Friday, March 27, 2009

Reliance On The Kindness of Writers

I was somewhat taken aback this last day or two, since I posted about the request for the full manuscript of Hafan Deg with the thirty-day exclusivity attached. So many of you congratulated me, encouraged me, shared this fragile snippet of hope as if it were your own. I know some of you are already at the same stage with your books, and it moves me to see how unstinting you are with your concern for me. I've said all of this before, but it's worth repeating how much it means - and how constantly amazed I am at your generosity. Thank you, again.

I am heavily involved in Strachan's Attic. The book was meant to be a revision, an update of the original MS, but I find I am re-writing great chunks, and it's taking far longer that I'd originally planned. I'm not complaining, because when I read the previous day's work the next morning, it's satisfying to see it taking on a fresh new life. Perhaps I should stop calling this an old book, and refer to it now as my new novel; certainly it retains the original idea, but the characters have completely changed - for the better, I hope.

The research is ongoing, as I come up with some new aspect of World War II that I want to reflect. Browsing through the archives at various sites, I come across stories that engulf me so completely, even though they're not relevant to my book, that I can't tear myself away. Many, many people have offered their individual memories to these sites as a permanent record of that poignant time in history. Most of the writers, if they are still with us, are in their 80s or 90s now, relating things that must still cause strong emotions in them. Some are written by relatives, even grandchildren trying to connect to their own pasts. This is also a reminder to you to record your family history, to question aging relatives about their stories, otherwise it's lost forever.

I mention this because there is such a wealth of material out there for the writer interested in an earlier time. I've found enough story ideas from this one decade to write a hundred books. So many of these people in uniform were high school age, seventeen, eighteen years of age. Late in the war, boys joined the Navy at fourteen, easily getting away with the lie that they were older because no one questioned too deeply; the War Effort needed every able body it could get. It's emotional work, this book, although I suppose all our writing must be in different ways. If we didn't invest our own vulnerability in it, how convincing would it be?

There's a lot of stuff out there about literary agents - what they think, what they want, etc., but I don't think we ever tire of hearing about them. They're our greatest challenge, our Everest - sometimes, when we're feeling low, even our bete noire. I came across a discussion between four young agents at the Poets & Writers site which I found interesting enough to link here. They make a couple of points that I hadn't thought about, and it's a rewarding read. Perhaps you'll find it useful.

Have a great weekend, all you lovely, thoughtful, sensitive souls. If you must write, have a good weep over it, or a loud chuckle, love every word, and remind yourself how lucky you are to be writers.

POSTSCRIPT: Just received a request for another partial for Hafan Deg. This is new to me, so I wrote a polite response explaining the thirty day exclusive on the Full MS. I'm assuming I'm not meant to send partials during this time either. Anyone know for sure? In the meantime, I've removed the 3-chapter Link from here as well, to be fair. Hope someone out there is smarter than I feel right now...


Embee said...

Glad to hear your current write/rewrite is going well. I haven't had much time to work on my WIP. I'm trying just to hold it together and get thru the last semester before graduation, and work full time. When I have any free time, my creativity feels drained and it's hard to focus and write anything good. I'm hoping once winter (and snow) is gone, and I'm thru graduation, I'll feel inspired to write again!!!

Melissa Marsh said...

I love this time period - World War II. It captures my imagination like nothing else and all of the wonderful stories and research available makes it incredibly easy to fall in love with it even more.

Casey said...

Have you by chance seen the Band of Brothers mini series? I don't know if it's in Canada or not but we own it and I rather enjoyed it. It follows a company of airborne infantrymen from WWII. It features many interviews from the survivors of the company. It's beautifully done, I feel.

Glad Strachan's Attic is coming along and taking on a new life.