Have you ever written something that you are really excited about, that you love with a capital L, and that you know others will love if only they’d get a chance to read it, BUT you’re pretty sure no publisher would touch it? No? Well folks, I’m in a bit of a predicament because I’ve done such a thing. I wrote this story called The Legend of Jackson Murphy in late 2009, early 2010. Over the past year I’ve tinkered with it. Changed the POV about three times, rewrote scenes, added some, took some away, modified dialogue, played about with the setting and now I’m on the final rewrite before I deem it either done or garbage.
Yes, I said garbage. Not literally throwing it out or deleting it, but setting in permanently aside to gather dust with the lonely Happiness Hills. I’m actually asking myself why I’m working so hard at this thing when I’m fairly certain it will never see a bookshelf unless I self publish it. And we know that I won’t do that.
It’s not the writing, because I can write and rewrite until this sucker shines. I know that. And it’s funny. Of course, you need a sense of humor or that doesn’t matter. My concern is the POV character. Jackson Murphy. You see, Jack is disgusting and vile and awesome. He is the guy you love to hate. He doesn’t care about anyone but Jack and Jack’s money. He loves sex, hates his wife, and is ambivalent about his three children. Can you see a publisher taking a chance on a protagonist who is unlikable? I’m still on the fence about that one. That’s why I will probably polish this and then…I don’t really know what then. To change him ruins the story. I know, you’ve heard that a million times. But, I’ve had this to readers twice and both times, the readers would agree (I think) that to change him makes the whole story pointless. The story IS Jack’s assholeness. In fact I love that he is so scummy.
You don’t know what I’m talking about so I’ll share a little more about it. Here’s the premise for The Legend of Jackson Murphy:
What would you do if you could ‘eliminate’ your problems without paying the consequences? Jackson Murphy is a successful contractor, with a nice house and a nice family and a wicked mistress. He has everything a guy could want, but he has learned that everyone else wants it too. Well, Jack doesn’t share, and he’ll do anything to make sure that what is his, remains his. Jack’s going to get away with murder, even if it kills him.
So it’s kind of suckish as a blurb, but I haven’t quite made it to synopsis tweaking stage or even a query stage. I’m just sort of sitting on it.
Here’s a scene, and it’s graphic. Lot’s of swearing and well, if you’re easily offended, go read a different blog. This one isn’t for you.
A million thoughts running through his head added together to confuse his plans for the meeting with Asshole Thorne. Jack pushed the door open–jackass James didn’t lock a damn thing–and tossed his keys at the hook. They clattered to the floor.
“Fuck it.” Jack rounded the corner and skidded to a halt, his brain unable to believe what his eyes said they were seeing. If there was one thing he could have gone his whole life without seeing, this would have been it. James had made a friend, and he was fucking her on Jack’s kitchen counter.
Not sure what to do, Jack stood at the table wishing someone would gouge his eyes out of his head and bleach the memory from his brain. He stared for a full minute, rage bubbling to a boil in his gut.
Who nailed some chick he barely knew on someone else’s counter top?
What the fuck? Nasty. That’s what.
Now Jack would have to rip the damn thing out and fumigate or something. The girl looked as though she crawled out from under a bridge somewhere. Her hair had that skunky look, dark underneath with blond on the top layer. Why did women think that was even remotely attractive? It was just plain weird, that’s what it was. Weird and tacky. Trailer trash hair.
Jack tilted his head, she leaned a little on the fat side of chubby too, and he could tell since her fat ass was plopped atop his counter. All dimply and scarred, it jiggled every time she moved…or every time James pounded her. Ugh. Jack vomited a little in his mouth.
Swallowing it back, he strode to the counter. James had his back to him, completely oblivious to his audience. Jack reached with his left hand and picked up the pan from the stove, raised it over his shoulder and cracked James in the back of the head. The skunk screamed and tried to cover her sagging breasts while James swore, grabbing his head as he jumped away from her. His erection couldn’t sustain the blow. Jack almost laughed.
“What are you doing, you fucking idiot?” Jack asked.
“Jesus Jack, why do you always have to go there? You can’t just say excuse me? You gotta fucking hit me? With a frying pan? Shit, you are mental.”
Okay, so one scene. It’s just been rewritten from first to third so yeah. I see the bumpy parts. Let’s imagine it’s edited, yet again.
Here’s my question; How do you know when a manuscript is just not worth the effort anymore? Does that ever happen? Has it happened to you?
And just in case you think I’m getting soft and all whiny and crying over a single story and doubting myself or any bullshit like that, I’m not. Jeesh, I love what I write. I love this manuscript. I’m just trying to be realistic and I think that perhaps I’ve played with Jack too long. I’ve lost my objectivity in judging his worth either way. I don’t think I’d see crap if it were crappy and I also don’t think I’d see gold if there were any in there. Know what I mean?
9 thoughts on “I Want Your Thoughts (No really, I Do.)”
I love the characters you love to hate! And I am sure lot of other people do to! Following you from Twitter FF#. Visit my blog at http://hungrigyrl.blogspot.com
This is what I was thinking when I wrote this story. Now, to convince the 'powers that be'. Checking out your blog now. Thanks for stopping by.
No, you're not getting soft. Just consider that when I Do and Dirty Truths are published, your fans will scream for a follow-up. Then you can bat your eyelashes at the editor and pull Jack out of your magic hat.Soft? You? Please…
Ah, so that's how it's done. I'll keep Jack hidden away so that when they think they know me, BAM! They're all like, "Wow, I did NOT see that one coming."
Sounds interesting. WHy don't you have somebody who's not close to you and objective read it. BTW, thanks for the comment on my blog. I've seen your picture and I KNOW you're better looking than a Swedish Whore. I saw Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and it's not even a contest!
So tell me why I'll want to read about Jack if he's so contemptible? Characters you love to hate still have to have some redeeming characteristic for the reader to invest in him.My guess is you know what that is–even if you haven't verbalized it yet. Your job is to make the editors see that too. I know. No help whatsoever. My brain is mush today.
No, actually that's very helpful Maria. I do know why people like Jack, it's just putting that into words. Thanks.
It sounds like you have so much passion and enthusiasm for these characters, it's much more likely "done" than the other option that shall not even be named. But I love the do or die attitude here; I think it leads to braver writing. Kudos.
Thanks, Samuel. I do really love these characters. My attitude is usually do or die. I hate leaving anything undecided. Loose ends drive me nuts. It often leads to rather impulsive decisions, so I suppose it's not the best method. 🙂