Mr. Fab and I just moved house. We had lived in our old house for thirteen years and it’s fair to say we had accumulated a lot of stuff. So, for the month before we moved, we set about the task of purging. Which meant I had to face…da–da–da–daaaah…the office.
Oh, good grief. You wouldn’t believe the amount of clutter I’d gathered there. I had receipts dating back to 2010, cross-stitch projects I started for my young nieces, who are now in their 20s, and a giant stuffed Nemo that my nephew’s girlfriend won at the county fair and then couldn’t fit in her suitcase. I had stationery, bags, gift wrap, colored paper, even the user’s manual for a car I don’t own anymore. I had no idea just how much junk I had been hoarding.
Once I’d pulled all of it out and tossed several bags of trash and recycling, I finally made it down to my box of abandoned manuscripts. Ugh, what a trip down memory lane that was.
I found a very early version of A Strange Companion, then titled Bond of Souls, in which Kat is a decade older and working as an auto mechanic in San Francisco. I know there are gems in there (Mary-Jo Lipinsky Meyers, one of my favorite characters) but the story takes a serious turn south around the middle and should never be read.
I found My Mother’s Eyes, a story about a girl who discovers the woman who raised her was her grandmother and sets out to find her birth mother. Meh. I found a screenplay attempt that was so terrible the only bit worth salvaging was the character of Mr. Scroggins, the cat who charmed his way into Kat’s mother’s heart in A Strange Companion. I also found Thicker Than Water, a story based on a vivid dream I had of two sisters tied by a hidden secret. Great concept, but also flawed. This, at least, had sufficient potential to be dusted off and re-examined. In fact, it’s the story I’m rewriting for this year’s National Novel Writing Month. (You can follow along with my progress through my daily Instagram posts.)
Most published authors, when pressed, will admit to several abandoned novels squirreled away in drawers and under beds or in the back of stuffed closets. For most writers, it takes time for ability to catch up with the vision, and the truth is, some novels just aren’t ready to debut.
I discarded much of the paper I found in my office, packing and moving only selected versions of completed books, and a copy of each of the unfinished ones. Even though there are hours and hours invested in those novels, they belong in the back of my new closet, where perhaps my literary heirs will discover and publish them against my will, and I will quietly turn in my grave.