Writing, unfortunately, isn’t a very straightforward job – in a lot of ways you come to each project fresh and recreate your working methods. I don’t know if you’ve ever done something that I like to do when it comes to my favourite writers, which is to look at the dates when they published each of their books, and to imagine what was happening in their life or in the world at the time, and what might have led them to produce those pieces of work, or what might have halted or interrupted their creative process. Often, you’ll notice some kind of regularity – perhaps one book published every two years, or every four years (or every ten years, for a writer as meticulous and patient as Donna Tartt!). Often there will be prolific periods or periods of steady progress. But often, you’ll also notice a gap between publication years, almost as if the writer skipped a book, with no explanation, and went silent for a while. I think the reason for this is that sometimes, without warning, one particular book can end up requiring more difficult or indirect working methods, or taking a longer time to get right. The Lit and Unlit World has been one such book for me, which is why I find myself still working hard on the final draft.
Around the end of last year, I was hopeful that I was finishing the book at last, after a year of work on a version of the book that ultimately wasn’t right, and another year and a half of work on a completely new book which I had to build up again from the beginning. The process was going well, and so I was eager to share an update, and I tried to make my best guess of when the book might be ready. But unfortunately, disappointing as it was to realise after all the work I’d put in, the writing still wasn’t finished with that draft. From the messages and comments you send me, I often find myself touched by how warmly you have embraced The House at the Edge of Night. But that confirms to me that it’s my job to persist until I can give you another book of equal worth, without taking any shortcuts in the process. And so unfortunately that means there aren’t really any measures that I can take to finish the book more quickly, except going ahead with the patient writing process that the story has required and finding the right working methods. Though I’m happy with the version of the book I’m writing now, I know that I wouldn’t have had that book to share with you without all the extra thinking and drafting work I’ve put in. So it’s been worth it to persist, but I do know that these kinds of unexpectedly slow books require a lot of patience on the part of readers. With that in mind I don’t want to make any promises I can’t keep about the publication schedule, but what I will try to do is post more regular updates and reply to any questions you send me (here, on Facebook, on Instagram or via email – I’m always happy to receive them!) and to stay more connected while I’m working on the final draft.
So I will try to share more in the coming weeks. In the meantime I am sending you my warmest greetings from Turin, and hoping this message finds you as well and safe as possible wherever in the world you are reading from. And it also comes with humble gratitude for your ongoing patience!
All the best, and more soon,