The novel that now stands as Nearly Canaan is a much, much different book than its original draft.
The landscape itself is no longer a primary character, for one thing – a Garden of Eden for an Adam and Eve. It still provides a vivid background, all the same.
Changing the protagonist into a slightly older, career-driven woman and the suitor a younger man also greatly shifted the dynamic.
The narrative was still an epic, rambling investigation that eventually spanned across three volumes – Promise, Peel (as in Apple), and St. Helens in the Mix – but the momentum and message got lost along the way.
I needed to look at it the way Michelangelo looked at a big rock. And then start chisling to release the angel.
A clearer understanding of Jaya’s work in nonprofits – and of Schuwa himself – helped me cut the text by half or more, driving it along a stronger plot line.
Unlike rock, fortunately, it’s not just a matter of cut-cut-cut with no additions possible.
So the renamed Joshua – or Schuwa, as she fondly calls him – becomes equally central to the story. In fact, in the two middle sections, he’s now the principal figure.
As I’ve asked, in liberating him from his strict upbringing, has Jaya created a monster?
That alone adds more balance to the tale, countered by the rising pressures in her own stellar career.
Even though what was left was still a big book, I felt an additional touch was needed.
That’s when I returned to an earlier desire for a novel based on Wendy, Pastor Bob’s wife back in Prairie Depot. The distilled essence of that now became a fitting coda for the opus.
By the way, I still think Wendy’s an angel – of the living, breathing sort. No wonder she and Jaya so quickly bonded.