Before I’d gotten very deep (well, the deepest part of the shallow end of the scribbling pool), I’d decided I wanted a multiple point-of-view perspective from the three central characters: one first person, and two in close third person. That felt like the best way to tell the tale, and had a writing challenge in it for me. Thus, I perspectivized thusly. Doing the math: I added up the characters, setting, murky-but-sketched-out story arc, two substantive subplots and the opportunity to write. The sum of the figures: Zero, because I kept pausing in the work. Long pauses.
For a couple of years, I fiddled with correcting the first six or seven chapters, outlined some more, thought about it and then not, and called that all writing. (And when I’ve had enough bourbon, I call a rosebush a horse too.) After about two and half years, because I am slow on the uptake, I shamed myself into writing a mere half-hour a day, on weekdays, and was able to finish the damn thing in a few months. I’d read several bushels of novels (even self-pubbed an earlier one) and I thought this resembled one. Four beta readers agreed, and after revising from their considered comments, I sent it out to agents. This is a good way to get some yard work done.
A Chorus of Nos
There are a lot of ways to say “no”: many are gracious, some blunt, some are merely the answer of no answer at all. Even the maybes (a fair number of partials, a few full manuscript requests) ended with the shade drawn slowly down. Notwithstanding that 50 or 60 agents could be plumb crazy or boorish philistines, there seemed to be a clue that perhaps the work was wanting in some way. The work needed more work. I attacked this challenge vigorously: I put the novel on my hard drive’s shelf, to breathe.
So the thing slumbered for another long while, while I blandly pondered self-pubbing. Having spent a couple of years here at WriterUnboxed, where the tutelage of eagle-eyed savants like Don Maass, David Corbett, and Lisa Cron can’t help but inflict one with exquisite writerly pain, I began to see that there might be a couple of rips in the novel’s fabric that might necessitate some sewing. With a whaling harpoon. [Read more…]