Wednesday, April 28, 2010

On crotch patches and dead novels

I made a difficult decision this morning.

It’s one that saddens me deeply.

Bidding farewell to a dear old friend is never easy, but we’d just reached a point where things couldn’t go on like this anymore.

I’m talking about my favorite pair of jeans. Red Engine, the low-rise Firebell style with boot-cut legs and a double-button closure.

It’s not that they don’t fit anymore. On the contrary, they fit like a glove.

Well, a glove with several substantial holes that leave me flashing my underwear at strangers.
Me and my poor, dead jeans.

I’ve had them professionally patched, but there are only so many patches a pair of jeans can handle before there’s not much denim left. Then you’re left waddling like a duck with chaffed inner thighs as you display inappropriate bits of flesh at the guy helping you try on summer sandals.

Feel free to supply your own theory about why it’s the crotch area that keeps blowing out.

As I’m retiring these jeans with the dignity they deserve, it got me thinking about old manuscripts.

Somewhere in the deep, dark recesses of my hard drive is the first novel I ever wrote. I haven’t looked at it for years, but I can tell you without fear of contradiction that it sucks.

A lot of authors will cannibalize old manuscripts, stripping out characters or scenes to use in other books with a better chance of seeing the light of day. It’s a smart thing to do.

I’ve written eight full manuscripts and six partials in the last eight years, and since my recent contract is for three books, you can do the math and figure I have a number of stories that may never see the light of day.

Some of them have terrific characters and clever bits of dialogue I wouldn’t mind borrowing for current stories.

But I just can’t.

There’s always that tiny voice in my brain saying, “what if?”

What if I become a runaway bestseller and someday look at that story with fresh eyes and the promise of a fat advance check? What if this book could be rehabbed into something new – something fresh and marketable and not suck-worthy?

So I can’t quite give up on those old books – can’t bring myself to strip out the good stuff and leave them for dead.

But I can ditch the jeans. I will retire them in a private ceremony attended only by close friends and family. There will be flowers and somber music, and maybe a team of hired mourners.

I will mention one bright spot in the whole thing. Guess what showed up in the mail yesterday? It’s the shirt I blogged about last week:
Jealous? To get your own, go here.


WendyCinNYC said...

That's the think about trunking a novel, you can always open the lid.

I have a pair of jeans I *just* threw away for the *exact* same reason! I took to wearing tunic-like shirts over them for a while, hiding the ever-expanding hole in the crotch (or, as my daughter calls it "front bottom.") After a while, they completely split.


Unknown said...

Ha! great analogy! I too have that first craptastic novel lurking in the shadows of my computer, just itching to break out. I keep telling myself that one of these days, I will pull that little bastard out and he will turn into gold right before my very eyes, but alas, he still sucks the big one! LOL

Candyland said...

LOVE the shirt, and yes,I'm wondering... how the hell do you keep getting crotch holes? I have one pair of jeans I've worn for about 10 years that have never gotten a crotch hole...And can I say crotch hole one more time (not sure where else I'd say it)

Penelope said...

You look fabulous in that shirt!!

I know what you mean about saying good-bye to your favorite pair of jeans. So sorry for your loss.

Jennifer X said...

I have a pair of shoes that still look good, but they are in a similar condition. I'm going to try to super glue the sole back on ONE more time, but I've been tripping on the loose end for awhile. They are so comfortable! I feel your pain about your jeans.

LR said...

Great post. I for one believe in the merits of those old "dead" novels.

They might not be perfect but they have a raw passion to them. Something virginal and untainted.

Anonymous said...

Love the shirt! Yes, I know exactly how you feel about the manuscript and the jeans. I have a pair of khakis in my closet...they're ripped to hell and back, but I just can't. Get. Rid. Of. Them. I can't wear them, but they were so, so comfortable...I guess I'll have to do the same with them as you did your jeans. You have my sympathies...It's a sad day when your pants need to be retired.


WendyCinNYC, someone actually suggested I could have the retired jeans made into a handbag or something. The retired novels, not so much.

