Many years ago, I had written a novel, about which I was pleased, but felt something was not right. I couldn’t think it out. It was a rather serious tale about a rural boy who had his revenge on his tormentors. I sent it to my agent (Dorothy Markinko), who read it and suggested I come and see her so we might talk about it. That I did, and we did talk over a leisurely lunch. It was toward the end of that meeting that she said to me, “Have you considered turning the book into a comic novel? A lot of it made me laugh.”
To say the least, that took me by surprise. My book was not meant, in any way, to be funny.
But I went back to my desk and with her words in my head, took up the manuscript, read it, and realized she was … right. I suddenly saw the book in a whole new way.
With much rewriting the published book emerged as The History of Helpless Harry.
The point of all this is, it is not unusual to work on a book—work it all the way through—and yet sense that something is not right. The task then is to work backward and find where the book took the wrong road, so to speak. It’s not an easy thing to do. It requires beyond all else, a willingness to look at your work with almost clinical objectivity. Beyond that objectivity a contradiction, an intuitive sense of where your tale wandered wrong.
Sometimes you need to find the road not taken, and take it.
Why am I writing this? Because—in regard to the book I am working on—I’m looking for the road I should have taken. I think it is somewhere around page 72 …