Method to my madness

Today marks the 52nd weekly post of New South Essays, and it’s high time I let you in on a little secret: I started this blog a year ago to capture your attention, entice you to engage with my writing and whet your appetite for my book.

chapter 1

I'm five and a half years into my first book. Hopefully the others will take less time.

This journey began in 2006. Two years after completing an MBA, I was in need of a new intellectual pursuit, a challenge that provided a creative outlet. I needed a mental exercise that matched the physical exercise of my foolhardy marathon hobby. So I returned to my first love – writing.

My day job in public relations had progressed to the stage in which I spent more time managing budgets than crafting sentences. My need for written expression was going unmet. During our family vacation to Santa Rosa Beach in July 2006, I wrote a chapter a day on the novel I had been kicking around in my head for a few years.

For the next four years I got up early each Saturday and wrote a chapter. My only reader was Carla, who found the book captivating enough to anticipate the next week’s installment with her Saturday morning coffee. A loving but unhesitating editor, she offered instant feedback, telling me when a character was inconsistent, a plot line implausible or dialogue hollow.

By the time I finished the first draft, while on vacation in Santa Rosa Beach exactly four years later, I had generated 146,912 words in 76 chapters. Disjointed and choppy, amateurish and unwieldy, the as-yet-unnamed project was a long way from being finished. I put it aside for six months, dreading the hard work of paring it down to a more reasonable length and a more comprehensible story.

The Saturday after the 2011 blizzard had kept all of Atlanta homebound for a week, I met a friend’s dad for coffee. He is a published author, and I had arranged to talk with him ostensibly about what was involved in the publishing process. Sam gave me all that and more. I came away from our conversation with a renewed commitment to seeing the task through, and picked back up on the rewrite.

I’m now 54 chapters into the first rewrite, splitting my early morning writing time between editing and writing New South Essays. I’ve loved the weekly discipline of writing the blog, and your response and feedback has only encouraged me to continue. For an old newspaper hack like myself, a weekly column is a familiar medium and the consistency of it appeals to my regimented and disciplined side.

My free-spirited side is fed by working on the book. If I’m honest, I’d have to guess that I’m still a year or more away from having a polished manuscript to show prospective agents and publishers. An editor friend and former roommate has the first five chapters, working to help me improve it, one installment at a time.

Macon post card

Before you can leave Macon, you have to go there first.

What I’d describe as contemporary Southern fiction, the book is tentatively titled “Leaving Macon,” and it chronicles the life of a young junior leaguer who in one tumultuous year discovers her husband is unfaithful, her three-year-old is unruly, her acquired wealth is unfulfilling and her identity unsettled. Through a series of new relationships, including her son’s redneck Tae Kwon Do instructor and an African-American woman restaurateur, she uncovers her true self and finds courage to move forward with her dreams.

Thank you for coming along with me and giving me courage to move forward with my dreams. There’s plenty more to discover and report on in the New South, and I welcome your ideas and participation. Who knows where this will lead.

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About lanceelliottwallace

Lance Elliott Wallace lives and writes in the Atlanta suburb of Lilburn. A native of Texas and a former resident of Florida and Alabama, Lance married a Georgia girl and together they are rearing three Georgia boys. By day he communicates for Georgia Tech engineers and scientists. He spends his early morning hours praying, writing and running.
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16 Responses to Method to my madness

  1. Bob says:

    So it’s like King of the Hill meets Macon? As if Mike Judge’s characters were there instead of Garland, Texas …

  2. Joy Brown says:

    I want 4 copies…thanks!

  3. Kristen says:

    I enjoy your blog and look forward to reading your book someday, Lance!

  4. John Pierce says:

    I look forward to reading the book someday. Macon is a good setting for that story. I’ve not lived in any place before where, for so many, it is important to be considered important.

  5. Lance England (the other Lance) says:

    Keep up the good work, Lance. You make me work harder towards my goals!

  6. Fran Hibbert says:

    I eagerly await the publication of your book, Lance. Carry on young man!

  7. Scott Ford says:

    Looking forward to your book! Can’t wait!

  8. Meredith Shaw says:

    That’s exciting Lance! Your discipline of writing is an inspiration!

  9. Lance,
    So glad to hear that your path toward publishing your novel is alive and well. I can’t wait to read it. Would love to read even an early copy once you are ready to share :-). We are all proud of you!
    Lelia

  10. Don N. says:

    That’s awesome! Can’t wait to read your book — sign me up for 3 copies. I admire your diligence in editing. Like Mark Twain once said, “The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter – it’s the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” Best of luck!!

  11. Happy Blogiversary, Lance! You know I’m in line for a copy of your book! Love the new design too!

  12. Rachel Sherron says:

    Count me in!

  13. Heather says:

    So, I’m behind on my Google Reader feed and just caught up on your blog. Friend, please edit quickly. I’m very ready to read this book!

  14. Don D says:

    Clearly I missed this one when it was first posted. I’m glad I saw the mention on facebook! Can’t wait to get a copy of “Leaving Macon.” It sounds like a wonderful read!

  15. Pingback: Flip flops and running shoes | New South Essays

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