Karla, I actually did go back through my first novel about four years ago and it wasn't as bad as I thought. Still not great, but certainly rehab-worthy if it ever comes to that.

Candyland, I will say that I got the jeans used at a thrift store, and the crotch holes were already starting to form. I can't be blamed entirely for them! I agree though, crotch hole is an excellent phrase.

Penelope, thanks for the compliments on the shirt and the condolences on the jeans. I feel like I should be getting sympathy cards or something

Jennifer X, I feel your pain. I end up having to retire shoes that get too smelly :)

LR, you're right, there's a certain innocence about those first novels (er, not exactly innocent, since mine had a fairly racy sex scene, but you get my drift). They're always written before you really start self-editing to the point of paralysis.

danicaavet, that's the thing, even when you reach the point that you can't wear them anymore, it's so hard to actually chuck them. It seems wrong somehow!

Thanks for reading, guys!

Delia Moran said...

My hubby has the exact same problem with crotch holes, although with him it's more pervasive. I have a ready supply of denim patches. I know the reason _he_ would give for his pants always giving way at the crotch, but I still contend it's the scratching.

@Jennifer X, try Shoo Goo. No, seriously, that's what it's called. Wonderful stuff.

Lovely shirt. I'll sing a dirge for your jeans.

Greg Gutierrez said...

those jeans still had lots of miles left in them. they were like new compared to mine.

greg gutierrez
zen and the art of surfing

Cynthia Reese said...

This reminds me of The Kiddo and how she loathes to part with anything. Last week I wanted to toss a ratty pair of leggings that were size 3. Keep in mind that she is a TALL size 8.

"No, Mommy,," she said, grabbing them and holding them close to her chest. "I can wear them for capris!"

And your so-called trunk novels have a good shot at that fat advance check -- trust me. I read 'em ALL. :-)

Lindsay said...

The shirt came! And to think, you only checked it's shipping status 746 times.

Patrick Alan said...

Are those fart holes?

Linda G. said...

The shirt is fabulous, dahling!

I will refrain from commenting on your crotch hole. *ahem*

And I will never throw away my drawer novel. NEVAH! Instead, I will hold it like the Sword of Damocles over Michelle's head. If she doesn't work her magic & sell my paranormal mystery, I will make her read the dreaded drawer novel. THAT ought to be great incentive for her. ;)


Delia, why do I suspect your husband's theory about his crotch holes is the same as my husband's?

Greg, they are lovely jeans, but I'm pretty sure I'm reaching the point where I could be arrested for wearing them.

Cynthia, thank you for the vote of confidence on the trunk novels. Maybe someday, eh?

Lindsay, isn't it a lovely shirt? I'm thinking of wearing it every day for the next few weeks.

Patrick, I believe you're right! I can always count on you to get to the bottom (pun intended) of things!

Linda G, I think I may have at least one drawer novel I'd probably never even show Michelle :)

Thanks for reading, guys!


K.A. Krantz said...

The crotch holes? Totally a result of the fake sex. Yep. Yep. Yep. Blaming it all on Pythy.

Unknown said...

My favorite pair of jeans is on its last, crotch seam, too. I've been on the hunt for the next favorite pair of jeans for a year, ever since the reality of impending retirement became unavoidable. I'll miss those pants...(*sigh*)

The tee looks great on you!

India Drummond said...

On the bright side, if your local recycling centre accepts clothing, you can donate them knowing that the denim will be used to create something else... sort of a nice thought!

Sean Ferrell said...

There was nothing wrong with those jeans. Nothing. Not a thing. Nothing. Nothing.


KAK, this is an intriguing theory! I may have to go buy some new jeans and test it out.

Nicole, don't you hate that when you can't find the identical jeans anywhere online? I've tried like crazy, and if anyone could find me a pair of Red Engine jeans, Firebell style, size 28, new or used, I would probably die with gratitude.

India, this is a good idea, I'll have to look into it. I usually just take old clothes to the thrift store, but I assumed no one would want these jeans because of all the holes. Hadn't considered denim recycling. Thanks!

Sean, would you like to wear them?