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On New Year's Eve, 2000, kijjohnson got me this little fellow as a present for completing the rough draft for my novel, Transcendence, and submitting it to my agent (Algis Budrys at the time). That's about ten years ago, folks. A Daruma doll represents Bodhidharma (known as Daruma in Japan), the 5th-6th century Indian sage who founded Zen Buddhism. Here's my little Daruma on my bookshelves (that's him, near the robot and dog from Simak's City):



A Daruma doll symbolizes perseverance and good luck, a popular gift of encouragement in Japan (or Seattle, in this case). The idea is that you make a resolution and then paint in one of his eyes. If, during the year (or interim, in this case), you achieve your goal, you paint in the second eye, giving Daruma sight (or enlightenment). Then he's burned in the next New Year's ceremony. She also gave me her markups of the novel at that time, to add to a few others:



In the intervening ten years, the book has 1) had a (very slow) editor for a couple of years, 2) who became an agent and wanted to represent it rather than publish it, 3) whom I then dropped, feeling I couldn't trust him to responsibly represent me after all that, 4) whose former assistant (now an editor in his own right) requested that I send him the book (he'd liked it when he read it for editor1), 4) who turned out to be slow as well, and wanted me to send him the book I had just finished (Empire Ship), because it seemed an easier first book, 5) who got me all fired up with talk of scheduling when he'd publish Empire Ship followed by Transcendence, 6) who then got fired a couple of years later, so the book came back to me.

During those interminable waits, I 1) got myself an agent (Algis Budrys) who loved the book, 2) but who wanted me to cut it into a trilogy "with a satisfying conclusion and opening to each" because he thought that a long and thoughtful book like this would be a hard sell for a first-time novelist, 3) which set me back both mentally (How can I cut this up?) and time-wise, 4) who - when I wrote to him a few months later about changes - had grown ill, and 5) who soon pretty much ceased communicating with people, then 6) died.

At this point, a superstitious person might think that this book had killed the careers of two editors and literally killed an agent. Ahem. I became a bit gun-shy. Handily, at this point, I was working two jobs and killing myself slowly day by day, so I didn't have much time to get all angsty about it.

And then ericreynolds of Hadley Rille Books fame began to buy stories of mine for various anthologies that he was publishing at this vibrant new company. When he decided to start publishing novels, as well, 1) he asked me if I'd sold either of the completed novels excerpted on my website, and if not if I'd like to sell him a book. Would I! 2) Last fall, I sent him Transcendence; 3) in about a month, he said he wanted to buy it; 4) last winter, he sent me his edits; 5) a few weeks ago at ConQuest, I read the first few sections; 6) last week, he and I and the cover designer met to solidify the cover design; 7) and yesterday, I sent Eric my final edits.

Ten years in the making. Then, in a whirlwind of nine months, all this goodness happened. Happily, I discovered while doing this final, really deep revision, that I still really like this book. *whew*



In September of this year, Daruma will get his second eye, almost exactly one year from when I submitted the novel to Eric. I'm not sure that I'll be able to burn my little Daruma on this coming New Year's Eve after living with him for so long, but I guess that'd be the Zen thing to do.

Of course, for all this to come full-circle, Eric needs to survive the next few months - a challenge, considering the book's track record! But I'm optimistic that this is finally it, and that Eric has broken Daruma's curse, and that he will give the little guy his sight.

Chris

Comments

( 32 comments — Leave a comment )
clevermanka
Jun. 18th, 2010 09:11 pm (UTC)
So! Exciting! Wooo!
mckitterick
Jun. 19th, 2010 05:21 am (UTC)
Yes! Thank you!
m_danson
Jun. 18th, 2010 10:17 pm (UTC)
Wow. That makes getting it finally published even more impressive.
mckitterick
Jun. 19th, 2010 05:22 am (UTC)
Thanks! Though I don't know if it's impressive so much as fortunate ;-)
tmseay
Jun. 18th, 2010 10:27 pm (UTC)
Chris! This is wonderful, both for you and because it gave me the perfect gift idea for a friend who is about to take on a new project. Thank you kindly.
mckitterick
Jun. 19th, 2010 05:23 am (UTC)
Thanks, Thomas! And glad to be of help - Daruma is awesome.
drpaisley
Jun. 19th, 2010 12:44 am (UTC)
So you and this book are Spinal Tap, and Eric is the latest drummer?

