Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

I don't usually comment here two days in a row. But it's New Year! I wanted to get down some immediate thoughts on how I see 2009.

First, I was somewhat dejected that I hadn't finished my revisions to the Hafan Deg manuscript yesterday. It was a pact I made with myself, and one I thought I could fulfil. But those darned characters, what can I say? They will NOT behave the way I want them to. They fiddle about, hanging curtains, going on about Genius Loci's and how well the furnace is working. I just can't seem to get them to go where I want them. Today, in a mighty effort, I will, somehow, take them in hand.

I have to tell you, and it's not easy to say, that I got a rather disappointing review of the manuscript. Hafan Deg appears on two other writing sites, and this particular one, from whence appeared the critique, I had earlier tried to cancel (it didn't seem appropriate for my book, surrounded, as it was, with fantasy, vampires, and gothic horror). They politely told me they can't cancel. However, despite being a reader of that site, the reviewer appears eloquent and learned enough for me to take seriously.

In setting up this blog, I told you that I would entertain any worthwhile critiques and try to learn from them. I knew I would have to be brave. I've inserted the whole thing below. I would really appreciate it if you would comment on it. The thing is, if it's true, then I should just scrap the whole book and go back to painting. Yet I receive feedback from other sites where people are following Karen with such interest and involvement, so that this one frankly hurts. My gut feeling is that this book is just not suitable for this reader; we all read totally different kinds of books. My best friend in Oz would never pick up Hafan Deg to read if she found it at the library, I know, because she prefers Harlan Coben thrillers, but the poor girl is ploughing through it out of loyalty, not riveted attention.

So I wanted to ask the critic what he preferred to read, but felt it would be unseemly to actually follow up on a less than kind critique. I must conclude that he didn't closely read the book, perhaps a quick skim, because he didn't know that Hafan Deg was a house, and that the name is Welsh for 'safe harbor', and that all appears in the opening two or three chapters, as I recall. Anyway, it's below. PLEASE comment.



'I haven’t learned what a "hafan deg" is yet

I’m slowly working my way through "Hafan Deg," and I still don’t know what the title means. I’m assuming the story itself will tell me, so I’m not bothering to cheat and look it up. But as titles go, it’s eye-catching only because it’s so different, not because it’s informative.

Whatever it means, "Hafan Deg" is the story of Karen, as she vacations and attempts to find meaning in her life, now that her children have moved on. She’s returned to her favourite vacation spot of their childhood, a place she hasn’t been to in sixteen years. Most things are the same when she arrives, time here holds still.

Not so in the story’s narration, which (while third-person in perspective) follows Karen’s thoughts quite closely. She seems lost in time, reminiscing about children and past lovers, old memories and regrets. She’s clearly a woman looking for meaning amidst the chaos of day to day life, and hopes this place of memories will reinvent a future for her.

Perhaps it’s because I’m nowhere near middle-aged yet, or perhaps because most Web Fiction is usually more fast-paced, but I find myself yawning through most of Karen’s self-reflection. For one thing, her thoughts don’t stay in any one scene, whether of current events or memories, for me to find a sense of attachment to the moment. She skims over everything, without getting to the meat of any of the moments of her life. Perhaps that says something about her character, but it makes for dull reading, because I can’t get inside any one scene and feel its emotional heartbeat.

Without that pulse, the story really doesn’t come alive for me. I’d be much more interested in her memories or current adventures if the story showed more about them, but the constant skimming leaves me skipping from chapter to chapter to find something more to sink my teeth into. Let’s hope I find something satisfying.'




Well, leaving that bit of negativity, I have just one more extract from another blog, which I stole shamelessly, because it's funny, and fitting to the day.

"Some doctor on the TV this morning said that the way to achieve "inner peace" is to finish all the things you have started. So I looked around my house to see things I'd started and hadn't finished and, before leaving the house this morning, I finished off a bottle of Merlot, a bottle of shhhardonay, a bodle of Baileys, abutle of vocka, a pockage of Pringlies, tha mainder of a botl Prozic and Valumscriptins, the res of the Chesescke an a box a c hocolets.

Yu haf no idr who fikin gud I fel.

Peas sen dis orn to anyy yu fee ar in ned ov inr pece."



I'll talk to you next week...Inner Peace, everyone!

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