Musings at the end of a grueling year.
On December 1st 2016, To Touch a Dream will be published. It is the fifth and final volume of The Year of the Red Door.
I have many feelings and emotions swirling around my heart and head. It has been a long and difficult year, from December 2015 until now. I set out to publish each of the five volumes of The Year of the Red Door within a year. It looks as if I might succeed. Along the way, I’ve done very little to market or promote the story—just a few things as time and resources permitted. I’ve broken just about every “rule” of publishing. I did not do so out of contempt for the rules, nor out of any conceit that the rules do not apply to me.
I had to find my own way. I had to do things according to my extremely limited resources. I could not afford to do many things that I should have done. But I did not think I should wait until such financial resources were available before setting out.
I considered very carefully the advice and opinions of others who have been successful, who know more than I may ever know about publishing.
I had to learn along the way. How to do interior design and formatting, how to do cover layouts, how to deal with printers and distributors. I had to learn about pricing and wholesale discounts, about royalties, and expenses. About the exasperating politics of bookstore distribution. And about the jolly industry of paid-for book reviews that brazenly operates with a wink and a nod.
Fools rush in, they say.
Yes, I stumbled. I made mistakes. I rushed inferior copy to press. I underestimated the time required on the manuscript preparation/editing side of things and on the technical/design side.
Perhaps I was foolish. But once I committed to this project, I was determined to adhere to the schedule, if I possibly could.
I met with many obstacles and problems. I will not enumerate them. Events happened, failures occurred, and the industry changed. Some of the obstacles left me angry and disappointed. Some left me embarrassed and humiliated.
It is what it is. I kept going. It was not easy. If it had not been for a very few people along the way, I might have given up. There was not a day when I did not consider quitting. A word here and there from a friend or acquaintance was sometimes the only thing that gave me the will to keep going.
Kindness, let me tell you, is powerful. And it is sufficient on its own to rekindle passion, energy, and determination.
So here we are.
I say “we” because The Year of the Red Door has become part of other people’s lives, in some small way or other. They have told me so. A few, like the person in England and the person in Connecticut, another in California, and another in Oregon, and another in Michigan have made it known publicly that the tale has somehow touched them. And some have even sent me private notes to say more. Others have shared in person some very kind remarks regarding the tale. And another person, a person whom I was convinced would not like the story at all (or would have outright hated it), has told me how profoundly moved he was by it.
My wife, Dear One, never flagged in her faith that the story would make it into the world and would be received kindly. Not even when I was at my most abject. I still hope that she is right.
And then there was my editor, Sara Kahan. She died tragically during the last months of run-up toward publishing. She never had the chance to hold a published copy of The Bellringer in her hands, much less see to completion the work that she helped shape. But during many of my darkest moments after she died, I would suddenly recall the some comment about the story that she had made while editing it, some in the margins of manuscripts. I recalled with pleasure the many conversations we had about the story, about various aspects of it. She was curious about “where” the idea for this or that came from. She was gracious, insightful, kind, and encouraging. And when it came to the many terrible mistakes I made in the writing, she was gentle when pointing them out. Volume 3, A Distant Light, especially provoked her musings, and she seemed deeply moved and affected by the after-battle prayer in that volume, at least judging by her comments and by the conversations she initiated with me about it. That volume is dedicated to her.
So here we are, indeed. It is a big “we” that I mean, comprising the quick and the dead.
I am incredibly tired, exhausted, and weak. But I am relieved to be at this point. I am hopeful going forward. And I am gratified by all of the support, encouragement, and kindness that has been given me.
The end is nigh. At least for this chapter of the story.
A new chapter shall soon begin.