“You Can’t Get There from Here” (But You Can . . . with Some Delay)

It was one of those lazy, hazy midsummer days in the Northeast, when the humidity hangs thick and wet over the land.  I was driving through the back roads of central Vermont, looking for a particular house–an address tucked away on a dirt lane far from the beaten path.  These were the years before I had settled in this area and called it home.  I didn’t know my way around.

 

Sure enough, as I came to an unmarked intersection, I took a wrong turn.  I didn’t know it at first.  It took a couple of minutes.  But when I drove several more miles and didn’t have a clue where I was, I decided to stop in the gravel parking lot of a country store.  It was the only place I saw, aside from isolated farmhouses and old, weathered barns, that might offer the hope of someone providing directions to steer me back along the right route.

 

I parked in front of the store, a clapboarded single-story structure with white peeling paint and two ancient gas pumps out back.  They looked like something out of the 1950s.  I had no idea if they were operational, and had no intention of finding out.

 

The door was open, without a screen, and I walked in.  The interior was small and cramped, complete with wooden shelves, a pot-bellied stove in the corner, and thick bark-covered beams overhead.  Beside the unlit stove, four men sat at a round table.  Each eyed me suspiciously.

 

I approached the table.  The men, three of whom were seniors, and the fourth perhaps in his thirties, continued to eye me.  There were poker chips gathered in the middle of the table, and the men were holding playing cards in their hands.  Already uncomfortable at the intrusion, now I felt worse.  I was interrupting their game.

 

“Excuse me,” I said.  My voice sounded too loud in the close, warm space.  “Sorry to bother you, but I was wondering if you might be able to help me find an address.  I thought I had everything mapped out, but I guess I was wrong.”

The men just sat there, motionless, looking me over as if I were a specimen to be driven over to the town taxidermist.  One of them cleared his throat.  A second placed his cards, facedown, onto the table.  The other two just stared.

 

I gave it a few seconds, and when no one said a word, I took a step back and turned toward the door.  I guessed I’d go knock on a farmhouse door and hope for a more cordial response.

 

That was when someone finally spoke up.

“Where ya headin’?” the younger guy said.

I turned back around, told them the address.  This brought on another round of silence.

Then, the oldest-looking guy seated at the table, a gaunt fellow with wire-rimmed glasses, said, “Thing is–if you was a bird, it’d be easy to get where you’re wantin’ to go.  But if you have to take the roads–it’s a field.  Fact is, you can’t get there from here.”

 

One of the other men smirked.  Another one coughed.

I wasn’t sure what to say.  I realized I was the amusement for the day.  There was no reason to hang around.  I’d just have to go back the way I had come and re-map the journey.

 

But then the younger guy held up his hand, and proceeded to give me the directions I needed.  He used short, staccato phrases, offering only the barest of minimums.  But I thought I had it when he was through.

I thanked him for his help.

“Would be easier if you was a bird,” the older man said again.

When I walked back through the doorway, I was sure I could hear them laughing.

As I got behind the wheel of my car and pulled away, I wondered if they had given me the wrong directions–just to further the joke.  But they hadn’t.  Twenty minutes later, I found the place I was looking for.  The directions were accurate.

 

“Though roundabout,” I was told later by someone in the know.  “He led you out of your way.”

But at least I’d made it–delay or no delay.

************************************

And that also accurately sums up the writing and editing process I have undertaken on The Singularity Wheel–the sequel to The Eye-Dancers.  It was a surprise project from the get-go.  I hadn’t even envisioned there would be a sequel–but then, out of the ether, an idea struck that wouldn’t let up and wouldn’t let go, and I had to write it.

 

When I began the book, over four years ago (!), I had no way of knowing how winding, circuitous, and bumpy the road would be.  I first announced the sequel’s existence in a blog post in the spring of 2014.  “It’ll take another year to write, no sweat,” I thought at the time.  But then 2014 bled into 2015, which morphed into 2016–and still, the book wasn’t finished!  There were character crises, plot points that needed wholesale makeovers, and twists and turns in the story line that needed alterations.  It was, and has been, the most challenging writing project I have ever undertaken.

