My books came. A modest cardboard box filled with ten mind-exploding copies of WILDMAN. My youngest sister and my wife were home. They watched my peel back the tape, pry it open. My hands shook. I pulled out a copy. I ran my hand across the cover and DAMN.
An incredible weight. I hefted it.
“The heft,” I said to Emily. “Check out the heft.”
She hefted. I have handed Emily dozens of rubber-banded manuscripts over our ten years together. And yes. The rubber-banded manuscript has its own beautiful, dirty appeal, but it can also feel like handing someone a homework assignment. Or an albatross. But this. THIS.
I got to hand her A REAL BOOK.
I’ve been published on digital sites before. It feels great. There is (obviously, obviously) amazing material which only exists in a digital medium but the caveman artisan in me lusts for the turn of a page and a binding and goddamn heft. HEFT!
I handed a copy to my sister. We stared up at each other. We screamed. I leapt up and danced. I am not a good dancer. This doesn’t matter. A Real Live Book that said WILDMAN and bore my name was evidence of all the eyes and hands and minds that had agreed – YES. Should we buy this? YES. Edit it? YES. Should we take extra care with the font and typesetting and copyediting and make the title page just FUCKING BEAUTIFUL? Should we do that?”
A published book is like holding a handful of YESes and the heft of the (almost) finished product offsets* the heaps of paper rejection slips I’d held onto and tacked to my wall and then buried in a drawer and then eventually recycled. Or burned. A few of them got burned.
(Note: Only in the figurative sense. If you were to physically weigh all my rejections slips, they would weigh more. Before I burned them.)
The feeling of this book. It’s worth popping every cork.
This particular book has been cared for. More than words. It has been shaped and polished and given a structure. I cannot thank everyone at Disney-Hyperion enough for the care they have given WILDMAN. I gave my heart and soul to this book, alone in a room. Late nights, early mornings, crying at my computer. Now I feel part of a creative current, rolling down the rapids, ready to move into the world.
I will show everyone. I will gush. I make no apologies. To everyone who listened, everyone who cared, everyone who threw in their own version of a YES – thank you. You have transformed this thing from a stack of rubber banded words into a sculpture worthy of a table or a shelf – I will be forever grateful.