As some of you know, I wrote a novel back in the 90s. It started out as a look at the inconsistencies of the white south and morphed into a tale about the fabulous young slave girl who grew up to run a successful farm of her own. I incorporated everything I knew or thought I knew about the subject, including: Slaves, Race, Murder, Revenge, George Wallace, Martin Luther King, Jr. I threw in Wild Dogs.
The story is set at Jasmine Hills in Wetumpka, Alabama. After a hundred or so rejections, I sat down and rewrote it thoroughly and went through another round of about 100 rejections. Even though I am pretty sure I wrote a reasonably interesting page turner, I realized even if I ever got the book to a publisher, I had another foundational issue. As a white male, my story would suffer as long as it focused on the strong African American woman. There was a time when it would have been considered perfectly normal, but today, there are plenty of black authors and plenty of black female authors who can and do tell that story with more authenticity and legitimacy.
It occurred to me, literally yesterday, that I could rewrite the novel one more time, in the first person of one of the white guys. I plan to do just that. I also thought it would be fun to serialize it here on my blog. I am not sure I will ever figure out how to make a dollar off of my work, but I am pretty sure if I publish it here first, nobody will ever pay me to put it in book form.
A century or two ago, famous writers serialized their work, got paid for it then and then got it published in book form and got paid for that, but times have changed. Any thoughts on my chances, either way? Could it be I am not competent to write a successful novel? who knows. I know a lot of crap gets published and some crap is even wildly successful. I believe I am a better writer than those books” authors. but maybe I am not better in the one key thing that makes a successful writer succeed?
The novel was alternatively called: Confederate Dogs, Bubba’s Dogs, May’s Hill, and Samson Returns.
I am still looking for a title that will best work for the new version. I might keep Samson Returns. I might not. Feel free to give me lots of advice, knowing I will feel free to either take it or ignore it!
Anyway, my new opening lines are:
“I killed the dogs. All of them. And maybe that’s the second worst thing I ever did.”
My first version started like this:
The Dogs 1958
The wild dogs large brown eyes and even larger furry ears gave them a look of something crossed between a little cotton tail bunny and child’s stuffed teddy bear. Only the occasional licking of their lips, exposed the canine fangs, so well suited for the death and destruction of prey. Otherwise, they looked almost harmless Toby was tempted to reach through the grill and stroke one with his finger. Maybe they would bite it off, maybe not. Sometimes he felt the same urge with small tigers. Toby still had ten fingers, he resisted the urge. As the plane cleared the coast of Cuba, the dogs began soft moans. Toby checked his gauges one more time, then turned to look at the dogs.
As Bo grew to be an old man, he took great joy in hunting and fishing with his young grandson. The boy had been named Samson at Bo’s near insistence. When Samson was twelve years old, the old man gave him a Buck hunting knife and a Remington twenty-gauge shotgun for Christmas.