4.23.2012

The Unexpectedly Completed Novel and Other Unexpected Good Fortune

It's official. The first novel I ever attempted to write has now become my third completed book. You can read the blurb in my portfolio.

At any rate, The Last Supper was one of those stories that had always burned a bright fire in my brain. From the moment I woke up with the remnants of a dream in my head about a man poisoning himself with a death kit described as a four-course meal, followed by a blazing two-day writing session that resulted in a 16,000 word novella of the same title (same basic ideas and characters, but without a lot of the mysticism), to the moment when I became sure that there was so much more to the story and embarked on an ambitious expansion that resulted in the currently 85,000 word book, I knew that this story had to come to fruition one way or another. (That was a long ass sentence, eh?)

But the writing wasn't without its difficulties. I wrote 70,000 words and then hit a wall. For whatever reason, I was attacked by a crisis of confidence, and I wasn't sure how to end the thing. Then I got started on several other projects, and the likelihood of returning to the book became less and less. Over that time, I became more convinced that the story was a throwaway and that it would never see the light of day in its current form.  At one point, I thought I needed to just start over and rewrite it completely in the third person. That never quite got off the ground. Most recently, I thought I would do a full rewrite and re-imagining of it for my last NaNoWriMo project, but my in-progress book, The Shiva Paradox, ended up taking its place.

It wasn't until I was discussing some back burner projects with my friend and partner in crime, Vincent Hobbes, that the subject of The Last Supper came up. I was trying to think of my one project that was closest to completion, and that was it. I then decided to open the file for the first time in three years just to survey the damage. I knew it was going to be an awful, overwrought, purple and nonsensical mess.

Imagine my surprise when I found that to be NOT TRUE. It's amazing what three years can do to one's perception of a project. It has a miraculous way of bringing things full circle and completely resetting the emotion button. You come to it with completely clear eyes, no longer clouded by failed confidence or warped expectations. You can clearly see the plot path before you where it once looked completely tangled and impassible. Oh sure, it needed a little work, but surprisingly very little for something so old. I saw a story written by someone who was a little green, but who was also completely unrestrained and unafraid to write from the gut. In many ways, I was reminded by how much I'd changed as a writer over the years, and not always for the better. My technique has somewhat improved, but my artistry has regressed a little as I've tried to gain more recognition in the professional sense. I've known this for quite sometime, but nothing proved it more than reading that old manuscript of mine again and being shocked at every turn that I had actually written something so goddamn...good!

While I don't think I can let every piece of my work sit for three years before completing it, I've learned a very valuable lesson in how I need to get a little more outside my own head and trust my instincts more. I was able to feed off that belief enough to finish the story, and now I have a completed draft that I am quite proud of. Will anyone else like it? That's the ultimate question. I'm getting it polished and ready to send to Hobbes End Publishing very soon.

Speaking of which, I really need to give a shout out to the team over at Hobbes End (Jairus, Abby, Vincent -- you ROCK!). Here is a small publisher that really has its head on straight. Down the line, at every turn, the folks here have done stellar work. They love writing, are full of ambition, and they know how this business works. And they have done so much for my career in the last few months. Most recently, they've launched a GoodReads ad campaign that will help my work reach more readers. There are even bigger things on the horizon that I can't wait to tell people about, but trust me, meeting Vincent Hobbes and his team has been the greatest karmic gift I've received in awhile, and I have never been more enthusiastic about the future.