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Breathing New Life into an Old Work

The day after Christmas, I was driving home from Salisbury Beach (normally, I visit the ocean on Christmas Day, but Mother Nature didn’t cooperate this year).

In the car, One Love by U2 came on the radio (yep, I still listen to the radio). It’s a classic, right? I just looked it up — it was released in 1991, which is the same year I graduated high school.

But the song…this version featured U2 and Mary J. Blige, and holy shit, WOW was it different in a really incredible way. Now, I have nothing against the original. As I said, it’s a classic. It’s U2. What’s not to like?

The re-imagined work, however — it’s special. (And yes, I realize I’m late to the party; they did the song together back in 2005, apparently.)

My experience with this song has stayed with me these last few dwindling December days. The readers who follow my blog know I’ve been working on a novel for the last 5.5 years. The novel has gone through A LOT. We’re talking top-to-bottom revisions (several), endless pitches to agents, countless submissions to traditional publishers, and two more rewrites once it became clear we weren’t going to get any takers. This past fall, I embarked on one final attempt at salvaging the damned thing.

So what’s the song got to do with my book? Well, as I was driving along the day after XMas, mesmerized by Bono and Blige, I realized what I’m attempting to do is exactly what they did to that song: breathe new life into an old work in a wholly original, emotional, and unexpected way.

I have no idea if I’ll make it. But at least I know what I need to do, what I’m striving for. And that’s something.

If you’re curious and haven’t heard this version, here you go. (If you’re reading this via email subscription, click through to watch the YouTube video.)