Put this one in the category of never giving up on a project.
About 10-12 years ago I got up the gumption to write a novel – something I had never attempted before. I had a certain premise in mind, 3 generations of Americans who had somehow been affected by Vietnam – one at the tail end of WWII, the other during the Vietnam War, and the third in modern day Vietnam. I even fleshed out the opening scene which would help thrust the story into action, a tragic accident upon which the rest of the story would hinge. It was perfect in my mind, and so I tried.
I wrote the opening few pages of the first chapter. And then I stopped.
I reread it. Left it alone awhile. Reread it again. Left it alone. Again and again until I finally realized that it wasn’t going anywhere, and so I abandoned it.
That was a failure. Or was it?
Fast forward ten years, and after I had written Beauty Rising, I knew I wanted to attempt a second novel before I ever published or did anything with my first. I wanted to prove to myself that it wasn’t a fluke. And so I sat down to try and resurrect that failed novel, but as I began to ponder my options, an image of a man in a red hat captured my mind, which sent me down a very unexpected path leading to my second novel, The Recluse Storyteller – now only a month and a week away from release!
But before I released The Recluse, I wanted to write my third – you know the drill. I wanted to prove that number one and number two weren’t flukes. And suddenly, what do you know? That original novel idea bloomed.
It flowed. My original opening scene was pushed back another 15,000 words to better set the scene. The three generations of Americans just fell into place and within two months the story was finished – my longest novel to date entitled The Reach of the Banyan Tree.
So here are a couple things I learned:
- Starting a project in which I fail is not a failure.
- Failed projects just might need more time to prove themselves.
- Go where the words take you.
- Be patient.
- And lastly, I love writing.
Thank you, failed novel. I hope that 2014 will bring you success after twelve years. But I realize now that you are not late at all.