[Note: For reasons that will be apparent in a moment, when I read Phyllis' Sunday column about the thrill of opening a box of advance copies of her new novel, I emailed the rest of the group and said I couldn't put my own essay up today. They told me to quit whining and deliver. Or words to that effect.]
Arrived home from work on Friday to find a box from Simon & Schuster on my doorstep. Inside were ten copies of Star Trek Corps of Engineers: Out of the Cocoon -- an omnibus of former e-books that includes my own Honor. I know from my experience with Orphans in Grand Designs that even though Honor has been on the market for half a decade, more people will read it now that it's part of a "real" book than bought the digital version. I anticipate a deluge of one, maybe even two, emails and nearly a dozen first-time visitors to my Livejournal (which is not about writing as much as I meant for it to be).
The book itself is beautiful (though I confess for me the most attractive thing about a book cover is my name) and all pages seem present. I am particularly satisfied to be sharing this volume with three of my favorite compatriots from my brief tour in the Star Trek writing stable. Phaedra Weldon has been a good – though long distance – friend for something like a decade. We met in Trek, and at the Oregon Coast Writers' Workshops, and wandered into BattleTech together. She has gone on to write very successful urban fantasies and keeps threatening to build a young adult urban fantasy series around a trio of psychic sleuths that includes two of my children. William Leisner and I were in Strange New Worlds #s IV and V together. But for me his greatest claim to fame is that he was once willing to collaborate with me on pitching a Star Trek novel to Pocket Books. (As I recall it was a DS9/Powerpuff Girls crossover.) We didn't get the contract, but I enjoyed brainstorming our way through the plot and outline together. Though I've never met him in person, Bob Jeschonek and I used to correspond fairly regularly. He has one of the most interesting minds I've met; his "Whatever You Do, Don't Read This Story" (in Strange New Worlds III) remains one of my top-10 favorites of all time – in any genre.
I will never forget the first time I saw the anthology containing "Personal Log," my first professional sale. It was May of 2001, and I was rounding an endcap in Barnes & Noble, en route to the science fiction section, when I unexpectedly found myself nose-to-nose with Strange New Worlds IV. I let out a falsetto yelp (followed by a big show of looking around as though I could not imagine where the sound had come from) then snatched the book from the shelf. I read my story standing in the aisle, then bought the book so I could take it home to show my wife Valerie.
One thing I noticed then, something that's been a constant every time I've first held one of my books: There is a particular thrill to holding a book you have written – or have had a part in writing – in your hand. Most singular is the fact the volume has no weight; it seems to hold your hand up by the sheer energy of its existence. And that thrill has not diminished. Though I no longer yelp, I still experience a frission at first contact with the physical reality that has sprung, concrete and irrefutable, from weeks and months of thought and effort and creative discipline. Though this spark is not what drives me forward as a writer, as a reward for work well done, it's more than cool.
I cannot imagine ever growing tired of that moment.
So now I have ten – make that nine, since my youngest has appropriated one – copies of Out of the Cocoon. One of them will be awarded randomly to a person who tells me she or he would like it in their comment.