I’ve written the first book of my trilogy, The West Queen, and at least one third of my way through the second, The Fallen Prince. I had intended to finish book two and get underway with book three before I even thought about reworking book one again. This is because I got book one to a point where I wasn’t reading it any more. It was all so in my head that I used the words only as a type of progress metre so I knew where I was up to. As a result I missed typos, homonyms and some passive voice. Other than grammatical errors, some of the feedback I got was that I needed to go over what was happening more often. A couple of my readers said they felt as if they kept missing things or that they had to go back and reread sections to know what was happening. I had intended to keep the edges a little blurry to give an epic feeling and to make things seem less certain but I didn’t intend to lose readers.
The Point I’m At
So the point I’m at now is that I’ve got a stronger handle on what is happening and what is going to happen than I did while writing book one. While I had a story planned out I hadn’t worked through all the plot points. Now I’ve outlined book two down to the chapter level and got book three down to at least the large events I’m feeling confident in being able to describe the full story. My writing has slowed down for various reasons, one of which is the imminent birth of my second child. I think it might be helpful to go over book one, patch the grammar, patch together Candia’s personal journey from carefree princess to Machiavellian plotter and more often go over what has happened and the implications. If I do that I could start looking at pitching to some agents.
What I’m hoping for
I’m hoping that in completing book one and getting it out to agents that I will either get accepted or at least get some feedback to make the writing more “real”. I’m hoping to be encouraged in my writing and to take that extra step from having written something to having tried to sell it. I’m sick of being a wannabe, I want to be a published author! Yeah, The Simpsons are good for pretty much any situation.
We’re always told the most powerful writing comes from experience. This, I suppose, is because we have a particular insight into the material. I hadn’t thought about it much, beyond what I’ve just said, until yesterday. Yesterday was my daughter’s first birthday party. We had about twenty friends over and numerous small children. They all enjoyed eating the food my wife and I slaved over all saturday. We could have bought all the food, but we enjoy cooking, so we did.
As if running a first birthday weren’t experience enough, on the saturday night, I discovered the hard way that the chicken was tainted. At about ten that night I went to bed feeling bloated and a bit sick. I figured it was just the beer I’d had combined with a long day and not enough sleep. At eleven thirty I yawned a yawn verging on the Technicolor. It went downhill from there. I’ll leave out the finer detail, but by the time I was at my in-laws farm waiting for the first guests to arrive I felt like death. I hadn’t slept all night, my guts roiled and churned and the mere thought of food made me swallow heavily. I spent much of the day in bed, rising occasionally to be sociable and to drink apple juice. The peculiar thing about this episode was that throughout it I was thinking of how I would describe it in writing. I was aware of my condition and was mentally taking notes about it. Before taking up writing I never did such things. I’ve found myself doing it with other experiences too. A delicious meal I had, a funny moment, the feeling of dread just as my little girl fell from the couch and others.
I wonder if it is something we should all do, regardless if we are writing or not? Since paying attention to my daily experiences I feel I’ve gained insight into myself and more fully appreciate things as they happen. When I was running my first marathon and my legs twitched with pain with each plodding foot fall I was secretly observing the sensation, documenting it even while I agonised through it. I think we should all pay attention to our experiences, even the bad ones. We don’t have time machines to allow us to go back so it is only memories that we have. The stronger those memories, the more rich a life we live don’t we?
Suffice to say I now have the “joy” of food poisoning to add to my experiences from which I can draw to add spice to my writing. Have you found yourself taking notes even as you are going through something great, or horrible?
Danica is a character I created for the novel Chaos Flux (on hiatus until The West Queen, The Returned Prince and The Fallen King are finished). She grew out of a series of questions and as a solution to a couple of problems that arose from The West Queen. I found I enjoyed writing the female characters in The West Queen so I decided I’d have a go at another one. She has a troubled past and continues to drink too much and occasionally indulge in whatever comes in pill form. She realises just how troubled her past was when she goes into a psychiatric hospital to gain a patient’s eye view on insanity and finds her old therapist as her first interviewee. The following has not undergone extensive revision.
When I’m not writing I’m a father of one, waiting for the second, an amateur carpenter, gardener, marathon runner, musician and computer game player. Naturally writing is not earning me the money to do any of these other things. For that I’m a technical architect / IT manager / programmer / sys admin / DBA. I wear a lot of hats because the company I work for is very small, consisting of only six people at present. How does this relate to writing? I’m glad you asked. Read on.
A week or so ago I sent out copies of my manuscript to get feedback. These beta readers have started coming back with comments and though I knew there would be problems, I still felt the blow to my ego. It is easy to assume you are either at the bottom of the pack, in which case you can struggle ever upward or to assume you are at the peak and nothing you do is wrong. But, as prepared as I tried to be, I found it hard to accept that I was somewhere in the middle. My writing is good enough to read but not so good as to outright impress. What do I do with this now?
If you were to ask most people, they would tell you that fantasy and science fiction has little or no place in literary novels. It may well be that it is a lot harder to convince someone that your fantasy novel is “literature” but that doesn’t mean you should avoid tackling the “human condition”; you may find it impossible to avoid it.
I claim to be writing three books; The West Queen, Danica Straughn: Chaos Flux and Unnamed Project. I thought I’d give a little progress update, because there is always progress.