Erwin Schrödinger was driving along at a brisk clip when he caught sight of blue lights in his rear view mirror. He pulled to the side of the road and rolled down his window. The police officer walked up to the window and said, “Sir, you were driving awfully fast. I’m going to need to search the car.” The officer found nothing in the front and back seats, so he continued on to the trunk, where he made a disgusting discovery. He walked back to Schrödinger. “Sir, did you know you had a dead cat in your trunk?”
Schrödinger threw his hands in the air. “Well, I do now!”
(Sorry, but I love science jokes. If you’re at a loss as to why this is hilarious, feel free to go here for background. I’ll wait. *smile*)
There is something so magical about waiting for something, about not knowing for sure what I’ll find when I open the box. I remember when I was waiting for Tim Powers’ book Last Call to hit the stands. It was 1992, nearly three years since The Stress of Her Regard came out, and the wait had been excruciating and delicious. The only thing better than the days leading up to the book’s release was the actual release date. I held that book in my hands, stroking the cover and wondering what amazing adventure I was about to experience. If I remember correctly, I even waited a few days to begin reading. As long as I didn’t open it, that book could be the most amazing book I’d ever read (in much the same way Schrödinger’s cat’s condition isn’t certain.) I’ve never had a problem waiting between books. For me, it’s much the same as waiting for Christmas to come. Even when I was a kid, I loved the run-up best. Christmas Eve was bliss, and on Christmas morning, I was the one who insisted we eat breakfast before opening presents, just to drag the thrill out a little longer. Unwrapped presents are thrilling, and books I wait for are a joy.
I can’t tell you how sad and confused it makes me when people announce that they never read a series until all the books are on the market. It happens all the time at the library. People ask me for recommendations, so I steer them toward new series I think they’ll like. The minute I say something like “This is the first in a new series” or “The third book is due out next year.” they look as if I’ve beaten their puppy. “I can’t wait that long,” they tell me. “If all the books aren’t out already, I won’t read any of them.” But what was even worse was a comment some time ago, right here on MW, when David was talking about the upcoming Thieftaker series. Someone actually said that May 2012 (the release date at the time) was “too long to wait.” My heart broke to hear that. Too long? Why? Unless you’re planning on leaving the planet for a twelve year mission to Jupiter before the book comes out, I can’t understand what “too long” even means.
Except that it might mean someone won’t buy David’s book when it does come out, for fear that she’ll have to wait a little longer for the next one. A writer’s career can fail on the basis of sales. If I’ve planned a five book series, and books one and two get great reviews but hardly anyone buys them, it won’t matter how good the stories were – there probably won’t be any more. So the writer should write faster, yes? Well, no. I mean, we can. We can skip those pesky annoyances like sleep and day jobs and turn into drooling zombies (the old-fashioned kind that do nothing but shamble around) and use our extra time to write twice as fast as usual, but the publisher can only schedule books when they have room to do so. As fast as we try to write, no one’s five-book series is released at once. Doesn’t happen. The fact is that writing takes longer than reading. It can’t be helped, no matter how fast we writers would like to create more stories for our readers.
So if you’re out there in the world, and you hear someone declaring that they never read a series until all the books are out, please step up. Tell the person that patience is a virtue, the cat may be alive and well and sometimes the wait is worth it.