I haven't posted an actual writing post in a while (oh no! the world cried out, so fucking aghast) so here it be. This past spring I started working on a new novel with a lot of moving parts to it and I finished the rough draft this past August after a very productive writing period. The new novel weighed in around 110,00 words initially, which made it my longest novel ever (I'm not a long novel guy-too squirrely), and I ran the rough draft through two additional drafts before sticking it in the metaphorical drawer to cool down.
Why not send it off immediately? It's not like my busy literary agent isn't eagerly awaiting our next crazy money making venture! God, all the money, how we loves it! Money is our precious! Well, alas, I kept getting the sense the book wasn't all it could be. You know, a sort of nagging sensation that I had let down all humanity yet again by not concocting the absolutely most perfect awesome novel of all time, a novel to rule them all and in darkness sell a million copies. The prose was solid, I loved the setting, and the plot...well, it was a plot, anyhow.
Eventually I boiled my unease down to the cocktail party question (also known as the elevator pitch). I.e. I had trouble summoning up what the new book was about when people asked me, much less pack it into a single good sales line (which I've come to learn is pretty much necessary if you actually want to sell your book). This led me to a bunch of other revelations and finally, with a sinking feeling, I realized the book wasn't good enough and probably wouldn't be good enough no matter how many more revisions I made.
God damn, huh? Six months of work down the old drain. Oppegaard Novel #15 was a fucking bust.
Yet not all is lost. After further reflection I realized one part of the book was too fucking good to shelve forever and I started thinking about another way to incorporate it into a new novel written otherwise from scratch. So that's what I'm doing now, writing a whole new novel set in the same town with the same title but with many new characters and a whole other focus. And, this time, if we meet at a party and you ask me about it I can say, with confidence, "It's about a town that's haunted, both metaphorically and literally."
And so I grind on, typing into this merciless Minnesota winter.
FUN SIDE NOTE: I've updated to Word 2013 on my PC and it's glorious. I highly recommend it.