I wrote my first novel ten years ago. It began life as a romance novel and died a horror novel. No joke. Like Barbara Cartland morphing into Stephen King.
In my defense (if stupidity can be considered so) I’d never read a romance Romance before, but this was about a man and a woman and sex and all that good stuff, so that’s a romance novel, right? So, I joined the local Romance Writers of America chapter. I attended meetings and learned much from the great Alicia Rasley who co-authors a great blog Edittorrent. I even entered my first 30 pages in a major contest and received some helpful feedback. So helpful, in fact, that I learned what I had written was NOT a romance. The judges told me quite politely—considering—that you can’t have the protagonist committing adultery with a younger woman, while his adoring—and quite possibly dying—wife carries on blindly, cooking healthy meals to keep his cholesterol down and reminiscing about how he stole her heart at first sight. Bad form, that.
But … but … but … I had 80,000 words written! Sooooo, there’s always revision. What if some evil entity—immortal, of course—searching for the loving couple who escaped his wrath 200 years ago, comes to town in the guise of a realtor, meets Philandering Husband and says, “Gotcha, boy, and now I’m gonna make you pay!” Oh, the transformation was marvelous. Suddenly, I had reincarnation, telepathy, demonic possession, mind control … just all sorts of goodies to work with. Not to mention, a vicious, bloody end to Younger Woman.
But here’s the thing, I’ve never forgotten this protagonist. Every so often, I get a wave of guilt for writing him into such a mess. I feel like I owe him a better novel. So, today I dared to open those long-shut files. I was prepared to cringe at the quality of writing, but you know, it really isn’t all that bad. And sure, I’d have to lose the supernatural elements, and the violence, and it might be nice to give Darling Wife a brain, but hey, it’s 90,000 words already written! Maybe … just maybe …