So, here’s the thing. I’m not a monogamous writer. I’ve always got between eight and twelve works going at any particular time. Eventually, a time comes when I choose one to focus on and make it happen for real, for better or worse. The others drift along during that time, and I come back to them when I get the current favorite in the can. Sometimes that focus shifts back and forth for awhile, but eventually I do focus on one book until it is finished.
One book has been the book of my heart but also the book “least-likely-to” for quite a long time. Almost ten years in fact. At first, it was because there was simply no place to even begin to imagine submitting it to for publication. It’s a m/m coming of age novel featuring a lot of graphic sex. When I first started writing it, I was told time and again, “This would be a great Young Adult book if you took out most of the sex.” I was told, “This isn’t really publishable because it’s not a typical romance formula and people don’t want that.” I was told, “This is too long, no one wants to read a book this long.” I’ve been told many things over the years about this book by many, many, many people. Some of those people had incredibly helpful comments and the book is so much better for their input. Some other people’s comments mainly just stymied the book’s development because they led me to believe the book would never have a place in the world.
I still sometimes think this book won’t ever have a place in the world.
This brings us to my situation currently. Every year for the last three years I’ve gone to NYC to sit on my friend’s sofa in Brooklyn to work on 90s Coming of Age Novel for a week. Every year for the last three years, I’ve thought, “This is it! The final push! I can do this thing!” And every year the edits needed on the first half of the first draft have been extensive enough to preclude me ever getting to the second half of the first draft. (Yes, I have a completed first draft, but it needs work.) I’m finally incredibly and immensely satisified with the the first half of the book and am ready to focus on the second half.
Cue the Goodreads Love Has No Boundaries Event. I chose a prompt about a young man who has a history of being stalked by a stranger. I’d intended to write a short story for the event, but, holy smokes, it took off like wildfire and before I knew it, I had half a novel written. A novel I knew I’d have no way of finishing before the event deadline. So, I went back and wrote a short story set in the universe of the novel. It doesn’t fit the prompt exactly and that disappointed some people, but I knew I couldn’t get the book done in time. I didn’t want to return the prompt unfulfilled just because I knew there was no way I could get the novel done, so I compromised the best that I could. I’m happy to say that the prompter was satisfied, I believe.
All in all, I was very happy with how that story was received and people expressed a great deal of interest in the novel based on the prompt. That thrills me! The idea that there are a few people out there who are eagerly awaiting River’s full story really gets my heart going and makes me feel a bit verklempt! In the wake of this, I looked at 90s Coming of Age Novel and I said to it, “Baby, maybe you’ve got to wait a little longer. I think I need to write this book instead. It’s got an audience, you see, and we all know that the biggest problem with you is that…you don’t.”
So, I resigned myself to the fact that it still wasn’t 90s Coming of Age Novel’s time. It was apparently Stalker Universe’s time, and I told myself that I was okay with that. It was the smart move. It was the wise choice. It made the most sense. Why keep readers waiting? This was obviously the right decision to make. It still seems like the right decision to make.
But here’s the thing.
I can’t do it. I was driving back to the office after my lunch break and I felt like my heart was going to break. 90s Coming of Age Novel, Peter, Adam, Leslie, Daniel, Minty, Renee, and Barry were all just there looking at me with this betrayal on their face. They’ve been so patient, you see. They’ve let me take a really long time with them. They’ve waited while I had a baby and wrote nothing for three years. They’ve waited while I wrote fanfiction and they’ve waited while I wrote fairy tales and they’ve waited while I wrote half a post-apocalyptic novel, and while I wrote half of six other books, and four short stories, and, damn it, now I wanted them to wait again.
BUT YOU PROMISED!
They sat there in my head staring at me, but you promised, and yeah. I can’t do it to them. I can’t go to NYC and work on Stalking Universe when I’ve asked them to wait so many years. I promised them at the beginning of the year that this was their year. I promised them that 2013 was it and they wouldn’t have to wait anymore. No more being patient. No more waiting for just one more thing to come before them.
So, okay, 90s Coming of Age Novel. Okay, baby, this is it. Next week, it’s me, you, and NYC again. Don’t fail me. I’m counting on you to come through for me. If I’m making this choice, you’ve got to play your part, too.
Let’s do this thing.