“The road to hell is paved with works-in-progress.” — Philip Roth
Don’t feel guilty because you have too many works-in-progress with no end in sight. Take a look at your unfinished manuscripts and ask yourself why you can’t complete them.
Afraid your work will be rejected by publishers? Consider the case of Marvin V. Arnett whose memoir was rejected by publishers over 90 times. She decided to put the manuscript away until her family helped self-publish the book. Each chapter stands alone yet threads together a story of urban social history beginning with her birth during the depression and ending with Detroit’s 1943 race riots. Ms. Arnett’s successful book and standing-room-only lectures about Detroit were brought to the attention of the University of Nebraska Press which reprinted the book under the title, Pieces from Life’s Crazy Quilt. The book was required reading in one of their classes.
Afraid you don’t know enough about a particular topic to complete a convincing plot? I admire the persistence of author Heather Buchanan in completing Dark River, a well-crafted book about scandal, love, murder, and a 100 year-old tragedy. Her manuscript was a work-in-progress for ten years as she researched Detroit’s history, rewrote, and finally published her successful novel. The idea for Dark River came when Ms. Buchanan read a Detroit 300 newspaper article which mentioned the first known slave in Detroit. The woman was buried at St. Anne’s Church near the river and Ms. Buchanan imagined what the woman’s story could have been.
Afraid you have too much story for one book? Highly rated romance writer, Karen White Owens, changed her works-in-progress to a multi-book series, several additional novels, a novella, and has recently published two Angels-in-Waiting eBooks, using non-traditional angels to move her heartwarming stories along. The ethereal comings and goings of her angels and their non-typical interplay with humans is surprising.
Are you afraid readers won’t like what you’ve written? You can’t please everyone, but you’ll miss the opportunity to entertain or inform readers if you don’t finish and publish your work.
I’m working on all the above issues. My manuscripts include a want-to-be novel that needs more historical research, a romance with characters whose story seems to never end, and short memoirs that may not interest anyone except my family and perhaps not even them.
After putting aside my writing out of frustration, I realized that Philip Roth was talking about me. My many works-in-progress are going to be my path straight to hell. Care to join me?