stack, but for now, I can’t resist setting this first one apart, shelved like any book, upright and ready to be read.