Character Study, Mitford, Otto, Dog-Gone
by Mary and Bruce Cook
42 years! That’s how long I spent writing my novel “Harmony of Nations.” My second novel has been in the works since 2012 – that’s 21 years!
I started two novels while stationed on the coast in Italy in 1970. On return to the US, I completed one and managed to convince a literary agent to review it. Like most writers, I was fully prepared for instant success.
His response – no novel could be that short.
This felt like a blow to the chest. It was 1974 and I was mired in doctoral studies. Upset, I set the project aside, desperate but planning to merge the two novels together to make one with the required length.
I carefully placed the novels in a half-inch thick box that originally held Eaton's Corrasable Bond erasable typing paper. (In those days a manuscript was typed, retyped, and retyped repeatedly.)
My project was set aside until, in several years, I made it a point to store my manuscripts in one area. Sadly, I could not find those two novels. They were the only manuscripts I couldn’t find.
Later (1999), when moving to North Carolina. I sorted through my collection of special copy printing papers, throwing some away and placing others into a box for the move I came across that old Easton Corrasable Bond box. I balanced it, wondering why in the world I would ever need a box of erasable typing paper. Technology had moved ahead and, by then, all you needed was a ream of printer paper. I almost threw the Eaton box away.
Thankfully, my curiosity got the best of me, It occurred to me – why not take a look to find out whether this expensive paper had turned yellow over the years. With that in mind, I cracked the half-inch box open and pulled out one of the sheets. Voila! It was a title page of my novel from Italy!
Thrilled and challenged, I plunged back into those novels. I was fortunate to contact an acquisitions editor in Germany and persuaded her to wait for my Italian gem.
Finally, in 2010, I reached my final chapters. Amazed, I found myself intimidated by the thought of completion. It seemed impossible to tie all the story threads together, for the novel itself covered a 78-year time span!
It was a classic writing block. Alas, I would never finish!
Then came two nights with vivid dreams. In those dreams I saw the final sequences playing out. Overwhelmed and full of elation, I wrote the last chapters. It just flowed from the memory of those dreams. Naturally, I still think the conclusion was brilliant!
After a period of tough editing and criticism by my friend Kenneth Mulholland, I revised the work and sent it off. In 2012 my novel, Harmony of Nations: 1943 – 2020, was published in Germany.
You can see the finished work (republished with no beard) at https://www.amazon.com/Harmony-Nations-Bruce-L-Cook/dp/1387013114
So, fellow writers, take heart. You have a lifetime to complete your story. Please get started (again) today!
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--Bruce Cook, Publisher
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Publishing New Writers,
December, 2022 (vol. 23, no.12)
Dr. Bruce L. Cook
1407 Getzelman Drive
Elgin, IL 60123
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