How books are born and how they die

I have never claimed any novels that haven't been published which may or may not be a good thing. So, I claim three but like some deadbeat fathers, I think the number is closer to ten or twelve or maybe fifteen. I have books in boxes and books on shelves and every once in a while I'm about to toss out some large pile of paper and I realize it is/was a novel. So how does this happen and what does it mean? Well, I truly believe that if you write it once, you can write it twice better. By that I mean if the computer eats it, write it again. Not to quote Sting (Sting?) but if you love something let it go and if it disappears it wasn't all that great. Yes, I know that's not what Sting said. Never mind.

Also, after a few people have read a novel I have spent a substantial amount of time writing and mostly found it lacking, it's probably doomed. So, my books are not my babies. When my son went through a period of being largely awful, it never occurred to me to love him less. Books die because all sorts of people have weighed in with helpful or critical suggestions and you hear their comments mainly as noise or the wah-wah of Charlie Brown's teacher.

 Let's see, there is the terrorist novel I wrote years after seeing a terrific movie called "The Dishonor of Katerina Blum" based on a Heinrich Boll story about this woman who has a terrorist lover. I saw a picture of the would be pope assassin Ali Aca-in his youth-and imagined what it would be like to fall in love with a murderer who murdered as a profession. This novel was probably a result of my being in therapy and seeing all men as potential terrorists. It became a blockbuster and the climax was on an Island off the coast of Ireland and she shoots him although she loves him and my agent said, "If she loved him she wouldn't have shot him."

There is also a novel set in Michigan with the opening the suicide of the heroine's husband, the man she's had two children with but cheated on. I liked that book although it was sad. The kids were well done. My agent liked some of it and kept making helpful suggestions which I mainly ignored.

The teenage vampire novel, begun before TWILIGHT, still saddens me a bit. I loved my human/vampire girl and there was an amazing ending during a high fashion show when a roof rolls away and the vampire models burst into flames. There's an evil baby and lots of other cool stuff. This bossy editor at HarperCollins kept telling me to do different things and then we all lost interest.

I have a new novel that my father is reading at the moment and I am hoping it will find me an agent and a publisher. I like the characters, I think the story is authentic and interesting and there's a nice balance between comedy and tragedy which is how I like it.

Books are born from dreams and fantasies and memories and odd thoughts. I will overhear two people discussing something and that discussion will spark a memory and that memory will birth a character and that character will begin to move around and all of a sudden I'm seeing her and things are happening and we are off to the races. Other people do things differently. They map and plot and organize and connect.
Ultimately we all end up in the same place, cradling a book or tossing a bunch of paper.

Art, like life is both brutal and gorgeous.


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