Never Give Up
A few years ago, I decided I decided to write a novel. I had written plenty of poetry, a couple of plays, short stories, and a multi genre book—much of which was published. Since I had read and taught numerous novels, I thought I should be able to do it. I enjoy a challenge, and I got one. The first problem I encountered was finding a subject that would be worthwhile. I did not want to just make up a story; I wanted to convey something meaningful. I enjoy reading historical fiction with romance, so I tried that. After several false starts, I was bored, so I knew readers would be, too.
Realizing I love science fiction, I wrote a speculative fiction novel. I sent out queries to agents and got a few nice comments, but no takes. So I thought about what else I could write. Since I enjoy tutoring legal refugees in our city and learning about their pasts, I wrote a novella loosely based on some of their experiences. I discovered it is even harder to get a novella published, though I didn’t try that hard because I had a call to return to the first novel I started, Miss Lila’s Place. The redirection happened while I was visiting family in Farmville, VA, my hometown. Talking to people and looking around, I realized it was an ideal place to set a story, and some of the information was a part of my own past.
Prince Edward County is filled with interesting history—The War Between the States and massive resistance to integration being prominent. It has the lure of two institutes of higher education, Longwood University and Hampden-Sydney College. As with all places if someone cares to unearth them, it has had its share of crimes. Along with a healthy imagination, I had all I needed. I admit that I did not set out to write a thriller; it just happened. One reason is because of a man I had known for years who the model of an ideal heroic character- James in my novel. Before he passed away, I promised him he would become a character in a book I would write.
Before I began, I did some brain storming about my experiences growing up there. With the help of family, I obtained the information I needed about the history of the area. I did research as needed. I would like to say it fell into place easily and quickly, but I that is not true. I wrote alone and workshopped with a small group of friends. When other activities drew my attention away, I left it alone for long periods of time. Still, I never gave up on it, and neither should anyone. Maybe because I write spontaneously as opposed to outlining, the time came when I had enough information, instruction, and determination to finish it. I think my character James says it best, “God’s time is not out time, but he’s always on time.”