Kindle edition. The story of Dr. Tristan Martens, an entomologist who is forced to emerge from the cocoon of his specialized research and confront the secrets of his family’s terrible past, it's been reviewed as "splendid" by the New York Times, “elegantly imagined” by the Miami Herald and as "a compelling read from start to finish” by the Bloomsbury Review. My warmest thanks for checking it out, and for slipping it into your Kindle and into your lives, if you do. As I discussed in this earlier post, this book, for and about my father, means a great deal to me.
I also must, must take a moment to thank our fellow BoxOcto blogmate, publisher and editor Fred Ramey, and his partner, Greg Michalson, the two readers who first found this book and believed in it and helped it, at Blue Hen/Putnam, to take flight as the polished, finished thing it now is. I am forever in your debt, Fred and Greg. I hope you are still proud of our creature, our joint creation.
Now, with plug and thanks accomplished, I'm going to use this occasion to think about something I don't think I've ever discussed on this blog before.
As a writer and creator, I tend to be in love with whatever I happen to be working on at the moment. (You too?) The past is prologue; everything I've done before (I tend to tell myself) is old news, probably vastly inferior to the Great Work I Am Now Trying To Accomplish. If you happen to ask me, when I'm at work on a new book, which of my books is my favorite, I will hem and haw a bit, and then talk fondly about each one like an individual child, naming the strengths of each ("oh, that one is my precious first-born," "oh, that one is my funniest")--all the while thinking that what still lies inside of me will be, without question, Better Than Anything I Have Yet Attempted, And On Several Levels.
Part of me, of course, knows this may not be the case. Years ago, a good writer friend and I had an intense conversation about how, realistically, some of our books were going to be better than others, and that we would just have to learn to ride the ups and downs of a writing career and of the creative process in general. I also know that in some ways the New Work That Will Be Better Than Anything One Has Yet Attempted is a (necessary) fiction, because (I don't know about you) I can't get up every morning and go and sit down to create something if I am saying to myself, Possibly I Will Create Today That Which Falls Significantly Short of Things I Have Created Before. Even if it's true, I don't want to know it.
I would go mad.
I have to believe, each and every time that I sit down, that in every day and in every way I am getting better and better. I may know, in the deepest part of myself, that creative pursuits aren't like that; that sometimes lightning strikes, and sometimes it doesn't. But it doesn't matter to me. I choose to believe in the perfection of self, and the perfection of art. If today's chapter isn't as good as yesterday's, well, it isn't for lack of trying. And that is what matters. The striving to make something good and real. The blind belief, that if you try, you can do it. Again and again.
This is my faith.
For the record, I believe that I have yet to write anything as good as my second novel, The Deadwood Beetle. It is my favorite. My first book may have passages of writing that are far superior; my third is better-paced and in some ways more accessible. But Beetle, to my mind, is the finest work I have done so far, the most accomplished, the most fully realized. And I am extremely proud of it.
But it is done. It is finished. Today, my job is to make something new. Always and always, to make something new. Believing I have everything in me, the very best I have, still to come, still to share.
The day is getting on. Do.