“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?



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    • Kelly Bixby on June 11, 2014 at 8:18 pm
    • Reply

    Multiple projects can be a good thing. I’ve heard that when you reach a block on one, switch to another for awhile. Hopefully, the progress made there will feel encouraging. Your advice to “finish and publish” (even if it takes ten years)is the key. Thanks.

      • Book Lover on August 19, 2014 at 11:12 am
      • Reply

      You’re welcome. Kelly

    • Book Lover on June 8, 2014 at 9:14 pm
    • Reply

    Claire, I’m so glad you enjoyed this blog.

    • Sue Remisiewicz on June 8, 2014 at 6:01 pm
    • Reply

    I can definitely relate as I look around my desk at my WIP’s! My issue is always finding or making the time.

      • Book Lover on June 8, 2014 at 9:12 pm
      • Reply

      Sue, finding or making more time to work on your WIPs probably will be continuing issue. Don’t give up.

    • Claire Murray on June 6, 2014 at 10:07 pm
    • Reply

    So true, so true! I’m still chuckling.

      • Book Lover on August 19, 2014 at 11:11 am
      • Reply

      Thanks, Claire.

  1. Nice, crisp piece, enjoyed it. My trick to break this logger jam is to take a clean piece of paper and just start typing anything related to character/scene that’s causing the block. Eventually, your characters will tell what they have to say, then put that into your 1st draft and move on.

      • Book Lover on June 8, 2014 at 9:07 pm
      • Reply

      Thank you, Phil. I like and will try your idea of writing anything related to my character or scene on a clean piece of paper. And yes, my characters do talk to me, sometimes too much.

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