Not marble, nor the gilded monuments Of princes, shall outlive this powerful rhyme;
Back in high school when I first read these lines I was struck by the poet's confidence in words. His cocky self-assurance that the gift of a few words will grant a more everlasting memorial than, say, the graveyard called the Pyramids or the love note known as the Taj Mahal.
But you shall shine more bright in these contents Than unswept stone, besmear'd with sluttish time.
Of course, that was the poet's persona--a brashly confident young man who, like many a poet before and since, used metaphors and rhythm and rhyming couplets to woo his lover of choice.
When wasteful war shall statues overturn, And broils root out the work of masonry, Nor Mars his sword, nor war's quick fire shall burn The living record of your memory.
The living record of memory. Something all authors contend with, have struggled with, and it's a memory that has only become shorter and more overloaded with each passing century, decade, year, month. The young man who wrote this sonnet bravely wielded pen like sword against the aggregate forces of time and anonymity, seeking solace in the pursuit of affection and immortality in his attempt to win it.
'Gainst death, and all oblivious enmity Shall you pace forth; your praise shall still find room Even in the eyes of all posterity That wear this world out to the ending doom.
"Choose me," he whispers, "and you will live forever." Such is the potency of words; such is the power of poetry.
Funny thing is, the young man who wrote this had no idea that 400 years later his words would be available 24/7, broadcast freely to a global market, translated by machines, not priests or scribes or scholars or his somewhat bitchy friend Ben Johnson.
The poet's name was Shakespeare, and he was whistling in the dark.
Y'see, "sluttish time" is on my mind today, though I consider her more of a flirt. NOX DORMIENDA turned one on July 18th.
Now, those who know me know I like to celebrate as much as possible ... but I'm kind of quietly humbled right now, amazed at how blessed I've been that this tiny little book from a tiny little publisher is still attracting readers and will hopefully be available from a larger press in paperback (with the sequel coming out next year). Stay tuned for further news ...
In the year since NOX debuted, I've learned that the greatest gift of being a writer is the community I've met--readers, writers, book stores, publishers, editors, bloggers, reviewers, journalists, publicists, agents ... people. That is the sweetest blessing of all, and I am so, so lucky to be here and with them and on the road I've traveled!
And what else has happened in the last year?
Bruce Alexander Award. Macavity nomination. Foreign rights sold in Italy and Greece for NOX.
In January, in the midst of the publishing freefall, moving to Thomas Dunne/Minotaur with CITY OF DRAGONS, finding my dream editor and publisher thanks to my dream agent.
And now, after a fabulous and incredible Thrillerfest, where the news was first announced, I can add that "Children's Day", my short story prequel to CITY OF DRAGONS, will be in the next ITW anthology--publishing June, 2010 by Tor. It's called FIRST THRILLS, and will feature 12 "bestselling authors of today" with 12 "bestselling authors of tomorrow". More details later, but how humbled I am to be keeping such company!
It's been a year of bounty and profound gratitude, of feeling at home and like dreams really do come true if you wish upon a star, like living a Disney movie directed by Gary Marshall.
Last October, I thought NOX would be a bare blip on the radar screen, long forgotten a year later. And while I don't make any claim to it outlasting either monuments or someone's new marble countertop for the kitchen, the fact that I can celebrate its year-old birthday with the strong hope of continuing the series at a major publisher is, well, a miracle.
Add CITY OF DRAGONS--what I hope will be a true breakout novel--and I just might break into song at any moment. ;)
Thank you all for helping me get here, on this road and at this moment ... I'm lighting a candle ... and in the years ahead, hoping for a few more. :)
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Sunday, July 5, 2009
It's been an adventurous week!
No time to write about Vertigo, unfortunately--gotta save it for next time. I haven't had much time to do anything but work on some deadlines for the website relaunch, which we wanted to have happen before Thrillerfest, but looks like will happen the week after. And speaking of Thrillerfest ...
New York awaits! The conference is always exciting, and it's in the most exciting city on the planet, so ... I'm gearing up. Meetings. Parties. Panels. Non-stop, "city that never sleeps" fun! I leave early Wednesday, and will probably not be back to my Writing in the Dark post until the following week, though I'm hoping to squeeze in a blog or a tweet or two.
What else? Well, we just got word that the Greek rights to NOX DORMIENDA have been sold, so Roman Noir will be available in Athens and all over the remarkably beautiful country of Hellas.
I'm a bit emotional over the fact that my first foreign rights sales have been Italy and Greece--the foundations of western civilization, the countries and cultures I've spent so much time in, physically and mentally. From my first D'Aulaire's Greek Mythology (checked out of a Tallahassee, Florida library when I was in the second grade), to now seeing my first book published in modern Greek ... it's like an affirmation. Efcharisto!
Friday was photoshoot day ... we need new head shots for CITY OF DRAGONS, so ventured to the sunny side of the Bay and Berkeley, over to Lisa Keating, photographer extraordinaire. Lisa makes you feel immediately comfortable, in a beautiful, airy, naturally lit studio, complete with a black lab named Happy, who makes you feel exactly that.
Despite a TV movie-like mishap--my dry cleaner didn't give me my entire order, and so I arrived in Berkeley without a shirt and had to fight through horrendous 4th of July traffic to get back to San Francisco and then turned immediately around so I could make it back to Berkeley in time--the shoot was a dream, and makeup artist Tricia Turner and Lisa just the best people anyone--particuarly writers with nerves--could ever hope to work with!! I can't wait for the photos ... and yes, I wore one of my fedoras. :)
Today was Sunday Breakfast with Friends time, a wonderful opportunity to see pals and brilliant writers Laura Benedict (who lives in Illinois, so I never see her enough) and Sophie Littlefield (who lives in the Bay Area, but whom I still don't see enough!) We had an old-fashioned breakfast at an old-fashioned restaurant and I only wish I could spend more Sundays doing this ...
So, until next time, thanks for reading Writing in the Dark, thanks for checking out our new grog Criminal Minds, and I will do my best to convey some of the madness, fun, and exultation of Thrillerfest in New York!