Day 15: The Strange Ways That Things Come About (A Cautionary Tale)

This is the story of my novel, Rapture, and the not exactly linear way that it all began.  Back in early 2008, I stumbled across a group of creatives on, OMG, MySpace.  1 of them was Tony, a writer and illustrator, whose work closely paralleled mine at the time.  He invited me to participate in an online role-playing game that had been active for years where the characters were humans, vampires, werewolves, witches and other assorted beings and all of the characters had very elaborate and rich backstories.  The way that the game worked was that 1 person would post within the storyline, advancing the story, and then someone else would do the same.  So the story could go off in strange and wonderful directions with no warning.  Well, for some reason or another, there were people that took a dislike to me and tried every way they could think of to kill off my characters, thus pushing me out of the game.  Well, I had a vampire, Zoey, and a witch, Bella, that did not take kindly to that.  Nor did Tony’s characters.  We planned to pretty much blow the place up with a scene unlike any they’d experienced before.  Well, there was a lot of collateral damage.  We decimated the place and it pretty much shut the game down.  Anyway, about that time, Tony told me that I should write a novel using my characters…so that’s what I did.  He also told me about deviantArt where I could post excerpts.  So I did that too.  My intent at the time was for Rapture to be a hybridized graphic novel and that was the way that I approached it.  It was probably July or August of 2008 when the publisher emailed and invited me to dinner to discuss an option for my book.  We met and agreed to the terms and I received the contract a few days later along with a check.  I was on my way!  About that time, my mom’s Alzheimer’s began to get much worse after the hospital that she’d been in for other reasons almost killed her…twice.  So, I was helping to care for her, working full-time, and trying to write my book.  The publisher decided that the 3 of us should go to New Orleans for Halloween to check out a costumed gala to see if it was the right venue for releasing the book the following year.  It definitely wasn’t but we had a blast because Halloween in NOLA is almost as good as Mardi Gras.  I love NOLA…I’d even gotten married there 13 years earlier after my husband and I had taken several trips there and I fell head over heels in love with the place.  Shortly after we’d all returned to our respective homes, it was decided by Tony who was set to illustrate the book and the publisher that it needed to be a straight novel because illustrations would detract from my descriptive writing style.  Then the publisher became partners in a production company that produced web series and direct to DVD horror movies and they were in talks to partner with a larger production company.  So the publisher pitched my book to them and they wanted to do a web series based on my book.  Cool, huh?  No, it wasn’t cool.  The catch was that they wanted me to write the scripts…25 of them at 40 minutes a piece.  Ok, I’m game for it…until I realized I was NOT a screenwriter.  I took classes, watched videos, read books, spoke with people, etc…, and I could not do it.  But I kept trying.  Working full-time, helping to care for my mom, writing my novel and trying to write screenplays.  I finally told him that I could not do it.  Hire someone, whatever, I didn’t care.  He was not happy and, at the point, I couldn’t have cared less.  I felt a bit like a marionette with everyone trying to control me.  So, I decided to get out my scissors and cut the freakin’ strings!  After a few discussions where I pointed out that I had signed a contract to write a graphic novel which had morphed into a straight up novel which had morphed into screenplays while I was still expected to finish my novel.  I told him that I honestly did not want to be associated with him any longer since the main focus for him at that point was screenplays.  We finally came to an agreement where I got to keep the option money and we’d just walk away.  By that time, caring for mom was taking up more of my time, as was work.  I put Rapture aside but planned to get back to it when things were a little less crazy.  And guess what, folks, I never got back to it.  I’d open it up, do a little editing, add a scene that I wasn’t particularly happy with and close it again.  Then my dad’s Alzheimer’s started to rapidly progress and work was still insane so Rapture lay dormant.  Until now.  I am currently trying to figure out where the story went off of the rails and then chopping that part out of my book.  Well, not chopping it completely out because there are some good scenes, so I guess I’ll be excising them.  I think that once I get back to the point where I’m happy with where the book is, I’ll be able to finish it in a relatively short time.  (Fingers crossed!)  So, the moral of this story, boys and girls, is, don’t put your book down for any reason and don’t let anyone try to direct the path that you and your writing are on.  Hold steady!                                         

“Never give up for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” ~ Harriet Beecher Stowe


About Donna Heilman

I am a writer that lives in the Dallas-Ft. Worth Metroplex with my husband, 2 dogs, and 10 cats. I am currently working on my novel, Rapture, as well as writing poetry and some short non-fiction. I am honestly writing this blog to feel more connected with other creative people.
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2 Responses to Day 15: The Strange Ways That Things Come About (A Cautionary Tale)

  1. I hope with all my heart you get to finish your book on your terms. You deserve to reach the finish line.

    Liked by 1 person

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