A week ago I stagnated in the draft of my new novel. This wasn’t mere writer’s block…it was a fugue about where the book was headed. At roughly the mid-point of the novel, I was unsatisfied with the progress and came to the conclusion that I needed to revise the draft, alter the plot, re-imagine the characters, and possibly change the point of view. I prefer not to throw the baby out with the bath water, so I concluded a critical reading to salvage what I could and started over.
The novel had been entitled Scenes from an Untethered Life…I liked that title when I first created it more than two years ago, but the themes it dictated seem hollow now. The new title is Harmony House. The protagonist and many of the primary characters continue to inhabit the neighborhood setting in which I located them, but their attitudes, their circumstances, and their actions take the book in a different direction…a more optimistic and hopeful direction. I suppose therein lies the change: hope.
I enjoy the examination of relationships in my fiction…some readers have commented that my reflections along these lines lack humor, implying that I am funny but my work is serious, or sad. The sad clown comes to mind, but strikes me as a bit too trite. As well, death has been a central feature in each of my works of fiction…but I have tried to use it as a springboard to self-discovery. Harmony House is no different…the death of a character moves the work and provides much of the impetus for what happens throughout.
To butcher a metaphor, the decision to rework the book is more than changing horses mid-stream: I’ve turned around and galloped off in search of a new stream. The only thing I’ve sacrificed is time, but that’s a commodity in abundance, and the freedom I now feel…my personal untethering…energizes me.
It’s a good decision…it steers me toward the book I want to write, rather than the book I found myself writing.