Book in Hand – An Existential Moment

I came home last night to a box of books written by yours truly.

The book has finally come out.  After months of effort – writing, rewriting, editing, chewing my fingernails while it went into the blackhole of MGM only to emerge months later (in all fairness, the person in charge of licensing at MGM has a ton on her plate).

It’s been a year since I actually delivered the first draft of FOUR DRAGONS.  It’s pretty amazing when you think about the efforts involved.  Even in a media tie-in novel, there’s still an original plot which is mine to craft and mine to screw-up…and fix!  There’s still efforts which are yours (or mine in this case) and there was quite a bit of effort involved in getting this thing to the printed page.

So there I was…when I got the box of books…  I opened up the box eagerly, pulled one out, saw my name (and hey! It was spelled right.  That was kinda neat).  The cover is gorgeous.

Then I hefted it in my hand.  It weighs maybe 6 ounces.  It’s a tiny little thing.  Now mind you, I wrote it intentionally to be a quick read because, after all, the Stargate SG-1 novels are a form of pop fiction — or pulp fiction as it were.  I’m not an idiot.  I’m not pretending this is the great American novel.  It’s entertainment.  Don’t get me wrong, there’s definitely a few themes I run through FOUR DRAGONS, and there’s certainly some heart… or, at least I hope the reader sees that.

But really, what strikes me–holding this book in my hand–is how LITTLE it is.  How SMALL it is.  How FINITE it is after a year’s work.  It was really an existential moment of realizing that all your efforts–all that you do–comes down to the tangible results at the end of the day.  All those months of effort all boil down to 6 ounces of paper.

That’s it.  So, yeah.  A bit of an existential moment.

Other thoughts that may seem related or not:

As I mentioned last week, Antarctica is right around the corner for me in December.  I’ve been rereading Ernest Shackleton’s memoirs on The Endurance Expedition.  If you haven’t read South– you should.  Shackleton’s extraordinary devotion to keeping his expedition team alive despite unimaginable challenges including the loss of their ship, months of living on an ice floe,  pushing everyone to survive through challenges of nature beyond anything you can imagine… He didn’t lose one member of his team.  His memoir is a perfect demonstration of why thinking ahead — not an hour, not a day, but weeks and months ahead — THAT is what saved him and his team.  When The Endurance was first locked into the ice near the Antarctic Circle, he began planning for the worse and hoping for the best.  That planning is what saved his team 7 months later when the ice squeezed the ship into pulverized wood and bits of flotsam.  Because of his pre-planning and forethought, and because he kept his team focused on the determination to survive and find rescue, THEY DID survive.

What does this have to do with my existential moment?  There’s a phrase I came upon when reading a passage of SOUTH today:

Human effort is not futile, but man fights against the giant forces of nature in a spirit of humility.

Going  back to my existential reaction to my first book being published… Yeah, it’s only 6 ounces.  Yeah, the world-at-large has bigger issues to contend with than a little bound bit of paper.   Five years from now, this book will be collecting dust on people’s bookshelves.  I recognize that.

But what I also recognize as I move forward in writing my next book, and planning the next one after that, and after that, is that…as cliche as it may sound…it’s not about the destination.  It’s not about having your name in print or on the screen (and if you know me, you know that I’ve had my name in plenty of television series and films so this is nothing new).

It’s about the journey…as cliche as that may be.  And lets not forget, cliches can be cliches for a good reason and in this case, the reason is more than good.  In this case, it’s about writing to enjoy the process, not the end game.

When we stop focusing on WHERE WE ARE and WHAT WE ARE EXPERIENCING and instead focus on the final point, that end game, I think we lose what makes each and every one of us a unique and precious being.  It’s about living our lives.  It’s not about the beginning: BEING BORN– and then dying: THE END.  It’s about everything that happens in between.