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 Amazon.com 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!)