My novel, ‘Not Enough Time’, a romantic suspense, was de-inspired as I say by the movie ‘Proof of Life’. ‘Proof of Life’ starred Russell Crowe as a former Special Forces soldier turned hostage negotiator who tries to negotiate the release of the husband played by Meg Ryan’s character. Now in real-life, hostage negotiations can take months, if not years. Also, in the movie Crowe and Ryan’s characters don’t get together but there’s an attraction there (in the novelization I read their characters did have a one-night stand but I don’t know if that scene was filmed or not).
I watched the movie with my mother when it came out on home video in 2001 and after the movie was over, my mother asked me what I thought of it. I said to her it wasn’t that bad but it could have been better. I said the story could have been much tighter and more emotionally engaging if Meg Ryan’s character had been the sister of the guy Crowe’s character was trying to rescue instead of his wife. Also, I thought if the kidnappers had a reason for kidnapping other than ransom then a rescue plot could worked so much better.
My mother’s first reaction was: “God I hate watching movies with you sometimes.” Then she said right after that, “But your ideas are so much better.”
I looked up in complete and total shock because I’d never, ever told her any story ideas I had or de-constructed a movie plot like I did and turned it into a story idea. If you read the origin story I did on my writing book, you’ll get a piece of that story. But because of her support and my strong reaction to this movie, an idea was born. The next day I hammered out what would become the first scene in the first attempt at writing this as a novel.
I’ve written several complete drafts of this book and I got two of them rejected outright by two different publishers. It’s gone through at least three title changes that I can remember and my hero Jake went through a name change. But the basic plot elements have remained the same.
Why haven’t I given up on this?
One, every time I’ve told people about this story they’ve reacted well. The rejections were because I didn’t have the skills to develop it like I needed to. I’ve gotten people hooked on the premise and I’ve just been working on the execution ever since.
Two, this story won’t let go of me. I’ve spent a lot of time away from it over the years but sooner or later, I come back to it. Usually it was because I had a new idea for the story and wanted to give it a go.
So if anyone asks me when to give up on a story I will not answer that question. Because if I haven’t given up on this damn story in close to twenty years, then I won’t tell anyone to give up on theirs. What I will say is if you have to, feel free to step back from it and let it simmer on its own for a while. I’ve written a lot of other stuff since then, including a few more novels that haven’t seen the light of day.
At present, I’m four chapters into this with the goal of having a working draft by the end of the year though if I maintain my current pace I could have something finished by Halloween or sooner maybe. I believe I’ve got what it takes to make this damn story work once and for all. And that is because I’ve done the emotional work on myself and in turn, on my characters. Also, I remember what I said all those years ago about keeping the plot tight.
But here’s some tidbits about a few things with this book:
My hero, Jake, got his name from a cat I had. I forgot what Jake’s original name was now but it just wasn’t working for me so one day I looked up from the computer and saw my beloved floof-ball of a cat looking at me. Then I turned back to my computer and made the name change and it’s stuck ever since.
My heroine, Laura, has kept her name and profession but her inner emotional struggles do mirror mine. I won’t say in exactly what ways but I started using her first to work through my emotional baggage long before I started my therapy book ‘Breaking Radio Silence’. The title, ‘Not Enough Time’, came from a song by the Australian band INXS. I was listening to their ‘Greatest Hits’ cd while washing dishes one night and as I listened to the song’s lyrics, I thought it was a perfect fit for the story. Now the title has worked its way into the story itself.