Saturday, June 07, 2008

I suck...

...well, not really. But I did have a useful pin popped into my balloon. That balloon being, of course, where I start to think I might be half decent at this whole novel writing thing.

Which is useful. The whole reason I sent the first four chapters of my book out to friends was that I had virtually no perspective at all on how I was doing. It's pretty easy to get wrapped up and think you're writing the next great piece of literature. Then you get the sister of a friend who has never been to Newfoundland rip the thing to pieces and call me retarded (in a nice way). And that's the pop you need to get you back down to reality. Writers always have healthy egos. That's fine and all, but you do need the writing to back it up. And right now, my writing needs more work before it matches up with the ego.

I was thinking that with a bit of spit and polish, the first four chapters could be ready to be sent off to a few Newfoundland publishers before heading off to Italy. The consensus is that would be a mistake. The first four chapters still need a lot of work. What needs to be fixed? A lot more description of the surroundings as people not familiar with Newfoundland will be easily confused. Individual characters need more distinctive voices. The grammar needs to be tightened up. I should be less choppy with my sentences and paragraphs, I'm using 10 words where two would do, to much passive voice....

And so on and so forth. Nearly everyone says it's a nice start and they'd like to read more. Oh, and that with another year or two of polishing I might have something good enough to submit.


This is the hardest bit of writing I've ever done. In some ways it's similar to what I went through in university when I realized I had to adapt my writing style depending on the circumstances. The education profs would get annoyed with a paper that was written in history department style. History profs would get annoyed with something written in journalism style. And Muse editors would just get annoyed with all writing in general.

Now I have to learn a new style of writing. I've been using journalism style and personal/confessional type of writing for years. Now I have to adapt my "voice" into something more closely resembling "novel style", if such a beast exists.

So what now? I can't look at those first four chapters again. I just can't. I've spent a lot of time looking at them the last month. So I'm just going to plow forward, taking the advice given to me and make changes as I go until I get to the end. Then I'll take another look at the first four chapters.

And then? Well, we'll see. I was just going to submit it to local publishers but among the nice comments were that there was certainly the potential there to submit it to big publishers.

Hopefully I'll be a published author before they put me in a home...

Last Five
1. Crossroads - Tracy Chapman*
2. The seer's tower - Sufjan Stevens
3. Cry - The Trews
4. Grapevine fires - Death Cab for Cutie
5. I was born without you - Tracy Bonham


Anonymous said...

I wouldn't sweat it too much Townie B, at least you're writing. You'll find the voice and it will all work out. Keep it up, and perhaps send it out to a few other people, more perspective is best in some ways.

Terri Lynn said...

Well at least you're taking the criticism well.... haha.
I did a Canadian lit course this past winter and we studied Michael Crummey's "The Wreckage" and Lisa Moore's "Alligator". Both give detailed descriptions to Newfoundland/St. John's surroundings, but in very different ways. If you haven't read those it might be an interesting perspective, taking a step back from your technique perhaps.

Megan said...

Only people who really care about you (or about writing in general) will criticise your writing. The others will tell you it's wonderful and let you fall on your face.

I think you must have great friends.

towniebastard said...

Apparently this must have come out sounding more desperate than I thought. I've also had a couple of friends call to reassure me that everything is fine and that the book looks good for this stage.

I'm in no danger of throwing myself off a roof, I swear. I was just having a moment of clarity...the realization that this is going to be a lot more work than I thought.

But I'm fine, I swear. One friend in particular kicked me in the head a few times, and now I'm fine.