Monday, March 21, 2011

The Risk of Publishing

Every time I think about my new book, 78 KEYS, coming out in May, I’m filled with excitement tinged with dread. The excitement part is easy to diagnose. What writer wouldn’t be excited to see her book in print, a creation emerging directly from somewhere within her brain and heart? Just the thought of my words being read by many people whom I know, but mostly don’t, thrills me.

So the dread? Ah, the dread. It’s not the fear that people won’t like the book. That’s a given. I’ve been a voracious reader my entire life. I’ve read many a book that came with heartfelt recommendations only to find the book didn’t please me for some reason. Books are a matter of taste, mood, chemistry and simpatico. If the reader doesn’t match with the book, it’s a matter out of the writer’s control.

78KEYS came from a churning place within me, a place more cerebral but in some ways more spiritual than WIND AND BONES. W&B was a book of the heart, arising from all my losses in Montana: parents, home, land and friends. 78KEYS gives voice to my dismay at our current anti-intellectual, photo-shopped culture and its ramifications for our inner lives.

Does that mean the book isn’t fun? Oh, hell no. It’s an exciting little read that I like to call elastic realism. Will readers feel comfortable with it and the way it stretches the bounds of our mind-controlled existence? And then there is the use of tarot cards, a subject where interpretations are as differing as each reader of cards. How many emails will I get that disagree with my card interpretations?

Oh, and let’s not forget the Yiddish. Yiddish? The book is peppered with Yiddish because my character was raised in a Yiddish speaking household. I love the language. It’s truly a language of onomatopoeia, the words sounding like their definition. The Yiddish in 78KEYS is a deep bow of love to all my Jewish in-laws, but it’s equally an acknowledgement to the Jewish lesbian readers who rarely see themselves in lesbian fiction. I just hope they go easy on my Yiddish spelling. Every farshtinkener time I’d look up a spelling, three or more versions would taunt me, leaving me fartootst. So I did the best I could.

And finally, not with dread but with awe, I have to admit deep gratitude to my editor, Cindy Cresap. She had me rip the book in half and rewrite one half. And what a better book it is because of that. Had we kept the book in its original structure, dread would be keeping me at home, cowering under my desk.

As it is, I can function with this small amount of dread coupled with excitement. And I suppose that makes me no different than any writer in the world who will see her creation on the shelves in a few months.