Monday, February 2, 2009

Pernickety, Humorless, and Stony-faced

For those of you who were thinking of entering the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2009, just a reminder that today is the day. You have from now until next Monday 9th to submit. The link is under Contests in the left side bar.

During the cutting of Hafan Deg, I really felt like I was spring-cleaning. You know how it feels when you clean out cupboards - you don't much like doing it but it's satisfying when you've finished? - well, that was the feeling. It didn't involve the daemon's hot-breath flow writing; it was impersonal, cold-blooded analysis. The bit of the brain that was responsible for the bulk of the work seemed to take a little nap, just checking in now and then. It sort of stirred for a moment, took a look, said, "Guess that's all right," and went back to sleep while I worked on the next chunk.

I wore a different hat - a pragmatic, hawk-eyed editor's hat - during the demolition stage. Oh, I'm sorry - I keep using negative words to describe this last couple of weeks' work. I can't help it. It still hurts, even as I grudgingly admit that it was necessary for a first novel. As the editor, and not the writer, I was less fun. Even my cats noticed. I was all pernickety, humorless, stony-faced and frowning as I worked. When I'm writing, I often chuckle out loud, because I'm normally a light-hearted old broad. Ask anyone. I don't like that other me much. This week I have to don my Marketing Maven outfit because I'm starting the Query Process. She smiles a lot, that one, not necessarily involving the eyes. I don't care for her much, either.

After all this work, it especially hurts when you pick up a book by some famous writer who's been around for years, who turns out literary tomes that you could use as a door stop - not that I would, of course - well...perhaps once. He is established, revered, and now gets to write whatever he wants, waffling on - yes, waffling! - throwing in adverbs and adjectives and dialogue as if paper grew on trees. And the jacket blurb marvels at the brilliance of his prose, with never a word about being over-written or a trifle long.

So, of late, full of sour grapes, I've become acutely aware of this inequity. I am awed by the thickness of the particular book I'm reading - over 600 pages, filled with many, many words. What freedom! What licence!

Oh, to be wordily-established...

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Quotes to Consider

"If you would not be forgotten, as soon as you are dead and rotten, Either write things worth reading, or do things worth writing." ~Benjamin Franklin

"Well behaved women rarely make history."~Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

“A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.”~William G.T. Shedd (1820-1894), theologian, teacher, pastor

"It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something." ~Franklin D Roosevelt (1882-1945), 32nd U.S. president

“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), essayist, poet, philosopher

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." ~Mark Twain

"You miss 100% of the shots you don't take."
~ Wayne Gretzky