Due to boring circumstances beyond my control, I will not be online much in February. Fortunately I’ve been able to line up a number of stellar guests to fill in for me. Most are writers, but I also thought it would be fun to get some publishing types to explain what it is they do, teach you some more about the industry, and answer your questions, as well as one or two bloggers.
Today’s guest blogger is debut author, Karen Healey, whose first book is coming out quite soon, I believe. She may mention it in her post below. Possibly. She’s a busy woman. She’s prolly not paying much attention to things like that. I can tell you that her debut novel, Guardian of the Dead is a corker. I read it all in one big gobble. Grab a copy soon as you can. Be kind to her in the comments—debut authors are a bit
nuts, er, I mean sensitive.
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Karen Healey is a New Zealander living in Australia and writing a dissertation on American superhero comics. Her diet comprises apples, chocolate brownies, Diet Coke, and novels about teenagers doing awesome things. Her first novel, Guardian of the Dead, is a YA urban fantasy set in New Zealand and deeply influenced by Māori mythology. It will be out on April 1st in Australia, New Zealand and the USA, and is available for pre-order now. She has heard all the jokes about that date.
Waiting for the Miracle
I have never possessed anything remotely resembling patience, and at the time of writing, my first novel will debut in 48 days.
This is not a good combination.
I’ve never been good at waiting. I was that kid who went to bed at 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve, in the hope that the time between now and Santa would disappear in sleep. I was then the kid who got up at five and proudly showed my parents the results of Santa’s generosity.
Now I am a supposedly adult woman, and sometimes it feels like I have spent all the time in between those Christmases and this day waiting, for things both good and bad. Waiting in airports for delayed planes that will take me to dear friends. Waiting in dentist’s offices for the pleasure of getting holes drilled into my teeth.
Waiting is far from the worst thing in the world, but I cannot stand it. I am prone to jumping off trams in heavy traffic, though even a momentarily stalled tram will get me to my destination faster, because I long for the illusion of moving, going somewhere, getting closer.
My Year Thirteen1 English teacher carefully explained that the final words of The Great Gatsby are supposed to be a poignant underscore of the tragic impossibility of the American dream.
Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter—tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms further . . . And one fine morning—
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.
Sad! Tragic! Pointless!
WHATEVER, seventeen-year-old me thought. Sure, futile effort, impossible dream, but at least they’re taking action. They’re not just sitting in the stupid boat!
Now I’m sitting in the boat. And the boat is actually going forward, carrying me on to publication and beyond, but I can’t affect its pace. Nope, the current is going at its own sweet speed, and not even diving in and swimming is going to get me any closer, any faster.
Not that I don’t try to find the illusion of action.
SCENE: A motel living room, in a small New Zealand town. All is dark and silent. OUR HEROINE, whose brother is to be wed in a few days, creeps in and furtively opens a black laptop. She stares into the blue-white glow of the screen, tapping a few practiced phrases, switching between tabs.
OUR HEROINE’S FATHER wanders in with an empty glass in his hand, and recoils at the ghostly sight.
FATHER: What are you doing?
HEROINE: I’m checking icerocket.
HEROINE: Someone might be saying something about my book! Hm. No. Well, maybe technorati . . .
FATHER: Do you do this often?
HEROINE: Oh, ha ha ha, goodness no! That would be the act of a dangerously obsessed and insanely impatient person!
FATHER: Well, yeah.
HEROINE: YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND. NO ONE UNDERSTANDS. DO YOU SEE MY PULSE FLUTTER IN MY THROAT? SIR, I MAY SWOON AT YOUR SHOCKING LACK OF SENSIBILITY. OH, WOE, WOE, ROSEMARY AND RUE.
FATHER: I’m going to put the cricket on. Can you keep the impassioned writhing to a minimum?
But even my most impassioned writhing doesn’t bring the publication date a minute sooner! In this strained time, I like to think about the words of the poet John Burroughs:
Serene, I fold my hands and wait,
Nor care for wind, nor tide, nor sea;
I rave no more ‘gainst time or fate,
For lo! my own shall come to me.
Specifically, I like to speculate on what he might have been on, and to wonder I could get my hands on any. Serene waiting? Uncaring waiting? Waiting without raving? Impossible! I think the poem’s narrator is dead, which might be a clue—I imagine that if I ever find waiting easy, it’ll be then—but that doesn’t help me now.
How about you, Justine’s readers? How do you handle waiting for things? Do you also rave against time and fate, and specifically time for moving so damn slow, or are you calm, serene hand-folders? And if you’re the latter, can you teach me how?
In the meantime, I might have to go with the classics. I’m going to go home, change my sheets, fluff up my pillows, and curl up with my teddy bear for 48 days, until I get something better than Santa could ever bring me.
It’ll be worth it.
I just wish I didn’t have to wait.
- The final year of high school in New Zealand. [↩]