Recently, I’ve been tearing down hundreds of soccer pictures from my son’s room. I’ve left them up for years because I’m sentimental. He is the inspiration for my not-yet-published novel about a soccer-obsessed kid, and these walls are a visual reminder of how obsessed he was (and still is).
Yes, those are players on the ceiling…
But now my son is coaching university boys. And in a few weeks he’ll be a father of his own (he hopes) soccer player. So it’s time for the room to transform.
It feels like I’m ripping down his childhood.
Sometimes it feels like this when I’m revising a story. My carefully cut and pasted words get torn down so the fresh future can be realized.
Not easy to do.
But easier when there’s a baby on the way.
An infinite amount, if the writer is stubborn and persistent.
Case in point: I now have a novel manuscript that used to be a mid-size novel-in-verse that was once a short novel-in-verse that was once revised to a different gender that was once a picture book poetry manuscript that was once a poem. Got that? Two editors (maybe three) asked for revisions at various points, which lead me to hope for a contract. But it hasn’t happened so far.
Now the novel is out on submissions again, this time in prose, and almost three times the length of the last novel-in-verse rendition.
Why don’t I throw in the towel? Because my agent says he loves it. And more importantly, because my oldest son is the inspiration behind a boy who is passionate about soccer. It’s his turn for a dedication page in his honor.
In Italy with some of his soccer team, far right
Drooling over cups at Camp Nou, FC Barcelona
Newspaper shot, high school game
Other than some final copyediting tasks, I am finished with Serendipity and Me. Now I can start on my next big project. But I can’t decide what that will be. The top three finalists for this question are:
1. The Other Jessamy. This is a book that was written all the way through, but the protagonist wasn’t likeable enough. To change things up, I started rewriting it in a novel-in-verse style. So much better! But it changed the character so much that now, halfway through the book, I don’t know how it ends or where to go from here. Frustrating.
2. Three Prayers. A historical novel set in 1850 in Indiana. I know how it ends, but I don’t know how to get from the middle part to the end. This one’s a departure for me because it’s not written in first person. It’s written in third person from three different viewpoints.
3. Game of My Life. Started as a poem picture book. Like Serendipity and Me, an editor asked me to make it into a novel-in-verse, so I did. It has been reworked many times and has gotten a lot of attention, but no final bite. One death knell–who would read it? Editors can’t believe soccer players would read poetry. The higher literary houses want more development behind the character to balance the soccer. I’m wondering if time spent on this would ultimately come to naught. But I badly want this one made into a book. My oldest son deserves his chance for a book dedicated solely to him.
So. Meanwhile I’m avoiding the issue by playing around with picture book texts. They require less commitment. But I need to make a decision and get started on something bigger.
I’d love to know what you would do, or which you’d rather read. How do you decide which project to work on next?
Brendan flying through the air in Italy...a decade ago