A Writer's Dilemma: What if My Novel Matters Only to Me?
“I’ve finished my book,” so I have declared many times over the last decade, and yet I refuse to let it go; for what if it’s not perfect? What if readers don’t like it? Don’t “get” what I’m trying to say? On and on the carousel of doubt spins, a hopeful writer floundering on the platform. I close my eyes tight, colors swirling by, and wait until it’s safe to move. But the longer I wait, the more difficult it becomes to proceed. Move I must, or stay stuck in a never-ending cycle of pride and doubt.
The seed of my novel was planted roughly nine years ago, a single image putting pencil to paper: a young girl of about 16 standing in a forest with a bow in her hand, a talking white-tailed deer in the foreground. I wrote that initial scene as though it would soon fade from my sight – my pencil hurriedly working to keep pace with the vision before me. That young girl clung to my imagination, urging me to continue her story – for she had something profound to say.
While I’ve made roughly six revisions to her story over the years, Graysea’s journey remains pivotal to the heart and spirit of this work of fiction. She matters to me, but I wonder often whether she’ll matter to others. It’s taken many years to realize that I will never know the answer unless I make her story known. I am proud of the novel I’ve created, and the world in which the characters inhabit. I love the feel of it, the magical/mystical energy I intentionally imbued within the words I chose.
Our reality features much loss, anger, hatred, and violence; so much so that I feel as though I’m suffocating in the misery. I believe that my story can bring joy to at least one reader; proof that love, magic, hope, and courage remain a vital tool to solving what ails us. Art can move, inspire, and heal – shame on me for doubting that fact even a little. My eyes cleared and my spirit soared during a recent visit to a 42-acre sculpture park in Hamilton, NJ. At Grounds for Sculpture, beauty and art blend; featuring stunning artwork, gardens of stone and ones of greenery, and a sereneness I once thought lost.
I strolled down tree-lined pathways, alive to each sensation. I let the sun warm my face while the gentle breeze kissed my cheeks. I took pictures everywhere, partly to capture memories, but also because I’d located the place that embodies my novel. Inspiration encircled me, and I finally felt ready to let Graysea’s story go.
There is more work to do, first of which is to decide which publishing path to pursue (traditional, independent, or self-publish). I’m working on a detailed map and assembling a visual inspiration board – filled with photos of gardens, castles, manor houses, and more.
“I’ve finished my book,” I declare once more before adding, “Now I must prepare her to walk on without me.”
by Kelly Deeny
*All of the pictures shown were taken at Grounds for Sculpture - visit their website (or better yet, the park/museum) to see the beauty firsthand.*