Chalk another novel up, but this one about killed me

I finished my second novel tonight, though the term second is misleading. In many ways, this is my first novel — or my first legitimate one not counting those I began as a kid.

I started this novel back in either 2000 or 2001, just shortly after a novel I co-authored with a friend of mine was turned down in New York. That novel was something that my buddy and I foolishly thought shouldn’t be changed when a New York agent called asking us for changes.

Yeah, we were that young and stupid. Cocky, really. But we were convinced we’d soon be finished and how dare someone ask us to change a couple chapters and plot points.

Yet after we had no other takers on the co-authored novel, we were stuck. And feeling pretty stupid and suddenly exhausted.

I eventually picked myself up and started on yet another one, and that one is the novel I’m referring to in this post.

For more than ten years I’ve worked on this novel and I poured a ton of my soul into it. It’s a complex thriller that involves a former Marine Sniper and an arm of the CIA, who eventually goes after him for something they think he’s done.

I’m not going to say more about the plot for now, but I did want to say that this book took all I had in me to finish it. Between launching a business, surviving a divorce, and only barely avoiding bankruptcy, it’s been hard to fight with this novel. Plus, it’s complex.

One of the number one rules in writing is, “Finish what you start.” And as part of that, you’re never supposed to lay something to the side or delay in finishing it.

Doing so makes the task of completing it monumentally more difficult. You lose your enthusiasm. Doubts creep in.

Both of those things happened with this one, and I want to publicly say that my wife Danah deserves an immense amount of credit for encouraging me to finish it. Even the past couple months, just pages from the finish line and with thoughts of giving it up, she helped push me to the end.

I’ll never have another novel that proves this difficult. I’m certain of that. I’ve grown as a writer and learned a ton of tricks and principles that must be followed. This one was birthed the hard way, and it was quite a fight that I nearly lost.

But I’m certain it’s a great book and I can’t wait to get the cover done and complete some final editing.

Stan R. Mitchell

Oak Ridge, Tenn.

P.S. Please accept the greatest gift I can give.

P.P.S. Thanks to all who continue to make my novel Little Man, and the Dixon County War a huge success! It’s gone as high as No. 16 on the Amazon UK Paid List (see here and here), landing smack dab between a Louis L’Amour and Zane Grey book. Learn more about it here.

20 thoughts on “Chalk another novel up, but this one about killed me

          1. I bet if she posted on Craigslist, she’d get some responses.
            Colette’s husband used to lock her in her room until she’d written enough for him that day. He needed the money!
            I was sitting outside praying/meditating after my run just now, and I got the message, “Just make each chapter good.” I’d been worried about the overall story, the point of the book.


            1. That’s too funny about Colette’s husband.

              And you nailed what the secret is. Someone once asked Winston Churchill how he wrote three books while leading Britain in WWII and he answered, “Ten minutes here. Ten minutes there.” (And those three books weren’t average, they were instant classics.)

              One friend asked, “Man, how do you ever write a novel? I wouldn’t know where to start.”

              And as you learned with yours, the solution is to not let the entire thing overwhelm or intimidate you, because if you let it, it will. Instead, focus on a single scene or section, live in the moment, and enjoy it as you go. And voila, before long, you’re done!


  1. Damn Stan, way to go!!! You looked the beast in the eyes and told it who the real beast was. Keep us posted on your next steps.


    1. Thanks, man, though the situation was in doubt on this one more often than not. And frankly, I’m not real proud it took me ten years, but ten years or not, I finally wore it down.

      And I’ll definitely keep you up to date. And on that note, what’s the latest on yours?


      1. Ten months, ten years… bah. In the end, you got it done. If anything, the fact that you managed to see it through to the end after ten years is more impressive. Lesser people, including myself, would have probably filed it away for good.

        You’re definitely my inspiration for the week. I got off my ass and cranked out 750 words yesterday. Not a very impressive amount, I know, but more than I had done in the past few weeks. The day job has begun to ease up a bit and I’m feeling that writing spark again.


        1. I disagree. 750 words IS an impressive amount if you’re holding down a job and other responsibilities. I don’t beat that amount very often, which used to bother me, but now I’ve got two novels done and I see that averaging 250 to 500 a day will get you plenty of things in print.


  2. I just joined wordpress looking for writing tips to get me through the process of publication. I’m so glad that I found this. Thanks for sharing, and I wish you the best of luck with your book!


    1. Thanks, C. And it will be just a bit before I can start the next one. I have to type up some of the final pages of this one. I wrote them longhand in pen, so that’s my next step.

      I did come up with the new title (the working title “A Long Shot” was just too similar to many others and not quite the right fit by the end), and I brainstormed what I want the cover to look like.

      I want to completely finish getting this one up and for sale before jumping into my next one.

      Great thing is my next one is 3/4 of the way done. I was working on it before my Western and got hung up on a part of it. Didn’t have it in me to toss about 10,000 words to get back where I needed to, but after finishing the Western and now my first one from ten years ago, I’m ready for it!


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