Not Quite Yet

Tomorrow is Publication Day, which means that today is the last day the book belongs to only me.

Yes, there have been ARCs out. And reviews (some really nice reviews). I have a few beta readers for whom it’s nearly as old as it is for me.

But it’s still, for tonight, just mine.

It’s been a strange transition, watching this book head toward publication. It’s been an incremental separation, as it went through edits, then copy edits, then proofs, and then into an actual print galley. It’s fixed now; it’s been fixed for ages. This story, told as it is told today, won’t be changed again.

I’ve been writing for decades, and I’ve never been in this position before.

In many ways, I don’t have the same emotional investment in this particular story. I’m still thinking about the sequel, which I handed off weeks ago. That one is mostly fixed, but not completely. And there’s the third book, still taking shape, still mostly in my head. These are my children that need tending. This book, this first book, doesn’t need me anymore. It wouldn’t matter if it did. It must be what it is, and be out in the world, for better or worse.

My friends have been lovely. A bunch of them have preordered it. A bunch of them may actually read it over the next several weeks, which will be interesting. I always think I ought to warn them of things – language, for one; so many people who know me in real life are surprised I do so much swearing in print – but there’s really no point to that. It is what it is. The book will belong to them, and will be read a little differently by everyone who chooses to read it. They will like it or not, and I will not be a part of that equation. And that’s as it should be.

But tonight, it’s still just mine. I can love it for what I learned from it, for my characters who have no idea what I’m doing to them in the next book. I can love it for the bits that were so satisfying to write, and for the scenes that felt like they were shaved off of my skin with a cheese grater. I can love it for its unexposed self.

Tomorrow it will belong to everyone else, and I will let it go, and focus on the ones I can still shape.

But I will remember how it feels tonight.