When you publish a new book, you must put aside all the volcanic exuberance generated by your previous work, and venture out again with renewed clarity and focus. You'll never be as naive you were the first time, but you may be as utterly awed—there's a difference. Though I'm nearing my pub date for The Salt God's Daughter, I've already learned many new things that bypassed me on the first book. I will talk about those in my next post. While writing The Salt God's Daughter was a thrill, I thought a lot about what it meant to go out there again after the publication of my first novel. It's clear that the second jump after the first ebullient sensation of flying is a vital one.
Regardless of the successes or barriers on this mercurial journey, each day requires that you start over, fresh. Refueling often and in myriad ways is important. All of the crafting and canoodling can take you far from your source and leave you hungry.
You should never go anywhere hungry, my mother used to say.
How then to find the path back to sustenance. Changing your stance about your work to get at the work itself can help. Approach it from a variety of angles. Try different approaches at different times. Here are five books that have provided sustenance for me at different stages of the game:
Ilie Ruby is the author of The Salt God's Daughter (forthcoming from Counterpoint/Soft Skull 9-4-12) and The Language of Trees (HarperCollins 2010). She has written for the New York Times and CNN and teaches writing in Boston. You can connect with Ilie on Facebook and Twitter, or on her website: www.ilieruby.com.