Best of luck to you both.
mckitterick
Jun. 19th, 2010 05:24 am (UTC)
Hahahaha! Um, let's hope not....
(Deleted comment)
mckitterick
Jun. 19th, 2010 05:24 am (UTC)
Ha! He knows now....

Thank you!
dotar_sojat
Jun. 19th, 2010 01:54 am (UTC)
Hah! Congratulations!
mckitterick
Jun. 19th, 2010 05:24 am (UTC)
Thanks!
queenmomcat
Jun. 19th, 2010 02:36 am (UTC)
Here's to hoping that Daruma does in fact get his second eye this September. (I'm still boggling at the idea that one might have Algis Budrys as a literary agent--I know writers are real people, but to me, as a mere fan, this is something like Fredrik Pohl show up at my house with a bouquet expecting dinner.)
dsgood
Jun. 19th, 2010 03:55 am (UTC)
If I recall correctly, Pohl used to be an agent.
(no title) - mckitterick - Jun. 19th, 2010 05:27 am (UTC) - Expand
(no title) - queenmomcat - Jun. 19th, 2010 04:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no title) - mckitterick - Jun. 19th, 2010 05:26 am (UTC) - Expand
dsgood
Jun. 19th, 2010 03:54 am (UTC)
Congratulations!
mckitterick
Jun. 19th, 2010 05:27 am (UTC)
Thank you!
orrin
Jun. 19th, 2010 04:00 am (UTC)
Congrats!
mckitterick
Jun. 19th, 2010 05:28 am (UTC)
Thanks!
ericreynolds
Jun. 19th, 2010 05:09 am (UTC)
Chris, I see I have added incentive to see this project through to completion. Maybe I just won't leave the house for the next few months. But then, there are always to pesky meteors to watch out for. And I think I heard a statistic that one is safer in a jet seven miles up than in one's own living room. So I'll just avoid the living room for a few months.
mckitterick
Jun. 19th, 2010 05:29 am (UTC)
Ha! Yeah, stay away from meteors and living rooms. Also lightning.
(no title) - ericreynolds - Jun. 19th, 2010 05:32 am (UTC) - Expand
(no title) - mckitterick - Jun. 19th, 2010 05:36 am (UTC) - Expand
kimberlywade
Jun. 19th, 2010 03:35 pm (UTC)
What a fantastic story! Thanks for sharing this. My novel, Thrall, will be coming out with Hadley Rille this Sept. as well. I could tell a similiar story about its journey, but it only last three and half years -- and nobody died. It wasn't my first novel, though, maybe the fifth. Perserverance is key!

And i love your title! Best of luck!
mckitterick
Jun. 19th, 2010 04:46 pm (UTC)
Perserverance is key

You said it! This is a key message for beginning writers, but especially for aspiring novelists: It usually doesn't happen the way it does in the movies, with editors hunting you down with garlands of flowers and six-figure contracts....
(no title) - tully01 - Jun. 19th, 2010 05:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no title) - mckitterick - Jun. 19th, 2010 05:51 pm (UTC) - Expand
silverfae
Jun. 19th, 2010 09:07 pm (UTC)
Man, that's an impressive story, C.
what, you expected any less from naming a story "Trancendence"?

My website, which is sorely decrepit, is tranceNdance, and orginally what I had thought was a cute play on spelling, became my messterpiece. It's now a sad page, lonely and abandoned despite my monthly payment to yahoo.

You, have finally Transcended.. to the Real. I'm so excited for you!

Hmmm..the missing eye. How cool is that?
I wonder if that motif has anything to do with Nefertiti having only one eye?
I get chills at the idea!

mckitterick
Jun. 20th, 2010 03:33 am (UTC)
If I'd been able to think of a more appropriate but less "challenging" title, I would have!

I didn't know all that about Nefertiti, including the wrinkled version under the smooth exterior. Huh!
kijjohnson
Jun. 22nd, 2010 02:38 am (UTC)
That is so wonderful, Chris. You'll just have to get another Daruma, a bigger one, and an even bigger dream to go with it!
mckitterick
Jun. 22nd, 2010 02:40 am (UTC)
Yes!

Thanks so much for giving him to me in the first place. Though I have to admit that I couldn't look at him for a few years there, once I started to believe again, seeing him provided eternal hope.
( 32 comments — Leave a comment )

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