mad in pursuit journal

DISPATCHED FROM THE CROSSROADS, AT THE intersection OF defeat & defiance

Getting That Novel Published

Yesterday I wondered why I had the sudden urge to revise the unpublished novel I gave up on in 1995. One reason: It's unfinished business. I traveled so far with that book and its precursors. Even had a big city agent who believed in my work for a good long time — till she stopped believing in it.

When she stopped thinking she could sell it, I stopped thinking it could sell. Oh, I did have a spurt of activity early in 2001, when I made a faint-hearted attempt to sell it directly to a handful of small presses for "direct to paperback." My hard drive also contains several false starts of new novels with variations on the same set of characters — tough, angry women and the tortured men they tangle with.

But the wind was out of my sails. I lost heart in novel-writing — so much work, so little payoff. Much easier to scribble daily web entries.

And yet there it sits, a child still in the womb, waiting to be born. Giving me a kick every so often.

Timing is everything. Much of the novel is set in Pakistan, with an insane Pashtun as the villain. Before 9/11, that part of the world was an abstraction to Americans. Knowing about the vengeful tribes of Afghanistan was very esoteric. But now...

Now, the book looks like an opportunity I'd be a fool not to take. Add a backdrop of jihad against the West. Focus my art dealers on Islamic and ancient Mideast and Central Asian art treasures (instead of Chinese). Tighten up and improve the plot, based on my study of Robert McKee's "Story."

Would I have the guts to self-publish? Good question. A dozen years ago that was considered "vanity," now it's considered enterprising and muy 21st century. But it still gets back to your ability to do marketing, which isn't one of my strengths.

Anyway, I've installed the chapters on my laptop, so I can find comfortable spots for revisions. I did some writing last night in bed, before I went to sleep, instead of watching TV. Good girl.