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, generate early readers, and to query. My critique group provided support along with suggestions for improvement and sometimes sharp criticism. About two 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 brain, unable to sleep at all. I woke unrested and finally realized that I will no longer attempt to publish the book. Though I still love the characters and the idea, I’ve concluded that 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 The premise of the book is overdone and outdated.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 learned 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 allow 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 this 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 independent route.
There is value in letting go this dream. The next dream is still viable.
Clip art courtesy: end of a daydream by astridle
I’m sorry you have had to come to this decision but I’m sure it is the right decision. Adding onto your sports analogy, as you know I’m a youth baseball coach and one of the things I often tell the kids after a loss (or a string of losses) is that you always learn more from the losses than the victories. You learn not only how to lose gracefully, but also you learn the areas where you can work to do better, where you can improve. It sounds like you have learned a lot of these lessons while working on this novel. And, while the time may not be right for The Inlaid Table right now, it may find life again, in whole or in part, in the future.
Thanks for your comment, Rob. You’re right, it wasn’t a complete loss for all I’ve learned, but still a huge disappointment. Table did inspire another book, the one I’m working on currently, though it’s entirely a different story.
It is a difficult choice, but sounds like the right one. Sometimes it’s best to move on. and who knows, someday it might come back or inspire other writing for you.
I am moving on because it’s what I have to do. Thanks for understanding the dilemma, Andrew.
Thank you for sharing!
Thank you for reading!
I am sorry to hear this. For me, the Inlaid Table was more about your voice–how you told the story. It may be a common-enough story, but not through your eyes.
That’s a really lovely thing to say, Jacqui, thank you very much, Takes the sting out of my decision.
You’ve done a really brave thing – I can only imagine how hard it’s been; and working on the assumption that it is usually hardest to do the thing that’s right, I hope that letting go of “The Inlaid Table” will allow you the mental space and creative energy to surge forward with your other projects, ones that will see publication in time.
There is that advantage – more time for the other stuff. I’m working on book four, but I really need to query for the books that are complete. I love every aspect of writing except querying which I detest. I’d rather plunge headfirst into quicksand. At least I know I will definitely get sand in my mouth – querying, you usually get less than that.
It’s a horrible business, isn’t it – so emotionally draining! I’ll keep everything crossed for you.
Yes, there’s the horrible business end of writing, exacerbated by trying to find the secret key in the magic kingdom that will unlock a prince’s (agent’s) mind and heart. This is the fairy dust I need. Or a glass slipper. Or tall boots to get me through the muck. LOL
I’m sorry you’re not pursuing the book, Sharon. It takes a mountain of effort and time to write a novel. I’ve got a load of stories on my computer that I will come back to one day when I feel passionate about them again – there’s no use forcing anything, if I don’t ‘love’ what I’m writing I just set it aside until the passion ignites again. Hugs xxxx
It was a very difficult decision, Dianne. It isn’t for lack of passion. I love the book but I can’t overcome some of the problem areas. Thank you, however, for your support. It is much appreciated.