Friday, January 21, 2011

The Drawing Board

This photo, taken by Alec Hendrix in 2007, shows Coffeyville, KS after a terrifying flood. Some died, and many lost their homes to the flooding.

It is also the inspiration for my second novel, which I am now, after a year of working on other projects, revising. Writing the novel accomplished a few things. It started me thinking about a lot of religious and spiritual elements in my life. It got me to the top 100 entries in the Breakthrough Novel Contest. It even helped me work on some family issues.

Looking back over it, I'm grateful that it got me this far, but I also see that it isn't going to get me any farther. In fact, it's pretty much crap.

And I don't mean that in a nice, pseudo-humble sort of way. It sucks. It's overall plot is more than far-fetched, its detail and characters lacking, its ending far from meaningful. Besides a few kernels of brightness shining, like sunlight on water at sunset, it's pretty much muddy ooze.

Fortunately, I had one reader who told me so. And I also had the wisdom to let the thing sit longer than overnight--I waited a YEAR to come back to it--so that I could come back with renewed perspective and shred and reshape the novel into what it is supposed to be.

I'm off to work on my piece of crap. Perhaps, if I can replace the rotting wood and moldy drywall, I can get the structure of it back into shape. I pretty much have a blank slate, so I'll move walls, tear down a few useless rooms, add a bathroom, finish the attic properly, and put a playset in the backyard. I'll wait on the painting, shutters, and landscaping until the last, when the plan is exactly what it needs to be.

Here's hoping you have the guts to shred your own masterpieces... to carve them into their true form...

Cheers! (Now get to work!)


  1. good luck with your novel reshaping. it sounds like it'll be a big job but one i'm sure you can handle. have a great day.

  2. I have faith you can make your novel into something wonderful.

    Best of luck, and thx for the post… I hope I have what it takes to “shred” my work. I guess we’ll find out together.

  3. I sorry.

    If it makes you feel better, I'm shredding pretty hard on my latest "masterpiece" itself. And even when I do, I don't know if it will be more than a shack.

    If it makes you feel better, I love you.

  4. All of mine are currently on hold. Hard to think about fiction and fun when you're knee deep in medical records.

  5. Thanks, Naquility! Maybe some day my third or fourth draft will be great. Maybe not. So far, it's been not... but I'm patient, determined, and really, really stubborn.

    Jeff, I know you will get there. Let me know when you're ready to work on it. Right now I'm pretty much made of time, and helping you with your stuff will give my a break from my own.

    Stephanie, you and NeeNee are the two readers who gave me the best criticism for the novel. Her comment was, "What happened to Rachel?" and I realized that halfway through the novel several of my characters completely disappear. NOT good. I'm glad I didn't go right back to it, though, for some of the development I've been doing in my own head has prepared me for now.

    The Mother, I cringe just thinking about all the medical records. I'm afraid working on the computer would be impossible for me given that reality. You'd find me on the kitchen floor, in the fetal position, my arms wrapped around a half-eaten chocolate cake. Hopefully you will get out from under the pile of records and get to do something you WANT to do.

  6. Yippee! I'm so glad you are working on Mariah's Ark again. The story is redeemable, and I look forward to reading the next version.

  7. I have carved the hell out of all my novels and still even after 5+ edits wouldn't submit one of them to anywhere but the archives.

    Better luck and vision than mine to you Shakes.