Recently, I was having a conversation with a fellow writer who is working on their debut LGBTQ+ YA novel. He mentioned that, while the work was hard and sometimes frustrating, he couldn’t wait to hold an actual hard copy of his book in his hands. In response, I said that I had only held my books in order to sign them and give them to friends, that I didn’t actually have copies of my books for my own personal use.
When I had said this, I didn’t anticipate the reaction it would get. While I knew most authors had at least one copy of the book(s) they have written on a shelf at home, I didn’t realize that not owning a single copy for yourself was extremely controversial. In following up with this conversation, and speaking with other writer friends, I found out that I am in the minority–if not completely alone–when it comes to authors owning their own books.
Starting a book, from the moment the idea sparks to life in my brain, to spending hours and days thinking about how it will work, who the characters are, why they are the way they are, figuring out the “acts” of the book, slowly beginning to write and seeing what unfurls…it’s a process. Then, actually writing the book, feeling good about what you are writing, then later feeling that you need to go back and fix or change things, wringing your hands over the climax and ending, spending weeks, months, or even years with the characters in your head is exhausting. Rewarding and glorious…but exhausting.
Needless to say, by the time one of my books finds its way into a reader’s Kindle or into their hands in paperback format, I have read every word in the book at least a dozen times. Some of my books, such as ‘Just a Dumb Surfer Dude‘ and ‘A Surplus of Light‘ or ‘A Tremendous Amount of Normal‘ I could probably quote word for word. I could sit down with someone and tell them the whole story in detail–with dialogue–without having the book in hand for reference.
I love my books and I adore my characters. Some books, such as ‘The Gravity of Nothing,’ were arduous to write, and won’t get out of my head, but I still love them. My most recent release, ‘Just a Dumb Surfer Dude 3: Summer Hearts,’ made my heart soar at revisiting characters I adored writing. My gosh, I’ll miss Cooper, Alex, Logan, A.J., and Mr. Weissman.
However…I’ve read all of these books so many times that I just do not want to read them again. At least for now. I do not want to walk by my bookshelves and see them staring out at me, reminding me of the sleepless nights and early mornings and the midday cram sessions. I don’t want to think about all of the fights with my editors. Or the time I got a pejorative and expletive filled email after I released ‘Gavin’s Big Gay Checklist.’ To that particular person, whether or not I’ll go to Hell for being gay is still up in the air, but I’ll keep you posted.
Ultimately, I’m not at the point in my writing career where I want to see certain books and realize that I’ll never sit for hours on end with the characters who came to be my only friends at times. My books are exhilarating to my soul, but they can also make me sad at times. They’re a time capsule of my time as a writer, pieces of my life that hold memories, both good and bad, that I am just not ready to revisit.
One day, when I am old and gray, and hopefully surrounded by grandchildren and a spouse who has put up with me through thick and thin, I will open my laptop, pull up the PDF for ‘Jacob Michaels Is Tired‘ and laugh along with Rob and Oma. I know that those snapshots of my life will make my coldest days a little warmer, and I will reflect back on even the bad times and feel nothing but happiness and nostalgia.
Until then…I guess I’ll have a few empty spots in my bookshelves.
Tremendous Love & Thanks,