No creative work is born into the world without a team of midwives, doctors, and assorted helpers. Even when one person carries out the labor of love, the final product–if it’s any good–is the result of a collaborative process.
My novel IMMORTAL is no exception. I was pregnant when I started out, so I can give some credit to my now 3 year old daughter, who was kicking so hard I couldn’t sleep at 4:00 am. I wrote two chapters during the wakeful pre-dawn dusk which I gave to my oldest daughter. She raved about them. A few days later she came home from school and said, “I can’t stop thinking about your story. Write the rest, mom. I have to know what happens to Luca!” And that was the pivotal moment, when I knew I had something worth persevering with.
My editor at Bantam read the novel with exquisite attention and intelligence many times. She asked for five revisions, and her perceptions and insights were wonderful each time. I chafed at the slowness of the process, but I’m glad I did the revisions, and really glad she paid such careful attention, because this book is infinitely better than it would have been otherwise.
Various friends read drafts, lent research materials, and offered encouragement. My middle daughter, step-daughter, and mother were always ready to listen and offer loving support.
But no one has been more instrumental to IMMORTAL than my husband Sabin Howard. He read every word of every draft. And from the moment I met him, he has embodied ruthless, relentless artistic integrity. Whatever needs be done in the service of the art: that’s what a true artist does. For him, as a sculptor, if that means using a power saw to chop off an arm, then reweld the armature, then redo six months of work because the gesture and pose of his piece aren’t right–that’s what he’ll do. He doesn’t care how badly it makes him feel. He’s true to the sculpture.
With that kind of uncompromising integrity being modeled for me, I had a lot to live up to. I’ve been occasionally intimidated, but mostly inspired. And very grateful. To my family and friends, to my editor, and most of all, to Sabin.
Tuesday night we held a joint book launch/sculpture show at the Salmagundi Club, an old arts club in the village that is simultaneously vibrant and venerable. First we had a dinner, and I got to thank a lot of people in my life who have supported me along the way. I got to say “Thank you!” and “I love you!”, not to everyone who deserves it, but to many wonderful folks. How many opportunities in life do you get to do that? To speak your gratitude in public?
Then came the reading. I was surrounded by 9 of Sabin’s classical figures, and practically embraced by his gorgeous Aphrodite. The parlor was jammed with 75 to 80 people, and we ran out of books, which were being sold to benefit the Library Fund at the Salmagundi Club. People listened intently and asked terrific questions. It was an amazing experience.