 

Even so, as 2017 dawned, I was almost finished!  And in April, the first draft was finally complete.  I was at last able to key in the words, “The End.”  I even posted about it at the time.  So okay–I would release The Singularity Wheel at the end of summer!  Piece of cake!

 

During the editing process, however, I found that more changes still needed to be made than I’d realized.  Time slipped past, summer came and went.  Then again, The Eye-Dancers was originally published in November 2012.  I liked the symmetry.  Why not release The Singularity Wheel in November 2017?  It would be perfect.  Five years of real time had passed–and, in the story itself, five years of fictional time had also passed from the conclusion of the first book to the start of the second.  Everything was coming full circle.

 

But now–here we are, in November, and just like my journey through the back roads of Vermont that summer day years ago, I have discovered that “as the bird flies” isn’t always the way a story will proceed.  I am right now in the final edit/proofreading/copy editing stage.  The endgame.  But even here, I have found a few last wrinkles that need to be ironed out, a few tweaks that need to be inserted, a last assortment of fixes that need to be made.  Grudgingly, I have come to realize that the November release is too ambitious.  The project has been “a field” as the old-timer at the country store said to me once.  A field, indeed.

 

That said, the eleventh-hour adjustments are minor in nature.  Ninety-nine percent of the work has been put in.  It’s just a matter of trying to finish strong and present the best possible product I can upon publication.  As much as I wanted to meet my own self-imposed November deadline, I didn’t want to rush it now, at the end, after such a long journey getting here.

The delay will be one month.  And this time, there won’t be any further postponements!  The Singularity Wheel will be released prior to January 1, 2018.  I don’t have a single, specific date in mind–but it will be in December.  This time, I promise.

 

In this season of Thanksgiving, I want to thank all of you who have read and still read this blog and who have supported The Eye-Dancers these past five years.

 

Writing a sequel has been a long, long process, often beset with speed bumps and deep, tire-puncturing potholes, but, to paraphrase my old country-store friend, I have, at long last, “gotten here from there.”

 

Thanks so much for reading!

–Mike

41 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Apple Pie & Napalm
    Nov 22, 2017 @ 21:49:52

    I’m intrigued, can’t wait to read it!

    Reply

  2. evelyneholingue
    Nov 22, 2017 @ 22:00:36

    Love your story that lead to the heart of your post about the delay of your publication. Directions can seem misleading in rural areas. I’ve been through similar situations. Also doubting about the provided directions. Which also happened to be accurate. Morality: trust the locals.
    As of your novel, I get you, believe me. Better another month than rushing.
    Best to you, Mike and Happy Thanksgiving too!

    Reply

    • The Eye-Dancers
      Nov 25, 2017 @ 02:50:05

      Thanks so much, Evelyne! Yes, I was really thinking at the time that the guy was deliberately giving me the wrong directions.:) I’m glad he didn’t! It’s hard to believe I’m almost really and truly done with The Singularity Wheel. I have been working on it for so long, it will feel almost strange not working on it anymore. But, I am not done yet . . . so, I need to focus on the task at hand.:) Always so nice hearing from you!

      Reply

  3. joannerambling
    Nov 22, 2017 @ 22:43:03

    What to say, what to say, I don’t know what to say, the story about getting directions made me think this is why some people don’t like to ask for directions. As for you novel better to take you time and be happy with the outcome then rush and not be completely happy

    Reply

  4. foodinbooks
    Nov 23, 2017 @ 01:02:08

    That’s so exciting for you and I’m glad. Yours is one of the blogs I always look forward to reading the most. You always make me think. Those characters in that town almost like something out of a movie don’t they? Good luck with a novel and I’ll be looking forward to reading it when it comes out. Be easier if you were a bird wouldn’t it? Haha!

