Sparked by Words

Letting Go a Dream

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I began writing The Inlaid Table the last week of April, 2003 and completed it in early 2009 – the first time. It was my first adult novel, and it placed in the top 250 entries for the 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award – ABNA – competition. Out of 5,000 entries I was thrilled to have done so well. Such heady achievement fortified me to continue to work on it, to seek early readers, and to query. My critique group provided support along with suggestions for improvement and sometimes sharp criticism.

Almost three months ago I suffered a serious injury to my right arm (it’s healing) and used the downtime to undertake an absolute final edit. Nothing could deter me. The final final version satisfied me. Until a few nights ago when I tossed through the early hours of a new day, anxious and battling with my conscience and my intellect, unable to sleep at all. I woke unrested and concluded I will no longer attempt to publish the book. Though I still love the characters and the story, I’ve decided this one will live on my computer and nowhere else. Sometimes you just have to let things go, and for this book, with literally thousands of hours devoted to researching, writing, and editing, it is out of publication contention.

It was a tough decision but one I had to make. The premise of the book is overdone and outdated. Over the last eight years, while I worked on Table and also wrote two other novels, both now complete, the ground for this story turned swampy with politics and emotions. There won’t be the readers I expected, and the book will generate controversy I never intended.

Yes, I cried. Yet other people face more vital, more dire situations than having spent so many years writing a book that will never get ink. I wiped those tears off my cheeks. It was not a complete failure though I probably should have sensed the impending implosion years earlier. I learned a lot from the experience, all the things one should expect from such an undertaking and a few things I never anticipated. The wisdom gained in any endeavor can be applied to trying to write, then concluding it isn’t the right manuscript, it’s not the dream to pursue.

Two of the best attributes of engaging in competitive sports are learning to win honorably and lose graciously. Accepting rules and standards allows games to be played on common ground. Dignity and confidence at trying new challenges are gains measured outside the score board. Persistence regales effort even in the face of failure. Cheering for individual excellence surpasses fawning over athletic super stars. Standing up after you’ve been thrown to the ground reminds you to be grateful you can stand at all.

In the same vein, I’ve grown as a person and as writer. I listen better, think more clearly, share fairly, try harder. I know the value of staying up late to work and getting up early to do the same. My ABNA moment gave me the confidence to go back and do a better job on something I’d thought was finished. I spent my 10,000 hours honing my craft, and my current writing exhibits more mastery than when I started writing Table in 2003.

My biggest regret is that I won’t get to publicly acknowledge the many people who helped me travel the path of writing the first book. Those folks gave me their very best effort with no more expectation than a thanks from me. So here it is: Thank you, dear family, friends, and believers. You made it possible for me to fail with dignity and to stand up again.

While I’ve given up on the dream of publishing The Inlaid Table, I have others to pursue, and I will. I remain determined to see my books to publication, whether via the cachet of the traditional print houses or the more likely, perhaps humbler, independent route.

There is value in letting go this dream. The next one is still viable.

 

 

 

Clip art courtesy: Google public domain mages, (girl with a bubble) Pixabay.com


 

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Comments on: "Letting Go a Dream" (40)

  1. Good post, Sharon. And best of luck with your next project 💕

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Marina. Two other books are complete and a fourth is a work in progress. For a long time, I’ve thought book number three might be the first one to try to publish as it’s the shortest, and agents don’t like taking chances on newbie writers with long novels. I appreciate your support.

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  2. Your post has given me insight into one of the problems I’m having with my WiP. I was refusing to acknowledge this issue but now I see it’s the very heart of my frustration with my work. How can I even think about publishing something that is so likely to cause scandal that can’t be overlooked? Like you, I might need to just move on. It’s either that or change several major features in the story.

    I’m so glad I read this, Shari.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Glynis, I’m humbled to think I may have given you the insight you need for your own work, but from what I’ve read, you just need to get the words down. I’m not actually afraid of scandal, (it often sells more books) but this is different. It’s more of a controversy that I choose not to discuss publicly. Each of us must make our own decisions about our work, but I really think you need to finish before you can make a truly informed decision. That said, changing our story as we go is part of the process all of us face.

      Liked by 1 person

      • The thing is, the villain is going to cause the scandal and it touches people I can’t avoid. To purposely do this would be cruel. Maybe sometime in the future it won’t affect them as much. Until then, writing makes me feel evil and retched. There’s other ideas floating through my mind that really make me feel as though I’d have a good time writing again. I’m just putting this WiP on a shelf. I’m not destroying it.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Writing should make the writer feel empowered, curious, humble, joyous, creative, compassionate, thoughtful, academic. Never wretched. So for the moment, Glynis, maybe it is best to put this one aside and let it wait until you’ve gained some distance from the events and the people who might feel betrayed by the story. On the other hand, I’ve heard so often that real people fictionalized in books don’t even recognize themselves – if they even read the story. Another tact is to disguise the real people so well that no one would recognize them. Change male to female, make someone healthy suffer with chronic illness. Still, I’m glad you’re looking forward to working on other books that will make you feel proud to be a writer.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Shari,

    I loved the part of The Inlaid Table that I read. It saddens me that it’s being put away–but I also understand. Every writer has at least one “trunked” novel.

