Saturday, June 4, 2011

Ending the book ritual--I think all novelists have one, whether they admit it or not.

I designed the final cover for Sexton Sand last night. The manuscript isn't finished yet, but it's close. People with traditional publishers don't get to design their own covers, but I'm still a self-published author so I get the privilege of designing my own cover art. I also get the privilege of doing everything else for the book. Someday I hope I'll be able to trade those privileges for the privilege of cashing royalty checks with commas in them, but until then I get to do my own artwork.
   My wife is one of those detail by the rules kind of people, which is one of the many reasons I love her. I'm not quite the antithesis of that, but I'm not much for rules unless they make sense at the moment I'm considering them. In her mind, the cover should be the last thing I develop, or the first, but definitely not the I'm-almost-done exercise.
   I'll tell you why I do it, why I like to design the final cover just before I write the ending. It's because I always experience a little trepidation just before I write the ending. Oh, I know how the book is going to end before I design the cover. That's not the problem. And now that I'm my own publisher, I know I can have the book ready for sale within a couple of hours after the final edit. That's not the problem.
   The problem with finishing the book is the let down. Yes, I always feel a little lost right after I finish a book. I feel satisfaction of completion...but then there's a lull, a mental pause, before I type chapter one and start the next book. I never want to take a break after I finish a book, but my brain (a thing I sometimes refer to as a fictional character I call Ralph The Muse) needs to take a break.
   Maybe this time it'll be different. After I finish Sexton Sand, I'm going to finish a book I've already started--a non-fiction account of the 9 weeks I spent in Peru in 1987. It was an interesting time, and a lot of the world called Sexton started with what I felt, saw, tasted, and feared in those days in Peru, when the country wasn't very stable. That book will be called: "Everything is Tomorrow?" 
   I'll be darned. I just plugged two books in one post.

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