There's a Microsoft Word file on my laptop dated April 29, 2003, which contains the first thoughts on my novel. What's striking is that when I went back, three years later, upon completion of the draft, the book I'd written was very much the book I'd envisioned. My conception appears to have been pretty clear from the outset.
Regular TEV readers have been following the progress of the book. First came the "rough first", the draft that carried me across the finish line for the first time. Then came the "show people" draft and, finally, the submission draft.
The submission draft found a home last Wednesday, when Bloomsbury bought my novel.
There were notable steps along the way which, being an oddly superstitious creature, I kept to myself. But events basically unfolded thus:
Early in November I began soliciting agents. I made a fast and strong connection with Simon Lipskar of Writers House who loved the book. More importantly, though, he clearly got the book - I could tell that we were talking about the same work, that he saw it the way I did. And his passion for the book and his confidence seemed boundless. I flew back to NY to meet him in person, and we were off to the races.
He requested two very minor changes, which I pulled together during the Christmas holidays. The book went out on January 15. Things happened all during the subsequent period (about which I'll remain maddeningly discreet) and last Wednesday, Simon called to tell me we'd gotten the offer, which we accepted joyfully.
I couldn't be happier about being published by Bloomsbury, a great, literary house that's published the likes of William Boyd, David Leavitt, Alan Hollinghurst and even John Banville. (His non-fiction Prague Pictures was for Bloomsbury.)
To answer some anticipated questions:
Q: What's it called?
A: HARRY, REVISED
Q: What's it about?
A: Here's what Bloomsbury's release says, which is much better than anything I could come up with:
Harry, Revised is the hilarious and tender story of Harry Rent, a guilt-ridden, down-on-his-luck widower, who tries to reinvent himself following his wife’s untimely death. His emotional journey takes him from his own solipsistic and outrageously misdirected fantasies about an obsidian-haired, twenty-two-year-old waitress at his local greasy spoon, to the tenuous beginnings of an actual, personal transformation. At once deeply moving and darkly comedic, Harry, Revised is an extraordinary novel about the measure of a man's worth by a wonderful, emerging talent.
Q: When is it coming out?
A: They're showing a Winter 2008 publication date.
Q: Will you keep blogging?
A: Of course.
Q: So you didn't start you blog just to sell your book?
A: No. When I started the book, I had no reason to think it wouldn't be yet another 50-page false start.
Q: Did having a blog make it easier for you?
A: It's undeniable that the blog helped but only in getting me over the threshold and perhaps moving me into a higher place on the list. But both Simon's decision to represent the work and Bloomsbury's decision to publish the book really appear to have been based purely on the merits of the work.
Q: Are you going to stop being critical now that you're part of the "establishment"?
A: Fuck, no.
Honestly, I'm still a bit numb but I can't think of a better way to go off into a new marriage. I'm sure there will be plenty more to say as the book moves through the process toward publication but for now, I wanted to celebrate with all of you.