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JV
Posted on Tuesday, April 06, 2004 - 09:16 pm:   

http://trashotron.com/agony/index.htm

The Agony Column is running my 15,000-word article/essay on the travails of creating City of Saints and getting it into print. It will all be posted by around noon tomorrow, but I'll already be in transit to the UK, so I'm giving you a heads up now. Please check it out if you get a chance.

I will follow this up with an essay on the making of the essay, just as soon as I finish revising yet another version of the book. ;)

I hope the article will be of interest not only to those who have bought City of Saints, but also to beginning writers whose work is idiosyncratic and hard to market. It was something I felt I had to write, to chronicle that insane time, and to kind of get it out of my system.

Jeff
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JV
Posted on Tuesday, April 06, 2004 - 10:00 pm:   

Actually, the first part is up now. The promo copy they're running reads:

Jeff VanderMeer's story of the long strange trip to Ambergris and City of Saints and Madmen, the definitive edition now out from Pan/Macmillan
UK. A compelling and hilarious account of creative obsession, perseverance and squid-o-philia. Not for the squiddish. Or maybe,
exclusively for the squiddish.

The direct link to the file is:

http://trashotron.com/agony/columns/2004/04-06-04-1.htm
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D Dave Larsen
Posted on Wednesday, April 07, 2004 - 02:44 am:   

Even if you didn't give a flying flap about Jeff or Ambergris or City of Saints (we all know better) - you should read this essay. I don't think I've ever read a more agonizing and heroic personal memoir; you might say getting City published properly was Jeff's own (rather extended) Festival Night...
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John Klima
Posted on Wednesday, April 07, 2004 - 10:19 am:   

Yes, this essay is quite good. It made me pull my Prime hardcover off the shelf and re-read a bunch of it. It also made me go through it with a fine-tooth comb, checking over the images, etc. I'm not sure where in the process I got my copy (it feels like it was always a part of my collection) but it's very clean. I would never guess it was a POD book if I hadn't known. I really want to get a PanMac edition now so I can complete the set: Cosmos, Prime, and PanMac.

JK
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Robert Devereux
Posted on Wednesday, April 07, 2004 - 01:27 pm:   

The PanMac edition is nice - I got mine two days ago. I haven't gone over the glossary in complete detail, but some illustrations in it are different.

It was interesting to read "Learning to Leave the Flesh" and then read the essay. When I was reading LtLtF, I was thinking "it's a good story, and I can see how some of the ideas were developed in a different way in Dradin." Then I saw the essay and saw that was part of the intention when writing Dradin.
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JV
Posted on Wednesday, April 07, 2004 - 02:08 pm:   

And part 2 is now up

http://trashotron.com/agony/columns/2004/04-07-04-2.htm

Sitting in the Cincinnati airport waiting for the plane.

Jeff
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Bowen Mendenhall
Posted on Wednesday, April 07, 2004 - 10:24 pm:   

Only thirty people told you they attempted the decoding? Well, I may have devalued my copy, (although after I die and become famous it will be worth even more), but I decoded it as well as I could. Tomorrow I'm buying the PanMac edition from UK Amazon, and I plan to decode that one too, without referring to the Prime hardcover. I guess I'm just a glutton for punishment.
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Rajan Khanna
Posted on Thursday, April 08, 2004 - 08:04 pm:   

I read the first part of that today and was very impressed. I had no idea the amount of work and time that went into it. It's very illuminating for someone like me, but also inspiring.
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Luís
Posted on Friday, April 09, 2004 - 05:52 am:   

I decoded part of the story, but since the unobfuscated version can be found in a nook of new Ambergris site, I think I'll let the lazy half (more like 90%) of me take over. Still, it was an interesting experience, like a blind man feeling for the thread of words in the dark.

Best,
Luís
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Jason Erik Lundberg
Posted on Friday, April 09, 2004 - 06:00 am:   

Excellent essay, JeffV. Man, I had no idea what you went through with this book. The OED needs to be revised to have your name under the definition of "perseverance."
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steve redwood
Posted on Wednesday, May 12, 2004 - 09:57 am:   

Just read all the thread. Agree with John Klima, I’m perfectly happy with my Prime Ambergris hardcover.

This real history of Ambergris is fascinating and both uplifting and depressing, and look forward to the essay on the essay!

But it does reveal the Seven-fold Path to Success:

1. Mule genes.

2. Direct Line to Muse. “One night I woke…with a vision of Ambergris in my head…. The city existed complete within me.” Unfair advantage. It’s called Muse-hogging! Inspiration-snatching! (I too wake up at night, but only with a blank mind, and an urgent need to reach the bathroom.)

3. A Good Lady to support and encourage you. (My lady at time of writing Fisher of Devils fell asleep reading first page. I threw her without compunction to the mushroom dwellers.)

4. Engage and enrage your fighting spirit. Have an editor ask you to re-set your novel in 1900s Paris and remove all Grey Caps! (We know exactly what McEnroe would have said! I assume she no longer has her job.) Let’s remove the orcs from LOTR while we’re about it.

5. Get “publicity right before and after the initial publication date…. the most critical phase of a book’s life…” (Somehow I didn’t even get mentioned on the Prime newsletter! I was, I fear, their black toadstool.)

6. AND DO IT YOURSELF! “I personally sent out hundreds of copies to reviewers…spending thousands of dollars…” Very wise. (In my innocence, I thought publishers did that)

7. Oh, and it also helps to write a fantastic book! (I’ll try that next time!)

(Strange coincidence, by the way: I too was an Imaginary Worlds man, passed on to Prime.)

But I’m very surprised at the problems you had publishing the original novellas. Blimey (as they say in Blackpool – lovely place, by the way, you ought to go there sometime!), if something of that obvious quality couldn’t find a home…

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