ecently, I came across a file in my backup drive labeled ROSS. Somehow the folder had been miss-filed. I’d not thought about my first attempt to write a novel recently, and my original research was long gone. My in-depth research about the Russian settlement of Ft. Ross, California, for one of my post-secondary degree classes, had prompted me to rewrite my report as historical fiction.
I developed a protagonist and gave him a name, Rubik Ivanovich Karnov. I put the 14-year-old into Sitka, Alaska, in 1806 and gave him plausible association with real people of the time and place. Then the Rubik’s Cube came into the public eye and gave me pause about my character’s name. I changed his first name Pyoter but called the book Peter’s Diary: The Story of Ross.
I spent many hours keyboarding my idea on an Apple II with primitive word processing software. The file I found has 34,000+ words, but I remember it being closer to 70k. When I thought the manuscript was nearly finished, I queried a publisher and got an answer I can still paraphrase. “We’ve just accepted a manuscript in this genre and don’t believe we can work with another.” I realized Michener’s Alaska had been recently published (not by the publisher I’d queried). Reading Alaska made me realize someone might have thought I’d tried to paraphrase his work. I put the entire project, including the research, in the trash. Several years later I did transfer the first half of the manuscript from an old 5-1/4 floppy disk to a more current hard drive.
Reading what I had left of the story was fun, but not seeing the work for nearly 30 years was eye-opening. The change of voice sometimes from sentence to sentence and more often from paragraph to paragraph is a problem I’ve managed to impede but not totally cure.
It would be an interesting project to rebuild the story, but with only headers for the second half of the manuscript and none of the research available, the task would be too daunting at this time of my life.
Nov. 26, 1917
Dear Josine and Children:
Your letter of the 23. came to hand this eve. It pains me to learn of the grip of sickness which has been assigned to the children at this time. I only wish I could be with you and assist you but I know there is nobody that can care for them any better than you can. But I know there is a limit to your strength as well and I do hope you will be able to keep well through the siege which has invaded the little ones. If, however, any of them becomes dangerously ill wire me at once and try to have the doctor to assist you when ever you think best.
Personally, I am well only an occasional spell of headache. I have not had the slightest cold since I came here. The weather has been fine but now it is growing colder and may storm at any time. Glad you got some coal. Surely a funny neighborhood you are in when chickens are changing roosting places over night. Better watch your coal and wood closely and try and have it securely locked up. I wish I could be there and help get them rails split, but wishing won’t help any. Better get something easy for the boys to chop as I suppose they are no one to get to chop wood.
I note the children enjoy Mutt and Jeff so will send along a few more . Hope Agnes will be out of danger by this time. She is not so very strong and you better keep her out of school until she has fully recovered. Will arrange to send you some money by the 1st so you can pay back the $100\00 at the bank.
I have heard nothing new from John since I send you his letter. Went to church last evening and the sermon was on “Preparedness” Mathews chapter 24, and it was very good. I also wrote to Gilman Lien yesterday. Have been very busy today.
Tell Agnes she must hurry up and get well and strong again. Will close with love to you all and I am imagining H &Kiss from your old Hubby.
ust after my last post, I got the note I’d hoped to not receive from Ooligan Press. “Upon review, we have decided that your work does not fit our present needs.”
Of course, I was disappointed. Who wouldn’t be? However, the feedback following “… does not fit…” was assurance that my submission was actually read. I will take the advice given by Ooligan reviewers and continue the project.
nother work has been submitted to another place. The acknowledgement of receipt said if I don’t hear in 30 days, it’s not being considered. That’s much-appreciated short turnaround for an answer.
Headlines about North Korean activities and coverage of the South Korean Olympics have reminded me of my time in Korea in March sixty-years ago. I just finished and submitted a short true-story piece about that memory for the “Everybody Has a Story” section in our local newspaper, The Columbian.
ive months ago, I submitted a novella manuscript to Ooligan Press.
When the manuscript was requested for review, I was told that there would be a number of readers before a decision to publish would be made. I’d expected that to take some time but inquired the Ooligan Acquisitions Department about the progress anyway.
I got a reply in less than a day. “We assure you that your manuscript is still under consideration and we will be in touch by the end of this week, once our reviewers have reached a consensus.”
This is a good opportunity to practice patience and be ready to take the next step with Ooligan or submit elsewhere. Nevertheless, progress has been made.
or well over a year, I’ve struggled with a story I started 4 years ago, that I felt was necessary to tell. In the review /edit process, I got off track. I wasn’t comfortable with what I thought was a finished novel late last year. It wasn’t the story I really wanted to tell.
To any and all who read parts or all of my concept draft: Please don’t consider my comments a slam on your technical efforts to help me do a better job. I know each of you had my best interest in mind, and the derailment was my doing. I just didn’t recognize the intent of your input – you had no intent to change the story – you just wanted me to do a better job. So, thanks for your efforts – I’ll keep what you meant in mind as I rewrite.
When I realized my consternation about the work, I feared my original work was lost. I needed it for reviewing and focusing on my original intent. Fortunately, I’m somewhat of a digital hoarder. It took nearly an hour of searching my own variations on what I thought my original title was, but I found it on an external hard drive.
I also found some of the first reader’s non-technical comments that inspired me to continue the work.
SS – I was captured by the story so much the first time that I thought it was a true account, even though the preface stated that it was fictional. I was surprised how strongly the narrative captivated me again. It also helps and is enjoyable to read a book that describes places and things that I am familiar with.
RB – I can’t put it down…will finish “Recovery (chapter)” last 10 pages and go to sleep. This is so plausible and readable and will appeal to a much broader audience than old spooks.
SM – You have woven a fascinating story with a wonderful twist. I love those kinds of stories. You have built the locations and characters rich and full, so I can see them as I read. Your dialogue flows naturally, not forced.
NO – The characters seem real. My favorite is Annemarie. As far as I’ve read so far there is a Christian thread but, it’s not preachy.
o, it’s back to work with renewed energy. I’ll try very hard to not get derailed again.