At first I had a nice, easily-handled tale - a story of two individuals, perhaps three - who are in conflict with one another, although one of those individuals only realizes said conflict a ways into the story. But, as so often happens, on some reflection, and dissatisfaction with the direction of the tale, I realized that it was but a portion of the tale. There seemed to be much more to be told.
Am I unwilling to go through with it? Am I afraid of writing a huge novel?
My first novel, "Benning's War" - soon to be available at LULU.com as well as ePress - did the same bloody annoying thing! Now I ask you: do any of you go through the same thing? Look, I had a perfectly decent little article on an incident in the American Revolution. That's all I had in mind. Nothing more! And is that what I had at the end?
NooOOOOoooo! Of course not! Why not?
If I recall ... as I read the article, my mind's eye (yes, we have that! A Cinema in our brains that shows us things.) summoned up images and dialogue. Now, there was not one word of dialogue in the article, yet I was hearing it in my mind! Well, poop!
So, I figured, "Why not write that down?" After all, a short story can earn a little money, just as an article can. And I worked at that short story. Put a lot of sweat and writer's cramp into it. And when it was finished, the Mind's Eye was still showing me "Coming Attractions". I could re-read that short, and say to myself, "This is pretty good, Old Boy." But I knew I wasn't finished. And I hated that!
Damn it! Look, this was beginning to cut into my lazy, leasure time. I don't want to write any stinkin' novel! ("We don' need no stinkin' batches!" - name that motion picture!) My dreams are dead and buried! Finished! I had urges to write when I was far younger, but life goes on, y'know? And I left that behind, before my acting dreams died, before my Art dreams died. Dead and gone!
By Golly, I was not gonna stir up an old dream. I'm not interested. Who needs to be rejected again? To hell with that! I am my own man, and in no mood to listen further.
So, of course I sat down and started writing. When I had done much of the story, and done quite a bit of research, too, I decided I wanted to see it. The ground. I wanted to be at the Waxhaws, climb the sides of Kings Mountain. See the Watauga River at Sycamore Shoals. Feel the weather in South Carolina in May. So I went.
Took my brother along - no Lady at the time, and who wants to do these things alone, eh? Well, I didn't! And Tim made a fine companion - and we met in Charlotte, rented a car, and drove up to Boone, North Carolina. We did a lot of driving! Up and down! North, through the mountains, and into Tennessee. On to Elizabethton, the present-day site of the Watauga Settlements, and Sycamore Shoals on the Watauga River. Then down to Kings Mountain, and a hot climb up to the top and back down. We rented a motel room, then rose the next day to drive down to the Waxhaws, the place where so many brave men died. The place that started all of this folderol.
Good Lord! It's almost not there! Sad, haunted place. A turnaround by the side of the road, information on the Park Service sign incorrect. A quiet place where brave men died, many years ago. And it looked surprisingly as I envisioned it! Only, in reverse! Where I had seen the Virginians on the east of the Waxhaws road - in my mind's eye - with the British Legion charging down the rise from the west, it was, in fact, the exact opposite. I think if it had been as I foresaw it, I might have tossed the entire book! It would have been far too spooky a happening.
But the trip inspired me to do some revisions, make some changes. And also, almost from the start of the writing, I had co-workers and friends who agreed to read snippets, and chapters as I finished them, and give me thier honest opinions. They were very helpful. And very tough! Finally, the manuscript finished, my family pleased with the result, I sent it to a small publisher here in Florida.
I figured a publisher where I live might be more inclined to publish me. Wrong. I received a polite rejection letter. Not a helpful word in the entire thing. Just one of those, "This doesn't fit our needs at present" letters. ooOOooooh! How stinkin' helpful! Yeesh!
So, with my very first official rejection in hand, I put away my book. And almost forgot about it.