It’s Good to be Back

When I signed my first book contract in the spring of 2012, my publisher and I envisioned Control Group as the third book in the Cooper McKay series. We set a target date for publication of February 2015. “Plenty of time to get it right,” we thought. Indeed, I had completed the first draft ten years before that projected date. But time has offered me a perspective that has helped to reframe—and to improve—the story. Those two additional years have given Control Group what it has needed to be the novel it should be.

A run down of the last 13 years in the life of Control Group looks like this:

  • 4 months writing the first draft
  • 1 week wondering if this was the next great American novel
  • (All of the remaining weeks since realizing it was not)
  • 1 month workshopping the novel (in four 1-week blocks over 4 years) at the Santa Barbara Writer’s Conference
  • 5 years improving the narrative arc, character development, plot, pacing, and writing technique
  • After that, 5 more years sitting on the shelf, making way for Blood Money and Command and Control
  • Then, a book contract and a rebirth
  • 1 year eviscerating the original manuscript, extracting the first protagonist, dialing back the story twenty years, inserting Mackie’s storyline, and stitching it back together by re-typing it
  • 1 year editing, including adding in “Meredith’s” story line and the “Present Day” framing
  • Sprinkled throughout, lots of corrections, rephrasing, word-smithing, and editing.

Had Control Group come out when I wanted it to, months after completing the first draft of what was then my first try at writing a novel, I never would have known what kind of a writer I could become. It is unquestionably improved because of the editorial advice I have received over the years. It is also better because it was given time to grow into the novel it could become.

I’ve learned that there are seasons of writing that don’t always involve new words. Seasons of creativity and seasons of revision. Seasons of preparation and seasons of release.

I’m now moving into a season of publication.

It’s good to be back.