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The Red Road is finished. I put the entire manuscript in an InDesign template, and am working on the final formatting touches.
At this point, it’s down to nitpicking for hyphens and em dashes and ellipses (oh my!). I’m the kind of writer who could tinker and edit forever, so naturally, as I look at what I’ve written, there are parts I want to do over. But it’s time to let go, which brings me to a different problem.
I think I’ve written a book no one will read.
It’s not flashy or action-packed.
It’s not a genre book.
It’s straight-up general fiction, somewhere between literary and commercial, a cross between Jodi Picoult and Curtis Sittenfeld. I don’t even read Jodi Picoult. Why? Because I don’t care about real-life family drama. So why the hell did I just spend two years writing one? I don’t know. Financially, it’s probably suicide. It’s going to be a bitch to market. And I don’t think it’s going to sell. Again, I have to ask myself…what the hell did I do it for?
Anatomy of a Bad Decision
I think I had to. I had to find out if I could write something non-genre, without spies, guns, treasure, vampires, or missing jewels. This book is my Little Women. I’m Jo, writing Gothic-inspired stuff because it’s what I like. And my conscience was Friedrich, telling me to look inside instead. The Red Road is what came out.
This book was painful to write, not only because it had to be realistic, but because the characters are based on my family. Bad things happened to these characters. Their ugly sides came out, and I had to hurt everyone in the book. Ruin their lives, in fact. If you had to destroy your own family on paper, every day for nearly two years, believe me, it gets to you.
I couldn’t face the final chapter for months. I didn’t want to re-read it, let alone edit it, because it was too soul-crushing. The only thing that convinced me to keep going was the fact that I couldn’t move on and write something else until I’d put this book to bed. I’m not sure what that says about me or about the book. I do know that somehow, I found the guts to spend hours on end revising that final chapter, sobbing and reaching for the Black Velvet. The writers who say they don’t drink only write things with happy endings.
The End Is the Beginning Is the End
I wish I’d realized that writing was the easy part. Now I have to get ready to send this book out into the world and that has me petrified. I don’t think anyone’s going to like it. It’s not a book that makes you feel good. It’s claustrophobic. It’s unsettling. Frankly, it doesn’t offer very much hope. You know those inspirational quotes that everyone loves on Pinterest? The ones ones that say if you’re not pissing someone off, you’re not doing your job? It’s easy to make a cute, pinnable image with that saying. It’s a lot harder to live it.
When I wrote The Romanov Legacy, I knew it would be good. Was it perfect? Forget about it. But it was good. Damn good. Worthy of a reader’s money.
But The Red Road…oh holy Jesus, I don’t know. I’m scared, you guys.
If you’re with me on this journey because you want more of Natalie and Beth and Constantine, I hear ya. I’m getting to work on two new pieces with them as soon as The Red Road is launched. But if you’re with me because you’re tired of the same old same old and you’re tired of books that sugar-coat everything, when the time comes, I’ll ask you to take a chance on The Red Road. I’ll be shaking in my boots until it’s time to punch the big, red Launch button.
Want to make a quick buck?
Buy stock in Black Velvet when The Red Road hits the market. The writers who say they don’t drink only write things with happy endings.
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