Woke up this morning, cranked through the final few pages, and, with much fear and excitement, wrote the final line of a novel. Not just any novel, mind you, but an old, old friend I first started more than 10 years ago, while toiling away in a workshop at Vanderbilt University under the tutelage of Tony Earley, John Halperin, and Lorraine Lopez. How was that first draft so many years ago? Terrible. Ugly. Melodramatic. But forever special and enduring because it was the first draft of the very first novel (for me, anyway).
After that first love (er, draft), there were other lovers (er, attempted novels) that came and went, occupied my mind, took years of effort and ultimately died on the drawing-room floor, and, though one of those novels (THE DISTRICT OF CAMELOT, the Literary Man’s CU MFA thesis) still might make it into the literary world alive, kicking and screaming, I’ve spent the last few months rewriting the novel of my youth, the long-ago forgotten love of sophomore year that has spent the last decade hiding in a desk, only to be exhumed in a fit of anger and impatience last January, in the height of frustration at how difficult it is to just sit and wait while editors and agents mull the prospect of turning your toil into something they can sell. What’s this long lost novel about? Well, it’s about college, and identity, and searching for long lost family members. But most of all, it’s this (thx Wikipedia):
A Künstlerroman (German pronunciation: [ˈkʏnstlɐ.ʁoˌmaːn]; plural -ane), meaning “artist’s novel” in German, is a narrative about an artist’s growth to maturity. It may be classified as a specific sub-genre of Bildungsroman; such a work, usually a novel, tends to depict the conflicts of a sensitive youth against the values of a bourgeois society of his or her time.
Now, five months later, a new monster has emerged from those thorny undergraduate pages. All the while, I’ve been wondering whether this is normal. What say you, dear readers? Have you put a beloved draft of a book aside, only to resuscitate it years later and find that it’s still breathing, still viable, on editorial life support, waiting for an infusion of fresh energy and vigor? Joyce famously spent ten years working on THE PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A YOUNG MAN, so maybe there’s hope for all of us, maybe patience is a virtue after all. Maybe it’s time to pick up that manuscript and start all over again!