I handed in Echopraxia (aka Dumbspeech) yesterday.
Hold your applause; I still don’t think it’s ready. I am very happy with parts of it. Other parts are so clunky I’d have to kill you if you saw them. A couple of elements have become gratuitous in light of recent changes to the story; they’re still cool conceptually, but they don’t advance the plot and I think I’m going to cut them. (The good news is that at least one of those elements would fit better into Intelligent Design anyway, so I can still explore the theme.) I’m even contemplating cutting a quarter of the book entirely — it’s mainly just setup anyway — and squeezing its essential bits into other places.
There’s also the inevitable case of Bioshock 2 syndrome — the bolt-between-the-eyes punch line has already been delivered, so how can any followup be anything other than denouement? I’m dealing with that by using that punch line to inform new themes — the role of humanity in a post-human world, the ass-backwards premise that god might exist after all (albeit in not quite the way the guys in the funny hats have told us). Whether that sleight-of-hand is sufficiently distracting, only time will tell.
In an ideal world I would continue to experiment: move pieces around, try out different scenarios, tweak and twiddle until it was as perfect as I could make it. There are other considerations, though: other projects on the go, a publishing schedule, a new editor who has been more than patient and insanely gracious over all my delays. And I’ve been too close to this book for too long for anything approaching objectivity; I’m even beginning to hate the good parts. So I’m going to have to be content with the fact that I have at least crafted a coherent story, if not a consistently compelling one; that it says what I wanted it to, if not as eloquently as it could; hand it off to an experienced professional and let him do his job. Hopefully, a few months down the road, the diagnosis will be in, my eyes will be less glazed, and the prognosis will be good. Right now I’m just gonna let someone else deal with the fucking thing for a while.
If it’s any consolation, this was pretty much the way I felt about Blindsight at this stage.