    But maybe, hopefully, this will turn out to be a “not now” instead of a “not ever.” Publishing–and history–seem to move in cycles. Maybe we’ll come around again to a time that would be right for The Inlaid Table to be put out there.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Ilene. I kept reading about first books being stowed in a drawer, never to be published, but never thought it would be me. But it is. Thanks for your support about this book, it’s very much appreciated.

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  4. lindarkirsch said:

    I felt so sad when I read your blog post. I guess I read The Inlaid Table in its infancy and always felt it would someday be published and we’d all see your name in virtual lights. You’re really brave to make this decision. I’m still hopeful we’all your books in print. I’d even forego my Kindle addiction in order to have you sign a hard copy of one of your books for me. Love you,

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much, Linda. I’m grateful for your insight about the first “draft” of the book as you helped me see it through a reader’s eyes. Still have two other books ready to send out, still determined to get my books published. And I will autograph something for you, even if it’s a paper towel so you can clean your Kindle.

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  5. I am sorry with you, Shari. I didn’t read much of this book, but enough to see how special it is. You say it’s an overdone topic, but aren’t all plots? Experts variously say there are 5-10 topics in all of fiction and the difference between books is the writer’s voice. Your writerly voice is not overdone, stale, boring, or insignificant. Please reconsider.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Of course you know that by writing this post you make me even more curious about what the shelved novel was about! There are some “weird” things in my novels and stances that certain characters take that sometimes make me toss in the night imagining what certain people in my life might say–luckily I have a very forgiving family. LOL.

    Last year I had my husband burn all my paintings. Everyone thought I was crazy, but they reminded me of things I wanted to be done with. It was a very satisfying thing to be free of them.

    Maybe that book was meant for someone to discover in the future. Maybe the message is for someone who will come long after you’re gone–just keep a hard copy somewhere for them to unearth. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yikes – I’m a bit horrified that you had your art destroyed. That’s an absolute final act. I hope it brought you a measure of peace, Adrienne.

      As an earlier version of The Inlaid Table was once available to be read on line during the ABNA competition, I’ll give you a synopsis. It’s about an American teenager who cleans an antique table, revealing a Hebrew message no one noticed before, and no one understands. The daughter of Holocaust survivors, she’s kindled her family’s wrath while trying to do something wonderful. Fifteen years later she travels to Poland in search of information about the table and its maker. There she discovers everything she knows about her family is false, and the reality so unexpected, it alters her perception of history and changes the course of her life.

      I won’t describe further the reason for my decision, but just so you know: I’m not particularly afraid of controversy.

      I have a copy of the book on my computer, and a copy on someone else’s computer as back up. I am not going to destroy it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • No, I didn’t get the impression YOU were afraid of controversy. It just made me think that sometimes I am. 🙂

        I respect your decision to shelve the book for whatever reason you felt it necessary. I first shared my writing to get over the fear of sharing my writing. It sounds like you holding yours back is for a totally different reason. (It does sound like a good read though–and congrats on your placement in the contest!)

        I have no regrets about my art. That part of my life is over–thank God!

        Looking forward to seeing what you do publish!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you, Adrienne. We all come to writing, as to any occupation or avocation, from internal passions. I’d always wanted to be a writer but got a very late start.

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      • Sh-h-h-h- Don’t tell anyone – I’m way older than you – much later start – you’re published, I’m not – sh-h-h-h- don’t say a word.

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  7. Shari, I’ve already commented in person so no need to do so again. Life is about hellos (helloes???) and goodbyes. Much of the time we have no choice, so at least you are making a conscious decision.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I love the image you’ve chosen to pair with your words. Fitting. I found myself, while reading, wanting to tell you, perhaps remind you of the facts. The amount of knowledge you gained while writing your first novel is priceless, and you will be able to spot this knowledge inside every book you will and have written since.

    Congrats on your early successes. I read your talented words often and I’m certain of your ability. I’m a huge fan, Shari.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, Audrey, for your kind words of support. It means so much to know that you believe in me even when I’m not sure I believe in myself. Yes, I did learn much from writing that first book, so it was not a waste. It was part of my investment in my craft, and you’re right, I still own everything I learned. It will be in everything I write.

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  9. I have become a fan, too and feel that your book may find a place at a later time. But you have made your decision now and can move on and that is a healthy attitude if ever I’reheard one.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I congratulate you for continuing to write.
    This path – a writer’s journey – ebbs and flows while we grow, emotionally detach and recognize that our work is, and what life it has.
    I wish your arm a speedy and complete recovery while your writing success grows!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. my goodness you’re brave! am in awe!

    Liked by 1 person

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