Coming up with an idea for my next novel has never been a problem. By the time I finished writing Until Thanksgiving, most of After Christmas Eve had already come together in my head. Once I started writing that story, I knew several of the characters would turn up at the Stonewall Riots for Happy Independence Day.
I’ve got ideas for lots more Holiday Tales, but right now, I want to try something different. I love Philip Potter and his friends. But after writing the third novel in the series, I’m ready for some strange.
My first thought was a trilogy loosely based on the memoir that prompted me in 2010 to join the Athens Writers Workshop. The memoir, in its current form, will never be published. Through the workshop I learned about showing instead of telling, stakes and tension, and other really important aspects of writing a good story — all absent from the memoir I wrote almost five years ago.
I still believe in the story, but writing a fictionalized version of my life has been a bigger challenge than I expected. My poorly written memoir at least works as a basic outline for the trilogy. The challenge is sorting through way too much information to decide what to include and how.
When the call for submissions for A Taste of Honey hit my inbox a few months ago, I jumped at the chance to work on something quick and easy. Getting a contract was a pleasant surprise. Two works wending their way through the production process simultaneously with release dates two days apart kept me too busy to spend much time on the trilogy.
Since finishing Happy Independence Day, I’ve spent way more time than usual writing in my journal, mostly about the writing I’m not doing. When I’m not journaling, I work on my blog. In early August, I’d written all my weekly posts through December. I wrote a second short story before I realized what was going on. I was procrastiwriting — anything to avoid returning to the trilogy.
Abandoning a 50,000-word manuscript violates every fiber of my being. I can’t stand the idea of giving up and moving onto something else. This stubbornness can be a strength. Without it, I might never have finished my first three novels. But after months with no forward progress, the time has come to piss or get off the pot.
So I’m going to flush and move on. I’m shaking off the trilogy, putting the silly thing away, and going back to work. I’m not abandoning the manuscript so much as setting it aside for a while. I’ll keep you posted on my next project. But first, I probably ought to wash my hands.