Why bother with a book launch at all? After all, many writers tend, I think, to be somewhat introverted by nature, so speaking to groups of people at public occasions can be very stressful for them. (Thank goodness my teaching career has always demanded I not regard that particular bugbear as a problem.) Well, I think an official launch is both necessary and desirable because books don’t just happen in isolation, despite the fact that Stephen King has said you write the first draft with the door closed (quite true), and I have said right here in this blog that writing is not a particularly social endeavor (also quite true). So will you indulge me for a moment while I paraphrase a couple of clichés we can contort into being relevant to writing? Thanks. (Only a couple. Promise.)
It takes a village to write a novel.
No writer is an island.
And despite the fact that we tend to roll our eyes and dismiss clichés, the weird thing about them is that they become so because they’re absolutely true. That’s why we use them to the point where they become clichéd.
While Gryphon’s Heir has been available since mid-June, it arrived just as classes were winding down; the students who were my initial audience were focused on final exams and the end of school, although sales have been steady. But 30 years in the teaching profession has led my personal calendar rhythms tending to mimic the school year, so following a quiet summer restoring physical and emotional strength that tends to get so horrendously depleted between September and June, it’s time to ramp up the Gryphon’s presence. What better way than with a proper book launch? This will, after all, be an event that truly marks the fact that the project I started more than nine years ago is moving fully out into the bright light of day, and it’s about celebration. When I first began writing what would eventually become Gryphon’s Heir, I had no idea it would become a novel. I just needed to write. There were times when the writing came swiftly and effortlessly, and times when the writing was slow and torturous… even a few times when it wouldn’t come at all (I’ve heard it said that writer’s block is when your imaginary friends won’t talk to you, and I think that, all joking aside, it’s largely true.) But the story gradually grew (in the telling, as Professor Tolkien famously said) until we reached a point late in the summer of 2014 when I realized that we had to either fish or cut bait, as the saying goes: it was time to stop endlessly tinkering and editing and either take the publishing plunge or just put the whole thing away in a dark drawer somewhere and try to forget about it. But that latter option wasn’t remotely a realistic possibility by then, of course, and I never entertained it. By that time, I’d invested so much of me into the project that I really wanted to see it put out there. So I stiffened my quaking spine and began preparing to take my baby out for the world to see.
So… let’s return to the idea of book launch as a group celebration. Because, as I began, no writer’s work ever really occurs in total isolation. We all live in community --- even troglodyte writers hunched over their word processors, dreaming of far-off worlds. So a book launch is an event to bring together and thank all the people who assisted along the way: those who read early drafts and made helpful comments and suggestions, those who provided encouragement and support, and of course, those who have already bought the book. (It will hopefully also bring those who haven’t, but might be willing to, perhaps drawn in through sheer curiosity!)
If this marks the dawn of a new career that turns out to be as successful, as fulfilling, as long and as fun as the one I have had for the last thirty years… I will count myself truly fortunate.
So I hope to see you at Owl’s Nest Books on the 22nd. It’s going to be a celebration for us all.