In 2017, I wrote my first novel. Pfft, first and only. It’s the longest thing I’ve ever written, obviously, but BY FAR. For three years I have half-heartedly worked on the second draft. I hate almost every moment of this. The book centers around multiple characters over roughly four decades, and while it is centered in southern West Virginia, it stretches out beyond those borders from time to time. I’ve also made up towns so I have this map with fake towns in real counties charted on it. When I wrote the first draft, I didn’t keep track of timelines or even names (my husband after reading it said, “You have like 10 Betties in there.” To which I said, “Well, um, there are a lot of Betties around here. “)
So, because I didn’t know what I was doing and just let my imagination run wild, I’m having to go back in and essentially build a world and a history around these characters so it feels rooted in reality. Plus, I have to refine the story and cut things and add things. I whine a lot. I can’t imagine how fantasy and science fiction writers build their worlds. I don’t have the mettle for it.
While doing this, I’m also mostly hating the whole thing because I love to finish a project (of any kind) and never think of it again. My discipline exists in short-spurts; a commitment of this kind makes me crazy. I keep writing other, new things instead.
And then people ask what it’s about, and I really can’t explain it which makes me wonder — “Is that good? Or bad?” My nose is pressed too far in. I can’t see it anymore, friends.
I can tell you that it follows three separate families that brush into each other because of their faith. It’s about being afraid of Jesus and doubtful of Jesus and most of all — trying to control Jesus. It’s about shame and violence and addiction and love. It’s about West Virginia. And, I think, it’s about the mysterious mercy bleeding through all of our little dramas.
I don’t know if it will ever be finished.