writing

TBSOL Final Version: Why Oh Why

coffenb

I’ve received a few emails regarding TBSOL “v3” which I’m choosing to call TBSOL FV (final version) because if I think of it as TBSOL v3 I’ll start convulsing. It’s really not v3. It’s more like… if v1 met up with v2 and they got married and had a kid and that kid grew up and settled down and became an accountant or something. You know? No? Okay.

A few people have asked me why I don’t just publish v2. Well…I can’t, because it’s nowhere near ready. Really. There is a lot that’s wrong with it and most of the reasons why can be attributed to the fact that it took me forever to write it.

A Short History of v2

I started v2 at the end of 2004/start of 2005 (I don’t remember when exactly). I had a lot going on at the time, not the least of which was quitting my job, getting rid of most of my stuff and moving to France. I’d also just learned that yet another of my publishing contracts had fallen through (I’d signed my first one in 2001 and my second in 2003 and neither worked out). I felt dejected, and humiliated by the fact that I’d told people I was going to be published only to have to say — yet again — “Nope, never mind.” At the time I took it all to heart. I thought it was a personal failure. It wasn’t, at all, but that’s how it felt at the time and that feeling of not being good enough seeped into everything.

So I started TBSOL v2 with a lot of tears and frustration and a persistent feeling that I was a complete fraud and that I’d never be a “real” writer.

Then I moved to France in the summer of 2005 and I quit writing fiction. I got a job as a blogger and a freelance writer and I started making money that way and I thought screw fiction — I don’t need you. I still opened up Rayne and TBSOL and wrote words here and there but there were blog posts to write and paying projects to finish and those took priority. I didn’t realize this at the time, but I was miserable.

Life continued on in the way that it does, and things happened as they always do. I was losing jobs left and right and panicking about money. I got really sick and had to have surgery. My visa expired. My grandparents got really sick. Then my mom got really sick and I couldn’t leave France because my visa had expired and I had no way to get back if I left. I was worried and stressed out all the time. I had several emotional meltdowns for a consistent period of about 6 months, during which all I did was cry every single day. It was not a good time. But then my grandparents got better and my mom got better and K and I sorted out my permit situation.

Somewhere in there, Alix & Valerie got published kind of magically and out of the blue. It reminded me that — Oh yeah, I’m a fiction writer.

I got back “into” TBSOL (more or less) while all of this was happening and eventually finished it in April of 2010 and then I put it aside because I knew it would need a lot of work and I needed to figure out just how much.

What’s “wrong” with v2 is simply that it’s disjointed. There’s 2004/5 me patched into spots of 2006/7/8 me and then a long stretch of 2009-2010 me and maybe no one else sees that, but I do. And besides all of that, it’s unnecessarily long. TBSOL v2 is the length 4 short novels/3 average-length novels/2 long ones.

What I intend with this final version is to present a book that’s cohesive. It’ll be the best that I’m capable of writing at this moment in time. Will you like it more I don’t know. Will it be better – I have no idea.

I think there will always be people who love v1 above all and others who love v2 above all and others who love them all equally and honestly I’m just grateful that people have stuck around me through all these rewrites and revisions and who continue to love the book and the characters no matter what I do with them. I feel really, really lucky. This book is really special to me for a lot of reasons. I doubt anything I write after this will impact my life as much as this book has — in all its forms.

I could not have written v2 had I not written v1 and I could not have written what I’m writing now had I not written the previous drafts. I’m not who I was in 2001, when I sat down in my grandparents’ house in Puerto Rico to type out the first words of v1. I am not who I was in 2003, when I lay on the floor of my apartment in New Jersey to type the final words. I’m definitely not who I was in 2004, when I began v2, or who I was in 2010, when I finished it. I could not write any of it the same way, and I wouldn’t want to. I love all the versions, flawed though they may be. I hope others do as well. As a writer, that’s all you can hope for.

Trivia time

The first time I ever mentioned TBSOL online was in my LiveJournal on June 13, 2001 and this is what I wrote:

Blah blah .. what to talk about. I didn’t write a damn thing today on TBSOL. Actually, I wrote a word. “Nevermind.” That was the extent of my literary efforts for the day. But I was busy playing with my new TV and VCR … it was a very exciting thing. I’m thirsty and I want to drink Pepsi. But do I really want an intake of caffeine at 3:00am? Probably not. But do I have an ounce of common sense in my body? Nope. Not a one.

And I still don’t.  Perhaps I’m not that different after all. :)