Literary Life

Eating crow

My next meal

Somewhere back in the archives of this web journal can be found a post bemoaning the failure of my novel, “And it’s only Love.” which died and was buried in the dead manuscript cemetery (a large and full box in a closet).

Pulling my Jesus-Lazarus trick, I’ve brought that manuscript back to life. And, man, can it dance.

Keeping the core idea inherent in the title — and it’s only love that can wreck a human being and turn him inside out — and keeping the place and time, I’ve taken the main male character and made him peripheral, and he is now a mostly offstage narrator — sometimes 1st person and sometimes 3rd. What fun that is! The central female character remains by name and physical description, but is in every important way completely changed. There is an entirely new central male character.

The destructive problem with the original version was having the wrong man as the protagonist. This character, Tom Valen from an earlier novel (Possessed by Shadows), was already established as a person entirely different from the character needed for this new story. He could not be twisted into the new role. Secondarily, the central female character — Danika — was an utter failure: a woman so sensual and beautiful that no man could resist her, and so self-seving and uninteresting that no man would stay with her longer than a few days (or nights). The character is still called Danika, but otherwise is a new and better young woman.

I’m 28,000 good words into it.

Now, to eat a bit of crow. (For you non-native English speakers, this is an idiomatic phrase that essentially means to humiliate oneself after being proven wrong.)

It wouldn’t take much of a search through this web journal to find posts where your faithful author has pronounced his truisms about writing and editing. One of the more notorious of these pronouncements is that by writing carefully and thoughtfully line by line, page by page, all the way to the end, then the end is the end and nothing else need be done. If that were true, then I would have seen that the original version of Only Love was a failure well before getting to the end of it. But I did not. I can see clearly now that staring at each tree left me oblivious to the forest.

Crow tastes like shit, by the way.

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9 replies »

  1. Excellent news! Perspective shifting can be fun whenever it’s not jarring. Salter’s a master at doing that.

  2. Yes, Salter showed me that this rule can be broken and broken well. Wish he had also showed me how to do it as beautifully as he does.

    I liked your blog format, as you can see.

  3. Awesome, Jesus-Lazarus trick, Doni. Can’t wait to read it. At the Art Walk last night, we saw an exhibit of photographs of dead birds. I think you would have appreciated it, considering the lovely pic of the dead crow. xo

  4. Fantastic – looking forward to seeing this one, too.

    Crow may taste like shit but it’s better than starving, I suppose.

      • I did – a fine cracking read, with easily the most brutal opening I can remember reading in recent memory.

        I’ll email you about it when I’m not sitting in a sweltering net cafe in the middle of the paddies surrounded by about 25 kids playing shoot-em-up games at top volume.

        • Sometimes I miss the tropics, but the slap of reality reminds me of how much I hate heat and humidity … my notion of perfect weather is mostly sun with a few cute clouds, a bit of a breeze, less than 50% humidity, temperature around 22 C. LIke San Diego.

          I look forward to your larger impressions about Island, especially the bits that occur in your currents part of the world.