Time for a Novel

Last week I received some long hoped-for good news: my university awarded me a generous summer research grant to work on the next draft of a novel. When I submitted my application in October, I included a proposed timeline of May and June. But now there’s another challenge, beyond that of the actual writing.

I signed a book contract in early January for Measuring Time & Other Stories. That book is slated to be released in August, if all goes well. I’m currently working on my own revisions of the book, with a self-imposed deadline of early April before I send it along to the main editor. Through May and June, he and I will be going through the book again, making revisions, and then there’s the process of checking the proof.

Once the book leaves my control and heads off to print, I’ll spend July and the first half of August working on this long-abandoned novel: Pallid Faith. It’s set in western Minnesota. Here is the working opening line: “During the summer of 1998, I was in love with three women: one I thought I would marry, one I was fairly confident I couldn’t marry, and one I eventually did marry.”

Here’s some of the writing backstory. In November 2011, while teaching at my prior institution, I participated in National Novel-Writing Month, an annual international event that encourages writers of all levels to complete the first draft of a novel in thirty days. The draft must be at least 50,000 words. By month’s end, I achieved my goal.

In the years since those thirty days, I have tried to pick up the novel, but with no success. The timing never felt right, and I wasn’t certain how to go about the revision. Now, however, I have the right window of time to work on the next draft.

It is also helpful to know that I have a project waiting for me after Measuring Time & Other Stories is out of my hands. Sometimes, after I’ve finished a big writing project, I flail about for several weeks trying to figure out what I should tackle next. I’m excited about returning to this manuscript and seeing how I can transform it, benefiting from the distance of almost eight years, having grown as a writer and as a person.


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