    Reply

  5. Donna Gwinnell Lambo-Weidner
    Nov 23, 2017 @ 01:06:54

    More than once, while Charlton Heston’s character Michaelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel in the movie “The Agony and the Ecstasy”, the pope asked, “When will it be finished?” to which Michaelangelo answered, “When I’m done!” Glad to hear your ceiling is about to be unveiled, Mike 🙂

    Reply

  6. Trackback: “You Can’t Get There from Here” (But You Can . . . with Some Delay) — Eye-Dancers | Fantasy Sources: Art, Gifts, Ideas, Article Resources, News
  7. Mary J. McCoy-Dressel
    Nov 23, 2017 @ 15:32:23

    It sounded like you stepped back in time there, Mike. Happy Thanksgiving! Good luck with the upcoming book.

    Reply

  8. ellie894
    Nov 24, 2017 @ 01:19:40

    Wonderful story. Always better to finish stronger rather than faster. My best wishes for getting the story just where you want it to be 😊

    Reply

  9. ritaroberts
    Nov 24, 2017 @ 08:51:43

    Love this story of your long journey to publication Mike. I wish you all the very best. If your book is as brilliant as your blog posts you will surely have no problem.

    Reply

  10. Lyn
    Nov 24, 2017 @ 09:28:02

    Can’t believe it’s been five years since The Eye-Dancers came out. It seems just like yesterday. Looking forward to reading the finished version of The Singularity Wheel 😀

    Reply

  11. Trackback: The Weekly Headlines – My Daily Musing
  12. Trackback: The Weekly Headlines-Posted on November 25, 2017 by lafayetteangel – Br Andrew's Muses
  13. Lara/Trace
    Nov 27, 2017 @ 18:26:01

    Ah Mike, I love your writing!

    Reply

  14. Karina Pinella
    Nov 28, 2017 @ 02:53:45

    At least you’re almost there! What a milestone. You’re probably on to the next story line.

    Reply

  15. penneyvanderbilt
    Nov 29, 2017 @ 15:54:19

    Reblogged this on Crazy Pasta Child.

    Reply

  16. A. Guanlao
    Dec 04, 2017 @ 21:40:35

    Thank you for liking several of my recent posts. It is not easy to get lost on a literal journey or a literary one! 😀 I admire your patience as you go through the process of writing and editing the sequel to The Eye-Dancers. Delays can be frustrating, but sometimes you cannot avoid them. Good luck with the plans for a December release. I hope you enjoyed Thanksgiving, and I hope you will have Happy Holidays! 🙂

    Reply

  17. Ste J
    Dec 08, 2017 @ 13:22:30

    Yo will get there and I look forward to reading it. I owe you a review still of your The Eye-Dancers still. Time has gotten away from me but it seems like I really should sync it up with your new release, or at least in time for Christmas. I like to think it’s worked out well!

    Reply

    • The Eye-Dancers
      Dec 09, 2017 @ 01:58:39

      Thanks! And yes, I think it has worked out well.:) I hope you are enjoying your holiday season so far! Thanks so much for your ongoing support all these years! Hard to believe The Eye-Dancers blog has been around for five years now already. Time does indeed fly . . .

      Reply

      • Ste J
        Dec 09, 2017 @ 10:35:49

        It’s always a pleasure to read your words, I love the feeling of nostalgia that emenates from your writings. The holiday season is going well at the moment but I really need to get started on the shopping! I look forward to another five years of blogging with you!

      • The Eye-Dancers
        Dec 14, 2017 @ 17:51:54

        I second that!:) Looking forward to blogging with you as well for the next five years, and beyond . . .!

  18. Imelda
    Dec 09, 2017 @ 05:18:45

    Congratulations! 🙂

    Reply

  19. Steph McCoy
    Dec 25, 2017 @ 16:22:45

    I know I’ve must have said it before, I love your storytelling style and I’m really looking forward to the publication of your sequel.

    Reply

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