Believe It Or Not, This Is A Novel.

Well, sort of.

It’s a draft, about 100,000 words’ worth of narrative prose that could — with sufficient editing — pass for a book.

"draft bin"

Is it any good? I don’t know. No, actually I DO know: I read a f*ck-ton of genre fiction, which enables me to say — with complete confidence and a reasonable amount of objectivity — that it is average. Not brilliant, but by no means the worst thing ever written. It’s…fine. Think of it as the unpublished mass market paperback version of The Mentalist or Yuengling beer. Like, it’s there and it’s better than nothing.

And yes, you have to take my word for it, because this project will never see the light of day. This is because I am maybe one of three people in the world who deliberately sets out to write “trunk novels.”*

I write stuff, revise it, print it out, and put it in a binder. Then I put the binder on a bookshelf. I’ve got anywhere between 2 and 4.5 of these now, depending on which project counts as what.

Which brings me to MY TERRIBLE SECRET.

With some regularity, I print out sections from my works-in-progress and — little by little, bit by bit — share them with my writing group. It’s agonizing, but I do it because I really like my writing group and I want to keep hanging out with them. I’m not the kind of person who makes friends easily…or at all, quite frankly. In fact, I’m surprised that they include me,** and I suspect that if I didn’t feed them little morsels of story on a regular basis, they probably wouldn’t.

So…I keep acting like a writer, even though (if I’m honest with myself) publication isn’t really my primary goal. It’s not even a secondary or tertiary goal. I have to deal — directly and indirectly — with the publishing industry quite a bit in my work, and my overall impression is that it is not a healthy or hospitable world to inhabit.

I wish I could convey this to people, who seem to think that publication is some mystical hero’s journey to happiness and fulfillment. I sincerely doubt that it is. I suspect that it could be, if one were to regard it as an “ALSO” instead of an “IF ONLY.” But most aspiring authors I’ve met tend not to think that way.

Which puts me in this position of having to write and revise enough to stay in the group, but not so much that I’m obligated to constantly query agents, enter contests, apply for grants, attend conferences and workshops, or pursue any other avenues to publication…although I can be and have been peer-pressured into it, on occasion.

Unfortunately, I think folks are starting to catch on. In the past, I’ve been content to let everyone think that I’m a lazy, undisciplined slack@$$ who starts a bunch of different stories and never finishes a single one — it’s a lot easier that way, because it keeps expectations low. But that particular fiction (ha!) is getting harder and harder to sustain.

Which brings me back to the book-in-a-bin. What I have to do, if I want to keep having any kind of social life, is sift through this bin, piece together the manuscript, and then…I don’t know, retype it, I guess.***

Retype, Revise, Reprint, Repeat.


*Tho’ if you take Henry Darger off the list, on account of being deceased, then I guess I’m one of two.
**Meetup is convinced that I am an over-50 African-American lady lawyer looking for love in Raleigh. Like, specifically. I do not know how the site arrived at this conclusion, though I guess I should be grateful that it didn’t just assume I was man, like everyone else.
***Oh, and another thing: the main obstacle to my “creative process” is lousy $#!+b0x computers that f*cking die on me when I really, really, REALLY need them to work.
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2 thoughts on “Believe It Or Not, This Is A Novel.

  1. Jenny O says:

    Personally I think any list with Henry Darger on it is at least interesting.

  2. Libby says:

    Just caught up on all the entries I missed while away–entertaining as always, routinely wise, and your author wedding photo commentary made me check my laughing so that I did not wake up nappers in the house. Wanted to comment on this one because I am amazed at the creativity (and discipline!) that you produce, and also because it seems like all the published authors I’ve read “how I write” info from say basically the same thing about publishing!

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