FLIGHT RISK: After surviving a plane crash but wandering off into a trauma-induced fugue state, a previously reliable husband, father, and successful businessman attempts to put his life back together while enduring the stigma of his psychological collapse.
It’s unsettling to be working on a novel I thought I’d finished writing several years ago. It was called A SERIOUS LAPSE back then. My agent had thought it complete. She submitted to editors. Some kind words in return, but no publishers bought. Disappointed and angry, I shelved the novel.
I moved on and wrote a dystopian novel of the most commercial variety I could imagine, THE CULLING. My agent wanted nothing to do with it. Neither did anyone else, except me. Yet the novel gripped my heart, of course—it was one of my children.
So I moved on once again and wrote another novel, THIS GAME WE PLAY, and my entire inner circle mostly loved it. Agent is also excited. But the publishing market is in a state of shock, and my agent won’t be submitting the novel to publishers until after the new year.
Meanwhile, and all along, I have been unable to get A SERIOUS LAPSE out of my mind. I’ve begun working on it yet again. I’ve renamed it to FLIGHT RISK. I’m spending a lot of writing time reimagining the story, the characters, the central questions, the narrative arc and subplots and pacing and structure and scene arrangement and meaning.
On a novel that was supposedly already finished.
This brings up two thoughts:
- A SERIOUS LAPSE was nowhere near as good as I pretended it to be or thought it was, because look at all the work I’ve continued putting into it.
- I knew all along that something wasn’t right about the novel and I’m trying to make it right now, which I may or may not be able to do.
Both of these statements are true. What’s also true is that I’ve been working on this novel forever. My first notes on the novel date back to 2013. My first draft was complete in 2015. It was submitted to publishers in 2017.
All I can say is: A writer gonna write what the muse demands to be written. Even if that means dozens of rewrites, episodes of self-doubt, occasional periods of confidence, and unwavering determination.
The first chapter is mostly the same across versions. After that, new directions abound.