I put Jeep back up on the banner Thursday morning. For the first time in longer than I care to admit, I read my unfinished novel Jeep Thompson and the Lost Prince of Venus, and darned if it isn’t better than I remember.
We creative types are our own worst enemies, because of that inner critic who insists that whatever we write is not as good as it could be. That evil impulse, to tear down our every effort, is downright diabolical and the cause of every unfinished novel in the world.
The other day I got to thinking, my most successful work of fiction was not a novel but a series of novelettes. What if I were to break my imagined 40,000-45,000 word novel into three novelettes of about 15,000 words each? That was what brought Jeep back up on my screen Thursday.
I decided I would practice the (hopefully) inevitable audiobook and started reading the manuscript out loud. That was as good an exercise as the coaches said it would be — I found some clunky phrases and words to clean up, and it helped me feel the emotion I was trying to convey.
But the exercise yielded two important revelations. First, what I said up there in the first paragraph: I like how the story is going. Second, and this is what made me put Jeep back up on the banner: If this is a trilogy of novelettes, the first installment is finished. It’s done. Act One is ready for prime time: The legend of Jeep Thompson would be ready for launch today, if I were to take a leap of faith that I could finish and launch Acts Two and Three before your interest fades.
I toyed with that idea, I really did: I saw myself posting the 15 chapters of the first novelette, a day at a time, for the next two weeks, in hopes Chapters 16 through 30 would be ready starting on the 16th day. That’s the insidious thing about the joy of finishing: Conceiving a set of three smaller works instead of One Longer Beast set me up to have an early victory — the first novelette is done! — but in my excitement I almost set myself up for probable defeat when I didn’t get the next 15 chapters finished in 15 days.
And so Jeep is back on the banner, I’ve passed the first hurdle, I’m well into the second novelette, I’m focused on finishing, but I’m not making any specific promises yet. Like George Lucas and his Star Wars trilogies, I have plans for nine Jeep Thompson novelettes, three trilogies, each trilogy a novel. Actually, my plan for the Jeep Thompson universe also includes — no, wait, I’m on the cusp of saying too much, and don’t you hate when people start to reveal something and say, “No, wait, I’d better not tell you that”?
In any case, if it turns out that the history of Jeep Thompson’s creation is worth telling, let the record show that April 20, 2023, was an important date, the day that Jeep’s chronicler realized that Act One of this nine-act adventure was indeed finished. I can’t wait until you read it — well, that’s disingenuous, because I CAN wait. I just wish Acts Two and Three were as ready as Act One is.