My novel, The Moaning Bench, will be published in exactly one month.
It’s been a long time coming. I began the story – a murder mystery set in Atlanta and rural Georgia – more than fifteen years ago. After about three years, I sent the manuscript to a group of avid readers for feedback.
They liked it; some made excellent suggestions. I incorporated their changes and showed the book to people I knew in publishing. They weren’t interested.
So it was back to the drawing board: More polishing, more fleshing out of this and trimming of that. Then back to publishing folks, different ones this time. Again, they didn’t bite.
I showed the manuscript to friends who are published writers. They made some very good recommendations, which I accepted with great appreciation.
I outlined a sequel, featuring some of the same characters, and began writing it.
By this time, about ten or eleven years have passed. I’ve been raising a family, building a career in newspapers, enjoying a fulfilling and rewarding life – but always working on The Moaning Bench. Not always consistently, mind you: There were times when I’d go many months without touching the book.
It became sort of a running joke with my extended family and close friends:
“Hey, Larry, you ever gonna finish that book, man?”
“Dude, if you leave it in a drawer it’s just a well-written paper weight.”
Finally, two years ago, I showed it to my son, Travis. He loved it: He got it in a way that no one else had. Travis hounded me to self-publish. But alas, the years of rejection had taken a toll. I was afraid people would hate my baby.
He kept after me. “We’ll self-publish, Dad. I’ll help you.”
I resisted. Until one day he said, “Okay, I’ll just publish it after you die.”
My God, that jolted me. If my book was published, I wanted to be there to reap the kudos if any came. Much more importantly, I needed to be there to defend and explain it.
So here I am, one month out. It feels a helluva lot like waiting in the delivery room.