Javier DeSomo, the lead character in my latest book, River of Lost Souls, is a likeable boy. He’s kind, decent, generous, helpful, respectful of his mother and hard working. So, such a fine youngster deserves a strong and meaningful story written about his summer in 1873, when help from a fantastic source attempts to relieve him of the cruel abuse at the hands of Harvey Brampton, a dim-witted bully who uses his mother for fun and beats her son out of meanness.
Could this explain why I, the author, am having difficulty editing the book I completed back in June of 2010?
Yes, a worthy lead character deserves an equally worthy story, and this is where the problem arises.
Honestly, I am having a lot of trouble immersing myself into this project. Several months ago, when my work on Heller’s Canal neared completion, River of Lost Souls found itself at the top of my to–do list. Now, given the difficulty diving into the project has presented, I’m not so sure it didn’t bully its way to the top, much like Harvey Brampton bullied young Javier.
What do I do now that I have declared the official kick-off date to the world by way of this blog?
“Suck it up, wimp,” my right shoulder says. “River of Lost Souls is a much different book than Heller’s Canal. It’s a tale about abuse, rage, small-mindedness, shortsightedness and the courage to endure and prevail with the assistance of some really special friends. Heller’s Canal is an action-packed Western adventure with the depth of whitewash. Naturally, a more complex story requires deeper commitment. ”
“Now wait a minute,” my left shoulder says. “There’s more at stake than a strong commitment. Maybe River of Lost Souls hasn’t incubated long enough to hatch into the exquisite story its premise demands. Hatch it too soon and maybe it dies. At best, it walks through life misshapen and weakened. Maybe it sustains ridicule to ultimately fail out of self-hatred.”
Yes, yes, I see both your points. Right shoulder, your concern for the story is based on my shortcomings as a writer. Gut it up and plow ahead and all will turn out well.
But, left shoulder, your point is based on something more esoteric, shortcomings of a story that is related before its time — a premature rendering from which there is no recovery.
So the question now becomes which is most important, whether I ignore my doubts and get with the labor at hand, or whether I don’t force my will on a story that hasn’t matured yet?
Oh my, what should I do?
Here’s where experience comes to the rescue.
Gary, didn’t you have similar difficulties committing to Heller’s Canal (and other books) in the beginning?
Uh, yes, I did.
Well, there you go. We’ve been down this path before, so keep walking.
Okay, I’ll keep walking already. But what happens if my foreboding worsens?
Then we readdress the question. Nothing is set in stone. Understand that it is always hard to dive into a book and begin to tear it apart thought by thought and word by word. If at some reasonable time in the future you still have misgivings, we will talk again.
All right … sometime in the future.
(Isn’t it nice when the right shoulder and left shoulder have to come together in the middle and my brain engages to provide me a solution, albeit temporary.)
Off to work on Javier’s story now.
Indeed, you are a really fine boy, Javier. But rest assured the clock is ticking and if you need more time to come of age, you darned well can have it