I sent the galleys of my novel, L’Amérique, to the publisher today, with a cover letter apologizing for the myriad of corrections. It’s sort of embarrassing, thinking a manuscript is over and done with and, rereading it (and having friends read it as well), discovering errors, typos, and inconsistencies on almost every page. After more than a half-century of dealing with words, you’d think I have a certain expertise in this line of work, but no–the serial comma still escapes my attention; semi-colons remain mysterious. I use numerals when I should write out numbers, and vice-versa; and my love affair with both sentence fragments and run-on sentences remains alive and well in spite of many interventions.
I’m having a bit of post-partum depression. This is the book I’ve wanted to write for a few decades. It altered my life, not always in positive ways. I rewrote it, edited it, went apoplectic over other editors’ suggestions, realized the suggestions were largely right and applied them; I had second, third, and fourth thoughts, and finally hurled the manuscript to its final destination. Now, barely hours after washing my hands of it, I, well… I miss it. The space it occupied on my desk is strangely empty, and I wonder if the more than hundred-and-fifty pages taken out should perhaps have stayed in.
The publisher of L’Amérique also signed another book, Montparnasse, and it’s time to finalize that one too. Plus, there’s Dope, an unfinished sequel to an earlier novel, Thirst. Dope needs an ending. Another finished novel, Lurid Tales, is seeking a home and four other partially written books beckon. Some have legs, other don’t.
For the past few months, I’ve been working on The House on Belmont Road, a fictionalized memoir of the years spent in downtown Washington rehabbing an eight-bedroom townhouse with the help of well-meaning friends and strangers. House is the third book in the L’Amérique trilogy. I haven’t even begun Book Two.
All this to say, there’s no lack of things to write, but L’Amérique was special. If I were to be allowed authorship of only a single, must-write book, it would be this one.
And now it’s written.
How very, very odd.