How I saved my second novel from disaster


A long time ago I wrote a novel that I named Saving Iris. I had no clue what I was doing but I wrote it anyway. It was really bad. I’m pretty sure there was a plot and maybe a likable character or two but that wasn’t my only problem. 

I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was missing.

I forgot about it for a long time until one day I shared it with a writer’s group. Thankfully the opening was strong enough to receive an invite. Sadly, as you now know, the rest of it not so much.



I saw it as practice. A lesson of things to come, so to say. This practice novel taught me work ethic, how to handle criticism and what to do when you can’t shake a certain feeling.

Saving Iris soon became lost in my hard drive. She would sit, patiently waiting as rubble upon rubble of other nonsense do’s and don’t piled over her.

One day I removed her from the pile of rubble and decided to give her another go. The result was a sharper version of the original. A better story, I thought, a tad clever, I guessed. 

In other words, something the reader could really sink their teeth into.


Same as it ever was

But the feeling stayed. Something was missing. A piece of the puzzle that didn’t belong. Or worse, a piece that was lost. 

What are you trying to tell me, Iris. I’d ask. I’m listening. I’ve got all day. Don’t be shy.

On the plane ride home from London something happened. For reasons I haven’t exactly figured out I had one of those ‘Of course’ moments.

Maybe I was zoning, or watching a movie or I was really excited because it’s snack time. Long plane rides really mess with your heads. Whatever it was that missing piece was placed where it belonged and I couldn’t get home quick enough to write it .


Iris and the missing piece

Funny how it works, isn’t it. An old practice novel lost and forgotten, now I’m 20,000 words in with my goal to finish draft one by the end of October.

I’m not sure I’ll make that goal but the confidence of writing a story a reader will like is there. It’s the same confidence I had when I wrote Dempsey’s Grill. And, just like Dempsey, Iris is starting to take over.

She’s literally taking the pen out of my hand.

Sometimes the stories we write have their own time table and it’s up to us to listen. With Saving Iris I’m glad I did. Now if you’ll excuse me, she’s telling me to get back to work.  

Little girl Iris



25 thoughts on “How I saved my second novel from disaster

  1. I think the hardest thing about being a writer is trusting your instincts. There are so many opinions about how something has to be done and especially what should never be done when you’re writing a book. At some point it’s great when you know what to listen to and what to ignore outright. Happy writing!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Well said. I could have stayed with the original idea. Happy I wrote a full length novel and moved on from there but that would have been a disservice to the story. I could not have forgiven myself.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you Bryan, this post is more than inspiring as I’m going through a stint of writers block. And I’m feeling how you felt about Iris, about my book. This brings me some hope. I’m glad you rediscovered Iris, and much luck on your goal of finishing by the end of Oct.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Take a step back or do what I did and put it away for a little while. Your mind will always have a connection to the characters and the story line. Relax, carry on with your life and while you’re doing so don’t be surprised if the story or the characters figure it out. I wouldn’t be surprised if it does.

      Liked by 1 person

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