I retrieved the manuscript after it had lain dormant for over a year and started over at page one, revising and re-writing. My female main character, Lydia, has undergone some radical changes from how I had written her in the first draft, which has necessitated changes throughout the story. The plot also needed a lot more conflict to make it interesting, and these changes to Lydia help provide that. I’m hoping to finish this draft in October so that I can start on a new project for 2015’s National Novel Writing Month. I’ll pick up Life Models again in December for a third draft and a polish and hopefully have it ready to submit by February.
In the meantime, I’ve got a short story or two that I plan on submitting to magazines and literary journals. To prepare for this, I bought the newly released 2016 Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market. In one of the articles about outlining in the early part of that book, a novel called Life Drawing by Robin Black was referenced. I was immediately intrigued since the first title for my novel was Life Drawing (I changed it to Life Models in December of 2013). In fact, I was so intrigued that I ordered a copy from Amazon and read it in about two days this past week.
I will say that Robin Black’s Life Drawing is not the type of novel I normally read, but there are similarities to Life Models. Both are told in first person and both involve (sort of) recently widowed spouses. Infertility also plays a part in both stories. When I received Life Drawing in the mail, I was surprised to find a full nine pages of quotes from reviews, which made it seem to me like the publisher was trying too hard to sell the book.
Ms. Black’s novel deals with an artist who is married to a writer. The writer’s death is alluded to in the opening pages, but the rest of the novel deals with the two of them trying to maintain their marriage after a previous infidelity. It is the type of family drama that I normally don’t enjoy, and I didn’t think I would like Life Drawing until late in the story, when the couple takes a trip to Cape Cod. It was their exchange on the drive there that really sucked me into the story (finally). When the writer’s death does come, it is shocking and jarring and would have been far too much if it hadn’t been alluded to in those first pages. The story is, ultimately, a tragedy, but it is one that I did enjoy. I’m glad the title prompted me to buy it, although there were no scenes in an actual life drawing class, nor were there any references to drawing the nude (in spite of the woman in what appears to be a robe on the cover).
I did notice that one of the review quotes in the opening pages of Life Drawing was from author Alice Sebold, the author of The Lovely Bones. In 2007 Ms. Sebold did write and publish a novel called The Almost Moon which features an artist’s model as the central character. I read it a number of years ago and had mixed feelings about it. I do recommend it, however.