I received advanced copies of Catch and Kill in the mail this week. The official publication date is still weeks away, so it's an odd feeling. A bit of an anti-climax.
You see, I don't know about other people, but I only feel like a writer when I'm writing or editing something I've written or thinking about writing. Other times, I feel like a fraud.
Currently, I'm trying to jump start a new novel, but am not quite writing. And I'm writing poetry, which is more like breathing than writing. So ... I don't know why, but, yeah, I feel like a bit of a fraud to have a new book in my hands because that's something I have written rather than am writing and my tendency is to obsess about that which I don't yet know how to write rather than that which I've already found my way to the end of.
Don't get me wrong, I'm happy with Catch and Kill. Rapt, actually. It's the book I wanted to write, and the crew at UQP have been incredible through the whole process, from writing to editing to production, and I think that shines in the finished product.
But ... a writer needs to write. It's as simple as that. Maybe that's why I publication always comes with a strange sensation, an aftertaste that drives me back to the notebook and the computer.
The first time I felt like this was 1996. I was living in Berkeley, in the Bay Area, and had just finished writing the manuscript of what became, eight years later, my first novel, Another. I'd written a novel before, when I was 20, but knew it wasn't good enough to be in print. Another, I believed, was good enough.
This left me with a strange sensation. Ever since I was around fourteen, my only real 'career' goals, if I had any, were to write a clutch of great poems and write a novel. By 1996, I had a couple of poems I was happy with and, having finished Another, had written what I hoped would be that novel. And, just like that, it was as though a hand that had been in the middle of my back for ten years went away.
I found myself without force or motion. And I didn't know what to do.
Time has taught me what I need to do this time. I need to write the next book.