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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Labor of Love

It's unusual for me to disclose through a personal post, but I've been having a very hard time lately.  My novel (ten years in the making) has been out in the world, making its way.  It was read by two very trusted readers in the business, as well as not read by a few others (my agent, for instance).  Those who have read it think that the first part of the book really works, but the rest doesn't.  You'd think this news would be crushing, after all the time and effort I've put in, but I have to tell you I am feeling relieved.  In part, I'm so happy to have my novel back. My wrinkled, blue, just-born, not-yet-perfect novel (See image above: can one of those be shoved back in?).

During the time when I thought I was finished, I felt aimless and distraught.  I tried to bring back a couple of half-hearted new novel attempts, started at different points in the past decade, but I couldn't get my enthusiasm up. Is this because somewhere deep inside I knew the novel wasn't really right yet? Because I knew it wouldn't get published and ultimately it wouldn't be free of me (or me of it)? Or am I destined to feel this way at the completion of every overwhelming opus? (Will there be another?  Couldn't I just retire happily as a bank clerk somewhere in the Midwest?)  

Anyway, I have a fairly radical idea about how to address the problem of the second part of the novel not standing up to the opening.  And so I am with purpose and happy again.  I think this time I can make the entire book work, not just parts of it.  If so, I will let go more easily, right?  (Someone say right.) 

In the meantime, this particular carefully placed round of rejections have been very helpful in allowing me to see the novel more clearly.  You gotta love when that happens.  Not to invest too much gratitude in the old literary rejection (most of them just plain suck), but I think I played this round pretty well.  I only asked a few trustworthy people and got the same answer back.  I still have to figure out what to do, but at least I have a direction.

So, anyway, peeps, I'm back at it again.  And I'm weirdly happy about it.  I have my ugly little baby back in my arms, I guess. What a life we choose (or chooses us) when we set out to write a novel.  Sometimes I think I'm plain crazy.


Anonymous said...

That's one ugly baby/novel you got there! No wonder you can't get it published.

Just kidding.

They get cuter as they mature. I should know; I have a few of my own (novels and kids).

Steve said...

Good to hear your diving back in, W,R. This a spiritual quest. Something will be revealed to you that you could have learned no other way. And when the rest of us read the published version, we will be the recipients of a truly wonderful gift.

Anonymous said...

Is that baby, like, real? It's scary. Like anon above, I have a few of those, but I remember they were sort of attractive when they came out into the world. Of course, I was out of my mind with fatigue and the whole thing really hurt, so who knows what I was seeing.

The novel/useful rejection experience though -- that is not scary at all. It's very inspiring and you are right, right, right to take the feedback you received and get back to work on the book. I think you do know when feedback is correct and when it's really nuts. It's good to hear you sounding fired up to get on with the second half of your book.

Someday, you know, you're going to have to out yourself so we can buy that book.

Writer, Rejected said...

I'll drink to that. I'll come out and invite you all to the book party.

z said...

You know, WR (we have the same initials), it is really, really nice to read a more personal post on your blog. I for one would love to read more updates on your writing process, interspersed with the usual fare of humorous witty reporting of rejection anecdotes. It gives your blog more heart and soul.

rmellis said...

Excellent! I wish you the best. I for one wish I could do anything besides write. I wish my parents had given me piano lessons, trumpet lessons, anything! But I know if I quit writing I'll never stop thinking about it, and will be cursing myself on my deathbed. Oh, well. I guess we're doomed.

That baby looks just like my kids did. They look better now.

Anonymous said...

When you're ready to let it go, you will.

Meantime, get back to it.

I'm fixing to start working on my first within the year. We'll see how it goes.