Know When to Walk Away


Those of you who have been following my blog closely – and have you two met, by the way 😉 – have witnessed the birth and development of my third novel, entitled “Pushing the River.” Over the course of the past three years, the novel has endured several structural changes, a complete change of narrator and voice, and the completion of an early rough draft just weeks ago.

“Pushing the River” was inspired by the real-life event of a baby being born. During the fall of 2012, my house swelled from a population of 2 – if you count my dog – to an assemblage of seven people and four animals. Originally, the house itself intended to tell the story of the most astonishing four-month period in its 100-year history.

One time previously, I put this novel aside for a time; I paused, unsure how – or if – to proceed. Ultimately, I decided to change the narrator from the house’s boiler to a regular old third-person omniscient narrator. I heartily missed Merle the Boiler, and always wondered if he might return.

Alas, Merle will not be coming back.

It is with a kaleidoscope of ever-shifting mixed feelings that I have decided to put this novel to rest for good.  The current situation with this now three-and-a-half year old child renders it impossible to continue a work of fiction based on his entry into the world.

There is much good work, and good writing in the would-be book, and the deep, unparalleled satisfaction of having put into words some things I had set out to say. What more, after all, can any writer hope for?

“I was trying to feel some kind of good-bye. I mean I’ve left schools and places I didn’t even know I was leaving them. I hate that. I don’t care if it’s a sad good-bye or a bad good-bye, but when I leave a place I like to know I’m leaving it. If you don’t you feel even worse.”

J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye


What is that feeling when you’re driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? – it’s the too-huge world vaulting us, and it’s good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.”

–Jack Kerouac, On the Road


image by Pablo Picasso

6 Replies to “Know When to Walk Away”

  1. Sigh……Having been there, I understand the importance of the good bye at this point. However, I prefer to think that perhaps, in the future, when the real-life circumstances don’t so excessively dominate, that you will pull this out of a dusty drawer and –with or without Merle–conclude it within the fictional universe.

    Further, this is the time for something new, fresh and unrelated to divert your creative muscles from present circumstances.

    Keep writing, my friend.

  2. Its always inspiring to read about another persons life journey and creative process. I am inspired. P.s just finished writing my first draft (The very fast) of a fantasy novel and i cant wait for the day I’ll tell others am published and all.

  3. Barbara, Barbara … That’s a brave step. Has to be a good dollop of sadness mixed with the cleansing uplift of directly facing a reality ( this time an internal one) and saying “This is the end.”

    I’ve enjoyed seeing your novel (#3) turn and evolve and finally find a wall. From one of your reader’s view, it’s been a fine trip. Thanks for the ride.

    When we briefly met in a restaurant last month, I mentioned the possibility of looking at the non-fiction interludes you posted over the past few years – ones of your mother, spandex bathing suits, moving from a long-time home, relationship breakups, births & deaths,outings with children and grandchild, moving into a new home in the city, ….

    I’d be interested in seeing if these obsevational/reflective pieces of an “incurable romantic” have stand-alone potential as a group of essays. Check our “live lit Chicago” online to get a glimpse of the Chicago venues for reading short personal essays aloud to an audience. If you’re interested, I can elaborate on the places I’ve been (as a listener) in recent months and my own writing experiment in this writing/performing mode.

    Again, congrats and condolences on your “Pushing the River” decision.

    – Bill

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: