DARK AWAKENINGS: Signed, sealed, and delivered at last
Yesterday around 2 a.m. I hit the “send” button to email the completed manuscript of my forthcoming collection of horror stories and essays, Dark Awakenings, to its publisher, Mythos Books.
This was a long time coming.
People who liked my first book, Divinations of the Deep, have been asking me ever since its publication in 2002 when I would be writing another one. I did have a novella published in a standalone edition in 2004 (The God of Foulness, which is included in its entirety in Dark Awakenings), but that’s not quite the same thing. My answer was always noncommittal until I had amassed enough new material to constitute a next collection.
That amassing occurred two or three years ago. The scope and nature of that fabled next book became evident. It’s theme, that of dark and horrific religious and spiritual awakenings, became clear. (Of course this theme wasn’t surprising since it’s the one I involuntarily return to time and again.) Ever since then I’ve been steadily telling people that the book is forthcoming. At first my answers were semi-specific and involved the naming of years. Maybe in early 2007, I would say. And then that became late 2007. Then that became early 2008, and then late 2008. Then that became 2009. When I saw that maybe even 2009 wouldn’t happen either early or late, I reverted to the noncommittal approach and starting saying “forthcoming” without specifying exactly when it would come forth.
The delay was mine, not the publisher’s. I knew I had a real mountain to climb in terms of revising, editing, and shaping all of the material into the form I wanted. Some of the stories began to relive themselves from the ground up when I reapproached them, expanding their length and revising their prose with dramatic thoroughness. I’m a very slow writer, especially when it comes to fiction. For me the experience of authorship really is the way Walker Percy described it: a painful and messy process that’s analogous to a woman’s giving birth to a child.
So, to sum up, there have been delays.
Last week I was on spring break from my adjunct teaching job. I had told David at Mythos that I would use this time to get things done(really, honestly!) if at all possible. Early in the week I realized this simply wasn’t going to happen unless I positively buried myself in the project. So, along with maintaining my regular paid blogging activities, I ended up throwing myself wholeheartedly into Dark Awakenings and effectively not seeing my family or anybody else all week. I didn’t keep track of my total hours worked, but I know they were upwards of 60 and maybe 70. Of course I’m hardly the first or even the ten thousandth writer to push through such a marathon-sprint hybrid to the finish line. But it was the first time that I myself had ever done it. And I’m telling you, the fact that I’m able to type these very words right here kind of surprises me, so taxed are my authorial muscles.
Then again, I did get a nice flow going.
The verdict in terms of the book’s contents is that it includes seven stories, including the aforementioned novella, and three academic essays, for a total word count of about 116,000. This means it is substantially more substantial in total size than Divinations of the Deep, which was only the length of a novella even though it contained five stories.
In a future post I’ll list the final table of contents for Dark Awakenings, after I’ve conferred with the publisher. For now, I offer my thanks to everybody who has waited patiently while I held out for sacramental inspiration.