Salute to the Real James Garfield

Well, There Is Pain Here is launched and available for download. I’ll be working on some paperback editions in the near future, but the process of this novel is for all intents and purposes, concluded. I’ll be marketing it for a while of course. I even managed to be included in both an online summer reading list, and an author’s event at a local cafe. (More on those things as they get closer.) But fundamentally, the creation aspects of the book is over.

Every novel is obviously a different experience. But the process of writing this one was not only different, but in some ways unusual.

To begin with, I experienced a total freeze on working on the early drafts that last for months. Then I realized during early revisions that a major plot point was not going to work, necessitating a larger rewrite at that stage of the game than I am used to. Not to mention several other personal issues during the writing.

As a result, I’ve spent more time with my version of James Garfield, and his fellow characters in this novel, than I have with any of my novels, save the very first one. (Which took longer to write than the others.)

Is this a big deal in its own right? Not really. Not if that means a deep emotional catharsis of some kind. I’ve mentioned previously how the end of any novel, any long creative work has a certain awkwardness to it for a few days. There’s a difficult-to-describe sense of blandness when a novel is finished and out there for purchase for the first time. That blandness fades of course, especially when work on another project begins, but it remains a brief normal aspect of this writer’s experience.

Yet I can’t ignore the fact, all be it mostly innocuous, that I “worked” with these characters, in this setting longer than most of my books. The Overlap. James Garfield. Theodore. The Rogues. (Buy the book if you want to know!)

More than this, though my book is a fantasy, the Garfield character was very much influenced by the historical James Garfield. Maybe more than I originally thought would happen. This is perhaps the most unique component of this experience. Though my version is a total fantasy version, I have nonetheless spent more condensed time with the real James Garfield over the last almost two years than any other real person from history. So much so that part of me feels I owe him a degree of homage.

One way I hope to do so is to visit the man’s elaborate tomb in Cleveland, Ohio sometime this year. I’m already assembling a road trip crew to see if this can happen. But even if it does not, I’ll have a unique perspective on this fascinating real-life person because of all the time spent with my fantasy version of him;  I didn’t expect that.

Would it have been so had I not taken longer than normal to complete this novel than the others? To tell you the truth, I have no idea. But it did take me this long, I did spend this much time with it, and before I depart from the author side of this and immerse myself in marketing, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the effect, even if it doesn’t last long.


So, here’s not only to There Is Pain Here, but to the true James Abram Garfield: a man of humor and honor. A flawed but open-minded man. A scholar and loving husband and father. Orator, writer, man of faith and man of service. I hope his spirit, wherever it actually is, would not be displeased with my little adventure yarn.


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