Last week, for the first time in over two years, we took a family trip. It was a socially distanced, isolated trip to a fairly deserted town in Delaware on a bay, not too far from Rehoboth Beach. It was bitterly cold, but a wonderful way to gain some distance. We hadn't travelled significantly the entire pandemic and earlier (because of the baby). With my wife and two kids, I was able to put some real distance between myself and all the craziness of the world. The pandemic, the isolation, the news, and so on... We stayed by the water in a lovely house, spending our time searching for shells. While away, I watched Perseverance land on Mars. it was an extraordinary feat, and again had me thinking of how much we could reach, and what distances we, as a species, strive towards.
Distance... Stay six feet away. Escape to the beach. Send a robot to another planet... Distance is everywhere.
But it's also a matter of time. Perseverance isn't just some rover in a Martian crater. It's the term I've used most often to describe my career as an author. It's the term that defines my approach.
I run several writing groups. I mentioned something about my earlier books in one, and it started a swell of interest in The Scythe Wielder's Secret. Dozens have now received signed copies of the books. I'm delighted to share them, yet it's odd as well. I wrote School of Deaths a decade ago, but it's still new to each new reader. I can't help but feel a little distance from the book.
Earlier this week, my agent shared one of the most personalized rejections we've gotten yet. This is for the submission phase with my MG novel Starkeeper. I've been hoping for big news on that book, but again recognize the distance. I wrote that book over two years ago. Do you realize how much the world's shifted in two years? The distance between the guy writing that book and the guy hoping for a publishing deal...it's nearly as great as the distance Perseverance traveled.
And yet, I keep coming back to the concept that there will always be two distances. In one sense, writing is very removed from the moment. I am far from my newest readers, by years. Yet in another, more important sense, reading and writing provide a bridge. Reading is the closest we can get to another person - peering inside another person's very soul.
Writing creates true magic. I can read Shakespeare or Homer, and experience words and worlds for the first time, centuries after their original composition. I can draft something tonight, which readers might not see for years. And yet the moment their eyes take in those words, our minds will link. Just as my mind links with every author I read. Or every blog reader reading what I'm typing.
And that is why I persevere. My agent has 8 books by me ready to send out now. I don't need to write every day or drive myself crazy constantly striving to complete more projects. I haven't gotten that next step yet. Why not sit back and wait? Because I know the MAGIC. I understand the power of perseverance and how I will ultimately be able to bridge any distance. And in time, like that hunk of steel in a Martian crater, I too will explore new worlds, with my timeless readers linked to my every thought.