A few minutes ago I downloaded a free 30-day trial of Microsoft Word for Mac.
I’m not scared of the program; I’ve used it before. But the download means I’m now committed to publishing The Gospel According to Gay Guys, my third novel, on Kindle within a month.
Kindle requires Microsoft files. Seems odd to me, given that most creative people use Macs, but the rules are the rules. I have to have the whole thing done – reformatted (every damn page, according to still more rules) and uploaded to Amazon.
From here, there’s no turning back.
I have, of course, been pushing myself to get to this day for weeks, months, years – ever since I published my first book and then wondered, “What happens on the driveway?” So the driveway is where the sequel begins.
But now the day has finally come. And I’m a bit scared.
I’ve been in spiritual direction with a counselor so this day would come. (Curiously, Marcia and I don’t have an appointment this month.) Publishing the book has been my #1 spiritual goal/thing to work on, because I believe God calls me to do it, because it’s something only I could have written.
Therefore to become myself, I have to do it. And now, the spacelaunch begins.
Who wouldn’t be a little scared?
This morning I wrote myself a sign, which is on my desktop:
I worry that the book will go nowhere.
And rather than find that out, I don’t publish it.
I also have a picture of (ahem) a nekkid man on my desktop, to go with these images, as motivation to do the work. I won’t post the full pic here, but I decided years ago that my character Kent looks like a Colt model from years ago named “Terry DeLong.” Nice looking guy; he has deep-set black eyes, and I decided to make that an inherited trait of his family, many of whom are also characters in the book.
Ya gotta have somethin’ to hang your hat on. (No comments from the peanut gallery.)
The book is a love story, among other things. It’s a hybrid romance-mystery-historical novel. Of course I love it to death. But will anyone else?
Probably not. And that’s very scary, because my “whole life” is bound up in the success of this book. Or so I think.
It isn’t really; I’ll survive either way.
“It’s a big smash hit!” Or “Nobody noticed.”
Here’s what I would not survive: failing to see the project through to completion. Failing to be my best self.
Going in, I already know what the criticism of it will be – the same as the criticism of my first novel, that this story continues on the driveway. “It’s too sweet. They’re too nice, they’re too perfect. The writing is juvenile. It’s incoherent. It’s grandiose. He’s in love with his characters” – which is true, that last one. Maybe the grandiosity too, but I’ve never lacked for ambition.
It will rise or fall on its title, which I hope is an eye-grabber.
But::: You don’t set out to write a Gospel unless you’re an evangelist – and I am, commissioned 1977 by the Bishop of Indianapolis. And::: You can’t write a Gospel unless it’s full of Good News – which it is.
Good news is sweet, nice and it’s perfect. (When it’s not being jaw-droppingly difficult. “Pluck out your eye and cast it away,” anyone?)
These characters are morally good, but they’re not perfect. Jamie’s got brain damage and a mental illness, and Kent can be a little slow on the uptake sometimes.
But they’re good to each other, and that is something I want to talk to Gay men about.
We’re often not very good to each other, which I think is usually the result of internalized shame about being Gay.
Even in this day and age it’s still the #1 problem we face. If you want to collect the most homophobic people in the world, convene a big gathering of Gay people.
I am very, very high on the ethical and moral worth of LGBTs. But we often believe the absolute worst about each other. You can see that in almost every Gay video ever made, pornographic or entertainment-oriented – and you can readily hear it at any bar or cocktail party in five minutes after two people have struck up a genuine conversation.
Watch documentaries about us, though, and you’ll see heroes and heroines from start to finish.
So I wrote a book about two heroes; you could even call them two saints. They’re imperfect mortals, but they consistently do their best, just like you do.
They do not contain the seeds of their destruction within themselves, a fatal flaw that will kill them. That is the way of classical mythology, but it’s inadequate as an explanation of why good people die.
They do, that’s all; they’re mortals. And unlike classical mythology, becoming gods isn’t an option for us. So I don’t mess with any of that.
There is indeed some violence, destruction and evil in this book, but those originate outside my main couple.
So: here I go. No turning back. Thirty days, all formatting perfect; all spelling, all thoughts, every word.
Will it be perfect? Nah, I can’t do perfect. Will it sell? Not if it’s never published!
I really need it to sell. But even more, I need it to exist, to be available for discovery.
When no one else can do it but you, you have to do it.
The one who does it is a hero.++