Yes, I realize I wasn’t even blogging in 2004 and only had three years of college under my belt, but for me, all news begins with this news: that I published a novel I wrote when I was fifteen, revised when I was sixteen, revised again when I was eighteen, was published, sans agent, by Pearl Street Publishing Company, who accepted the MS thinking I was a full-grown adult. While I like to say now that it’s a story of hybridity, negotiating otherness, and trying to escape the incessant ranking of identity factors, it’s essentially a sci-fi romp about biological robots. I should cite the Rockman franchise as a major influence.
David Foster Wallace once wrote that the best metaphor for the book-in-progress comes from Don DeLillo’s “Mao II,” in which the work is described “as a kind of hideously damaged infant that follows the writer around, forever crawling after the writer (i.e. dragging itself across the floor of restaurants where the writer’s trying to eat, appearing at the foot of the bed first thing in the morning, etc.), hideously defective, hydrocephalic and noseless and flipper-armed and incontinent and retarded and dribbling cerebro-spinal fluid out of its mouth as it mewls and blurbles and cries out to the writer, wanting love, wanting the very thing its hideousness guarantees it’ll get: the writer’s complete attention.
I’d like to extend the metaphor to the book-published-so-long-ago-it-reflects-nothing-about-the-author’s-current-style. I can’t help but cringe when Invictus is mentioned. I think, please don’t judge me if you read it, I disclaim, “Sure, I’m proud of it, but I was a dumb kid when I wrote it and my writing style has changed a lot since then.” That should go without saying. It also goes without saying that I am fiercely proud that, at age 15, a publishing house saw my work in the slush pile and thought it had enough merit to be shown to the world. I may never coo over this baby in public, but I have a display copy facing outwards on my bookcase at home, and one on my office desk, to remind me when the future looks bleak that this is where it all started, that if I could do it then, I can do it now.