Ya Never Know

In my previous post, I listed all of the unpublished novels sitting in my closet or on my hard drive. Most of them haven’t budged since then.

But ya know, ya never know. Writing is a weird business. Sometimes, a story you think is going great crashes and burns. Sometimes, a manuscript you’re sure is going to be the one can’t find its audience.

And other times, projects you thought were going nowhere go . . . somewhere.

Case in point:

In 2013, I took my first stab at NaNoWriMo. I didn’t plan; I just sat down and started writing. My novel, a deep-space YA action/romance titled Freefall, grew day by day. I got my 50,000 words (largely by ignoring my job and family for a solid month), but then I bogged down. Exhaustion, maybe. Lack of planning. Whatever it was, I couldn’t see a way forward. I figured the manuscript was dead in the water.

Then, late last year, for no reason I can recall, I pulled up the old file and read it through. I decided it wasn’t half bad. I jotted down some notes, working out a way to finish it. Then I hammered out the rest of the story.

My agent loved it. So did my editor. It’s due out next summer.

Second case in point:

Ten or fifteen years ago—I’ve lost track—I came up with what I thought was a wonderful idea for an alt-history novel based on abolitionist John Brown and his relationship to the New England Transcendentalists. I did some preliminary research, but couldn’t figure out a way to tell the story. I wrestled with it off and on over the intervening years, did more research, took a vacation to Concord to nose around historical sites and archives, went to Boston and stood face to face with one of the actual pikes Brown commissioned for his ill-fated raid, drafted a few halting pages. This past summer, I finally gave it a title, Chainbearer, and a duo of narrators. The draft grew to nearly 20,000 words. After all this time, it seemed I was finally making headway.

But then I hit a wall. I couldn’t figure out where to go next. If this had been a new project, enthusiasm might have carried me through the impasse. But having spent so long on it and invested so much of my heart in it, the latest setback was a killer, and I was ready to give up.

Then, out of nowhere, my agent emailed. She’d read the pages I sent her and thought the story had potential. She advised me to stick with it.

I don’t know if this project will ever see the light of day. I hope it will. But at the moment, it’s amazing enough to me to think that it might.

This post isn’t meant to provide false uplift. For every project that unexpectedly resurrects itself, I can name another that doesn’t. We writers have far less control over the process than we might like to believe. That can be a scary thought, a disheartening thought, but it can also be a hopeful one.

Because ya just never know.


4 Comments on “Ya Never Know

  1. I can totally relate to this post. I also really get the way writing locks you away for a month or so. I get so into my stories they just wipe out the communicating with others part of my brain. I love how you can go back to old stories and turn them into something. Great post!


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