September Theme: Begin Again by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich

Last week, I pulled out the workings of a novel that I'd started on years ago, as in about 14 years ago. I found the very first draft of the very first chapter, with characters I didn't remember, and a setting that had seemed ideal that day I'd been sitting in the Hungarian Pastry shop, trying to feel cosmopolitan despite Linzer torte powdered sugar falling down the front of my shirt.

Then I dug around a little more and found the later drafts, heavy packets of paper that made me feel guilty (so much paper!) but also went about 200 pages into a story that still tugged at my soul. I found all of the clippings that I'd saved during research: newspaper articles about seals that had wandered into New York City waters, musings on what would actually happen if one fell into a black hole (nothing good), Yoruba folktales, analyses of C.S. Lewis and fairy tales, my photographs from a tour of a secret subway tunnel in the heart of downtown Brooklyn, and more from a sort-of secret swimming pool in the bowels of Columbia University -- one of the oldest indoor pools in the country, featuring a bronze lion's head that once worked as a fountain, spouting water onto the swimmers below. And chapters upon chapters reuniting me with a beloved, difficult, wonderful protagonist and her adventures above and below ground.

I had put it all away a long time ago, having gotten to that point where I could see neither the forest or the trees and needed to step away, for a long while, so that I didn't give up. Because I couldn't give it up. I was stuck, frustrated sick with that on-the-tip-of-my-tongue feeling of a book that dangled just out of reach. But I couldn't let go of it for good, but I had to let go for a while...before it got really, really bad.

Last week, I looked through those dusty, overstuffed accordion files and they breathed -- still living with the magic of story.

It's time to start again.


  1. YAY!!! I LOVE this post. I'm about to tweak and release a book I wrote 10 years ago. There's never a dead-end for a book. Never.

  2. It must be catching...I am currently working on a decade old novel as well. Sifting through to find the "gems" under the dust gets the writing spark going again. Good luck Gbemi!

  3. Yay! Holly and Darlene, we can be in this together! :D

  4. They really do have a life of their own. Can't wait to see what you do with it.

  5. I'm feeling a little cheated because I went to Columbia and never saw that pool.


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