So as I said in my last post, this summer will mark the ten year anniversary for when I started work on Machine, and while I wouldn’t have believed you if you’d told me it would take this long ten years ago, I’d have to say now that I’m not sure I would have done it any other way. You see, when I first finished Machine, I had written a fairly bad book. It wasn’t an awful book. It had promise, I was (and am) passionate about it, and it was very ambitious, but there were a lot of things that weren’t good about it either, and as a writer I had a ton of bad habits. I didn’t listen to criticism (sorry Mom, brother and sundry friends and family), I let bad writing slide, and I certainly wasn’t a good honey badger (see here).
Now, after nearly a decade, I can admit that. And even more so, I’m glad I did it.
See, Machine always has been and probably always will be my baby, but it hasn’t been an easy process, and I wouldn’t be the person I am now if it had been. Aside from the first book I wrote (which was so bad I hardly even count it), Machine has always been, in many ways, my weakest book. It’s the book I really, truly learned to write in and even more so, since it’s first draft, has been the book where I learned to edit. It’s where I learned to be tough, where I learned to be humble (or at least more humble), and all of my other books, all my other writing has come almost directly out of the dirty smelting furnace that has been my epic, my ball and chain, my profound little baby. Countless hours have been poured into this thing, hours spent alone or away, shackled from family and friends, and only now that I’ve spent the time honing my craft, thrashing my ego, only now after all these years can I start to see the true gleanings of my work, the pearls tucked in the mountains and mountains of shucked black shells and deleted words.
If anything, Machine is really the book I’ve grown up with. Cog and Rick are like family to me, always there, twin halves of myself, and it’s through this book, through this struggle, that God has shaped me into who I am today. Had I gotten published earlier, heaven forbid had I been famous, I wouldn’t be the me of today, and Machine certainly wouldn’t be the book that it is today either. I’d still be vain, I’d still crave fame, I’d still, possibly, think I was amazing. And sometimes I still do. I am at the very least a good writer to speak to the latter, naturally skilled, but it’s the work and time that has or will make my work great, and its the jobs, the growing pains and experiences I’ve had to have simply to get where I am as a human that have or will set the Machine of today apart from its sloppy, wordy and confusing self of the past.
Yet another way I find it so like myself.
And this isn’t to say that Machine is still bad. Not perfect, yes, but better, and possibly getting closer to the day when it’ll finally see the rays of the sun, where it will be a good book. No, this isn’t a post about that. This is to honor my book, to tell the world how much it means, even if we reach the end of this post and find I’m the only one who’s really still listening.
There are a lot of things writers don’t always tell you, and one of them is that most people simply don’t care. They may care about the person, that they’re doing good work, that they’re happy, but when it comes to the book itself, the hours spent slaving, the hours of thought, the nuances and pains, that’s when the average person on the street stops listening. It’s the same as with other arts, and, I suspect, with most passions of any kind. And that’s okay. We don’t all love the same things and it’s good that we don’t. I certainly don’t say this to shame those who have spent so much supporting me over the years or anyone else nor to belittle any and everyone’s more than generous support. But I’ve also spent nearly half of my lifetime crafting this book, and no matter who else is listening, even if once it’s published nobody cares, ever reads it, I love this book, I will always love it, and it will always matter to me.
Thanks be to God for this precious gift, this decade, and let it never be said that nobody, not even one person, ever cared for a book called Machine.
Thank you, my darling, for being so precious to me.