There’s nothing more guaranteed to turn an agent off than an unpublished writer saying of their new work, “My friends love it.” They don’t want to know, thank you very much. They’ll judge the work according to their own criteria and nothing will ultimately change that.
And that’s fair enough. Let’s face it, if your job depends on your finding successful writers, it’s probably a good idea not to trust the opinion of a whole bunch of people who quite possibly don’t exist anyway.
But friends and fellow bloggers are increasingly becoming an important part of the writing process for me, in addition to my existing readers. They (yes, you!) are helping me see more and more that I’m not deluded. Children of the Resolution is an important and potentially successful novel, and, yes, I’m doing a bloody fine job of writing it.
So I’m planning on gathering together all the comments I’ve received so far and putting them in one place. It will never convince an agent who doesn’t like my work, but if one who’s already interested drops by, who knows? It may just tip the balance in my favour.
Worth the effort, do you think?
Chapter Seven of Children of the Resolution completed, I today allowed myself to briefly consider who I’m going to approach first when the time comes to place it. This is the part I genuinely hate. With good reason. My experience with publishers — however much encouragement there’s been (and there has been a lot) — has not been good.
But this time it will be different (my mantra.) I have a unique, semi-autobiographical novel that deals with a very specific moment in time, a time of promise largely unfulfilled, a time of naivette and badly applied ethos — a time of happiness and sadness, friendship and growing self-awareness. I knew these people, and, indeed, I was one of them. In a couple of cases, I still know them. And all of their stories deserve to be told — more to the point, deserve to be read. Preferably by millions.
So I know who I’m approaching (I was going to say “first”, but I’m determined to be positive; there will be no second.) I’m starting by submitting to the largest agency in Europe and they’ll agree to represent me if I have to dangle them out of a window by their feet
No prisoners. Children of the Resolution will succeed.
(Cue Rocky music.)
Well, as promised, here are Chapters Three and Four of Children of the Resolution (first draft.) Future chapters won’t, I’m afraid, be available through this site — but I will gladly share them via email with a select number of reviewers. Naturally, I aim to publish in the traditional way, so giving it all away through this site would go against me in a number of ways.
If you wish to be added to the Children of the Resolution reviewers list, please comment.
These and early chapters, together with samples of other work, can also be found here.
I’m a little disturbed by just how easy I’m finding it to write from the viewpoint of a six-year-old. I’d expected sleepless nights, much unsatisfying rewriting and handfuls of ibuprofen just to keep the headaches at bay. Not so. It’s actually proving to be a liberating and refreshing experience — the challenge of communicating a child’s strange (but, ultimately, oddly understandable) logic without going overboard lending my writing a degree of vitality that I haven’t felt for a while.
I suspect I’m going to come away from this with a renewed respect for children.
Now, where did I put my Space Dust?
Today I was forced to take a break from my literary endeavours when I woke this morning feeling more exhausted than I’d felt upon retiring the night before. An annoyance, given that I wanted to get on with chapter two, but I have to be sensible; I have rather less energy than most (an effect of my disability), and 7,000 words in a little over a week isn’t bad going. I therefore gave myself the advice I’ve given other writers in the past; writing a novel is a marathon, not a sprint. We none of us have limitless energy. Use what you have wisely.
On the subject of The Children of the Resolution, I’m toying with possibly posting the prologue and chapter one on this blog. I don’t want to do this, however, if no one is interested in reading it (it makes me look terribly unpopular if prospective publishers drop by .) Given that it’s only twenty double-spaced pages, would you be interested in reading and sharing your honest opinion (good or bad)?
I’ve decided to make the full chapter outline for Children of the Resolution (note the new title — the reason for which can be found here) available online. I’d like this project to be much more of an observable process than my other work, the day-to-day changes and developments noted and, where appropriate, commented on. I’m not sure how workable it is, but we’ll give it a go and see, eh?
Children of the Resolution Chapter Outline.
The above question is one I’ve been thinking about quite a lot just recently. The chapter outlines for Children of the Revolution are now complete (and, boy, am I happy with them!) and whilst there are immense similarities to my own experiences up to the age of about nineteen, and even though my protagonist possesses many Gary-like traits and attitudes, it’s still hard for me to comfortably view it as being about “me”. Even though, to a very large extent, it is.
The author John Irving once made an insightful comment. I’m quoting from memory, here, but it went something along the lines of how he was wary of/uncomfortable with the autobiographical form because he could “always remember a better version”. He was referring to that very human (and possibly very necessary) trait we have to revise our memories — to tweak them in our favour, to make ourselves the heroes of our own lives, or merely to present a more amusing story down the pub. I am very conscious of wanting to avoid this with Children of the Revolution. If Carl, my protagonist, is to be even a bit like me, I don’t want him morphing into some cape-wearing superhero — WheelchairMan, Righter of Educational Wrongs and All-round Good Egg.
To avoid this, I’m trying not to think of it in “semi-autobiographical” terms. I’m drawing on my past heavily (the school-based episodes have about a ninety percent factual base), but the emphasis in the phrase “semi-autobiographical novel” is solidly on the word “novel”. It has to be, if I’m to get the job done successfully. Carl is just another character in just another of my novels. A boy/man like any other — with faults and virtues alike. He’s not me, because if he were I might be tempted on some level to gloss over my own failings (not that there are that many, as I’m sure you know… I’ve told you often enough ) and present an unbalanced view that would do no one any favours.
I might admit to the unmistakable likeness and the genetic match once the novel is written, but for now he’s someone I’ve just met — a stranger I’m learning to know and love.
The things a writer has to do!