I fucking hate the term “trunk novel”. I hate what it implies and how writers use it as an excuse for giving up.
I’ve had a few trunk novels.
And then I didn’t.
I’ve been pretty open about my writing career since I started being serious about this 6/7 years ago. I’ve talked about my path and how semi-meteoric it almost was.
And then it wasn’t.
Throughout the time I spent working on craft, I wrote a novel that could be classified as a trunk novel. It just didn’t gel. It was awkward and overwritten. It wasn’t so much my skill level was absent, but my brain was simply not wired for the story I was trying to tell. So, I gave up on the story.
This would clearly drive me crazy. I would land my first agent with another manuscript that inherited some of the spirit of that first novel. I’d write three more books after and lose my agent. I’d publish HELL CHOSE ME and then find myself rejected by nearly 200 agents on the other two projects. All the while, my ego was fucking beaten to hell, my mind still wandered over to that goddamn trunk novel. That damn failure of a book – the lost cause, so to speak.
I couldn’t stop thinking about so much, that I wrote it all over again. Then I wrote it from the ground up two more fucking times.
That book landed me my agent this month.
The trunk novel isn’t a lost cause. It’s more than that. It’s an opportunity to see where you are within your skill set. It’s a place to find out if you are ready for the next step. Sometimes, you’re not and guess what? That’s fine! But I don’t believe in the idea that the trunk has to remain locked up. The story is merely hibernating. Shedding the fat over the winter to emerge lean and fucking mean.
It took me a while to finally be ready for that book and let me tell you, the floodgates opened. I was very fortunate to get a response from this book. Really good responses too. But only one person seemed too get it. Which leads to my decision to go with my agent. They got the damn book. I can’t tell you how validating that feels. Utterly amazing, man. And that was the trunk novel, the “failure” novel!
What I’m saying here is none of your hard work is in vain. The effort you put into your writing and the stories you want to craft is all worth it and will lead to good things in the end. What counts is whether you’re prepared to fucking bleed for it because sometimes, you really need to carve down to the bone.
One response to “The Trunk Novel”
Good point. I’ve gone back to pieces I abandoned years ago. Some i resurrected and some I cannibalized for other works. Nothing is ever thrown away.