While it doesn't seem like it should be an easy decision to make, starting over on my first novel is the right way to go -- not because I am not proud of what I have written so far, it just has too many problems that no amount of rewrites will fix. I have tried to morph it into something better than it can be, and now I have to stop fooling myself and do what I have, in times of frustration, wanted to do for years.
On the bright side, however, I am salvaging parts of the story -- in essence I am taking the best 30-40 pages and hyper-focusing on it for 60-70,000 words. My goal is to paint a vast, complex picture of a young adult trying to deal with some traumas while spending the summer on a farm half a state away with distant relatives, where he meets somebody who might make it all worth it, if he is not too blind to notice.
I am confident that I can write a draft of this by the end of the summer. I am taking it as a personal challenge to use the ideas that manifested in the first trial, and work them in a more plausible, more focused, highly detailed way. The scope of my previous try was too large. The details were too small, too brief, too disjointed.
In addition, now I know my genre -- at least for this book. It is a YA novel, a coming of age story. It has always been the latter, but I had never settled on the former. It makes a whole lot of sense for me, and, although I have research to do, I feel like it should have been this all along.
It's good that I know this. Even if it did come at the price of six years of work. I feel like I could not have reached this point if I had not been through everything I have been through.
My goal is to write as good of a novel as I can, and if that means starting over, then I am perfectly willing to do it. I have long know there are a lot of problems with my manuscript, and the same ones seem to surface in different ways, no matter what I have done.
To get a professional criticism and confirm all this -- but also that I have potential -- is a step in the right direction. I wish I had sent it to her sooner, but, I can't live my life dwelling on something like that. I must continue looking towards the future.
In the meantime I am going to put out this short story collection, Tales from the Fringes, and see what kind of audience I can build. I will focus on school and settling into a career in education.
I don't really see it as a step back as much as a humbling. Life is a learning experience and when I lose track of that I get discouraged. I don't have time to get discouraged. I can only move forward.
On the bright side, I already know this story inside and out. It will take discipline, research, and planning, to write a new manuscript, but I anticipate the writing process going more smoothly this time around. Everything that I lacked when I first started writing fictions I now have. Looking back on my first writings, I have come an impossible long way. Now it's time to take all that knowledge and the skills I have developed, and this world and these characters I have created, and put it all together.
Tentative Title (since the focus of the book is shifting, the title has to change): Outside the Garden
Goal Length: 72,000 words
Genre: Young Adult Literature
Synopsis: Lance Adamson goes to stay for the summer on his uncle's farm near the small, central Ohio town, Babel, to escape the recent suicide of his best friend Art, as well as other ghosts. There he meets Evie, his only ally. With her help, Lance tries to begin the healing process and avoid being sucked into the Nimrod Evangelical Temple and the preachings of Pastor Lee Charles, who has virtually everyone else in town under his control.
Like I said, this is essentially a 30-40 page chunk of my book that I am hyper-focusing on. I have written beginning two pages, and, I am really excited to continue. I can tell even by the fact that I am able to write a synopsis of it that I am in much better shape that I ever have been.
Everything is coming together. Not in the way I was imagining that it would, but, this way seems more plausible. My gut instinct tells me I am making the right choice. I am excited to be thrown back into the creative process, which, for me, is the best part of all of this.