21 February 2010

Book launch: Solace and grief

Yesterday, Foz Meadows, one of my SuperNOVA writers group, launched her first book Solace and grief. I'm a great believer that we all feed each other as writers, that we all grow from reading each other's work and from critiquing -- not just from the comments that other people make on our stories, but as much from the comments we make on theirs. However, we didn't have any input into this book -- it was written and perhaps even accepted before Foz joined SuperNOVA. (If not accepted, then this followed shortly after, but the book was certainly already with the publisher.) But none of that stopped us coming out in force to help Foz celebrate.

Finishing a draft is a huge thing, so is whipping the book into publishable shape (or finishing the redrafting process) and getting it out there, and having it accepted and published is the hugest of all. Each stage should be celebrated because each is a success. And we should take joy in the success of our peers. One writer whom I was in a workshop with once, both as unpublished novelists, signed a seven-figure deal awhile ago. I'm ecstatic for her. Such success helps all local writers -- it opens doors for all of us.

Every so often I hear of writers, often published and successful writers, who hear of somebody else's success and get their noses put out of joint because they see that as a success they've missed out on. There are many different readers and many different books to meet those differing tastes -- to hear of someone else's success and see it as a loss for you is not only likely misguided but a path to self-destruction. Such small-mindedness harms you.

It astounds me that people are so competitive in this sort of pursuit. You have control over what you do in terms of perseverance, you have control over how much reworking you do, how exacting you are, you have control over whether you research a publisher to make sure you're giving your book the best chance, but you have no control over whether that publisher will take on your work or not -- whether the editor who reads it falls in love with it enough to go out and bat for it. That's what you need -- and it's not easy to find, so rejoice when you find it, and rejoice too when your friends do.

Foz's launch was unusual in that it was the first book launch I've been to where the books weren't actually out yet. Don't get me wrong: they were there. I've been to launches where there were no books because they hadn't come back from the printers, and to launches where there was no author because of illness. But this was the first preemptive book launch I've been to. Anyway, Foz, I hope it's strike is long, hard and successful! I look forward to the launch of the sequel! (And in a side-note, I haven't been able to lay my hands on it for reading yet -- my daughter took one look at it and said, "You must've been reading my mind. I want that book. And she's had her nose in it ever since.)

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