My current WIP is Past Ties. I do not think of it as my first book, although I wrote it in college, considered it finished and set it aside because that’s what I did with things back then.
That’s not entirely true. Before I set it aside, I took the completed mss to my father’s graveside on the seventh anniversary of his death and read it aloud. This alone should have clued me in to the fact that it’s too short to be a “real” book (not quite 38K words).
TT: My dad isn’t in that graveyard. I have never before and never since visited him there. If I want to talk to my dad, I ask Jesus to carry the message. If I want to put flowers on his grave to honor his memory, I go to the cemetery.
That anniversary seemed special, and I wanted to honor it in some way. I chose to do so by reading my first book to the only audience I could handle at the time – one that couldn’t talk back.
I’ve joked that Past Ties was inspired by three completely unrelated (except possibly for their “B” value) movies. Past Ties was also inspired by my parents’ nearly 25 year love affair, my father’s death, and my mother’s discovery of a new love in her life (my now second-dad). Other real life events caused ripples in the book. Elder Brother got married. Big brother moved to Florida. My beloved rabbit Tribble died. I got engaged. I got unengaged. A lot of stuff was happening.
It would. It was college.
It’s only now, as I’ve pulled Past Ties out of the drawer and tried to coax something useful out of the compost of a green writer’s first efforts that I realize just how much stuff went into that steaming mix. You wouldn’t know it to read it. Even after reading this post, you would be hard-pressed to see what I’m talking about.
But I see it. Worse, I feel it.
Those emotions are so tangled in the story, I’m having trouble sorting them into something more readable. I don’t want to lose them, but they can’t stay as they are. Neither can the story. It’s too green, too simple and, quite honestly, too boring.
So I’m picking my way through the story, thread by thread, emotion by emotion, like my character Tayra Shah sorting through a flood of images to find the one that solves the puzzle of the missing robot.
I’m rearranging who does what, who feels what, who says what. It’s much harder than I thought it would be, and I blame the unintentional therapeutic nature of the book as written.
Why don’t I quit and write on something else?
I may. Two things stop me at the moment. One, I used to “quit” stories all the time, and I don’t want to do it anymore. Two, this story sets the foundation of many other stories I intend to write, including Star of Justice. I would like to see it become something publishable.
And that’s as vulnerable as I’m going to get with this particular topic today.
I would like to thank those who participated in my last thread. I wrote this part to honor your vulnerability with the rest of us. May your writing bring you and your readers all the healing you need to take your next steps.