Saturday, September 18, 2010

A Work in Progress

On our way out to the desert a couple weeks ago, I caught a glance of my face in the side mirror and was surprised to see how much I’ve aged recently. I froze for a moment, fully aware that I was standing at a crossroads and had two options:
  1. Freak out and make myself miserable, spending the rest of my life fighting the inevitable, or:
  2. Roll with it.

Maybe it was because I was in such a happy, relaxed state of mind—we were on our way to Burning Man, after all—but miraculously, I was able to step through door #2. I decided that I am a work in progress, and that nature is going to continue to mold me and paint patterns on my skin in its own way, so I might as well embrace it. And really, I like the idea of being ever-changing. The Mona Lisa is always exactly the same, century after century, and just hangs there in an environmentally controlled case in a museum. I don’t want to be preserved--I want to live. It’s a radical notion in our society not to cling to our youth, which of course makes it all the more appealing to me.

I’ve found a similar joy in treating Rising Shadow as a work in progress. In the last year since I first published it, I’ve learned a ton about writing, publishing, cover design, marketing, and young adult fiction. The beauty of having self-published using print-on-demand is that as I learned ways to improve my writing, I was able to make little tweaks to the book and upload the latest files. I have had over 50 reviews of Rising Shadow, and along the way, I got incredibly useful feedback, starting from the very first blogger review on the fabulous blog P.S. I Love Books.

If you make little changes that don’t affect the page count or resize the book, you can still use the same ISBN. But if you’re going to make more major changes, you’ll need a new ISBN. Recently, I went through Rising Shadow from cover to cover and did a thorough edit, hacking out anything that wasn’t necessary, tightening up the dialogue, and taking all the great feedback I’ve gotten to heart. I’ve redesigned the cover and am working on a consistent design concept for all five covers. So I’ll be using a new ISBN for the second edition of Rising Shadow, but since they sell ISBNs in packages of ten, I have enough for two editions of each of the books in the series.

That opportunity to revise my story has been one of the things that makes me so glad I self-published. The fact that you can learn from your readers and improve the story, that it’s not set in stone once it’s out in the world, is a wonderful thing. Of course, there comes a time when you have to let it go and move on, and the second edition of Rising Shadow is my final version. But it’s been a fantastic journey, and I’m so grateful to all the amazing people who took the time to read and review my book and shared their insights with me. As my birthday approaches in a couple weeks, I feel so grateful for all the people I’ve met through this process and for making the wishes I made when I blew out the candles last year come true.

So I’m looking forward to blowing out one more candle this year, to seeing where this journey takes me, and to getting book three finished. Because although Rising Shadow will finally be done, the series is definitely still a work in progress.

Just like me.