After thirteen months of hard work, more than a thousand hours of typing and re-typing, the manuscript for The Runner Stone left today for the editor. The manuscript was the 23rd rewrite. If you were an early “beta reader” you won’t recognize this version. But your help and feedback was the foundation upon which I could build this incredible story. While this may sound like the end of a long process, it is just the beginning.
Because there are so many writers and writer-wannabees and so few books, it is a very brutal course to take. I still think the odds are better for me if I wanted to start a boys band or join the circus. You have to have thick skin to be a writer with a learner’s heart. Editors can (and sometimes do) say the work, the 1,000+ hours of your life, is total crap. Or they can say “Well … with some major rewriting, like changing all the characters, change the plot, and reword 90% of it … we might make it work.” Sometimes they are kind. “Good work!” Then, with their expertise in wordsmithery, you have some hope for your work seeing the light of day.
Without the manuscript to cuddle, suddenly there’s a void in my life.
I’ve starting thinking about my next book. These two ideas will sound very autobiographical, but only loosely so. One is a book set on my street in Appalachia. The story would have to be some fictionalized tension to be interesting, such as dealing with one of the dark family secrets that people in Appalachia’s Bible-belt have (or the rest of the world for that matter), alcoholism, incest, rape, doubt, drugs, racism or an emotional abusive parent. Maybe a combination of those. But this is fiction–almost.
The other story, which would springboard from my own life, would be a story about man with cancer. He decides, as a way out of his nightmare, to commit suicide by trying (untrained and sickly) to climb K2 (second highest mountain on earth, and more difficult to climb than Everest). I haven’t decide which ending to take, that he succeeds in killing himself in the process (the most logical outcome) or that some how, almost like a miracle, he does it. The latter is a “Hallmark ending” but those stories don’t grab attention in the literary world. I thought of even making his cancer story a comedy.
The first book mentioned has my own coming of age in Application to draw from. The second has my experience with cancer to draw from, and I’ve been in the vicinity of K2 (in Pakistan) twice. So, I know that area of the world.
In closing, I want to mention a book I’m just finishing. It was a Pulitzer Prize finalist and extremally well-written. It is nonfiction, which I don’t read much any more. The title is Minor Feelings. The book, to my surprise, deals very candidly with racism. White on black racism. Asian on black, and white on Asian.
Yes, I do think racism and sexism can be over-stated. A feminist woman told me once (in the philosophical framework of linguistic deconstructionism ) that because I’m white man, then I’m automatically racist and sexist. She said she was not sexist or racist because she was of a minority class (meaning being a woman I think as she appeared to be white). However, with that said, I think is almost impossible to be raised in south, be white, and not be racist. This week, the Ahmaud Arbery hate crimes case illustrated this very well. Read the transcript. Some of my old childhood friends have stated, “If I caught a black man running through our neighborhood … hell yeah I would blow his head off. But I ain’t racist. There’s not a racist bone in my body.” We love to create the non-threatening narratives about the world, because within them, we don’t have to change. This is about writing not racism, but before I digress more, I will just say, if you are in touch with your racist views, this is a great book to read. If you “don’t have a racist bone in your body,” its an even a better book to read.
Pray for peace in the world.
One response to “Two Words on Wording (writing)”
Sounds Southern Gothic to me.