A few weeks back, I abandoned a novel I’d lived with for almost two decades.
Tuesday, I resurrected it.
Last year, I agreed to help some friends independently publish a book. My research and practice has been sporadic, and I’m a notorious procrastinator. Knowing I’d dragged my feet long enough, and needing a test document to help me learn to format a paperback, I figured I’d give ol’ dusty a chance. I opened the document, renamed it as my practice copy, and started fiddling with the layout.
Hours later, my brother and I had a brief conversation about his original concept for the cover art, something he dreamed up during his time in Germany. We realized we’d had different visions all these years: He’d always seen the image as being shrouded in night, and I’d envisioned it as a menacing, shadowy ruin in the light of day. No worries. Different perspectives can yield interesting, unexpected results.
I’m excited about the story again.
It still needs finishing. There are notes and highlighted text, such as “more background material here” or “insert word that means fire.” I’ll cross those bridges when I come to them. However, after choosing the right font and seeing a rough mock-up of the pages, I realize, “Y’know, this looks downright cool.”
Which reminds me of an epic poem, written to be part of the oral history of the land. Early in the poem, a search is conducted for a legendary ancestral sword that had been lost as the generations forgot their heritage. The sword is found “buried long ‘neath dust and midden.”
Where this story has been.
Maybe it still has something to teach me, more than the countless hours and many revisions by which I learned how to create characters and construct dialogue. Now, perhaps, as I stumble my way through formatting the interior of a paperback book, the story will remind me why I loved it and felt compelled to write it.
I have no illusions that it is great literature. Someone else might take the same characters and plot points and create something amazing. But this is the first book I finished. The first of a stack of half-starts and scribbled notes that actually became a novel.
Time to set it free.