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Sunday, 9 January 2011

Paperback Writer

One of the bloggers I follow The Daily G has gone off line to write a novel. I wish him all the best in his endeavour.

It's the old saw that everyone has at least one novel in them.You know how it is. You read something and think "That was published! I could write better than that." Usually it stops there. Self awareness steps in or you just can't be bothered.

You may go a stage further and begin to type:

"You couldn't tell that John was dead just by looking at him. But when Bob nudged him his head tumbled to the floor. John was dead alright." And then you stop; having enough sense to know you won't make The Mann Booker Prize short-list any time soon. 

That hasn't stopped me. My hard drives are littered with my literary detritus. I have completed a couple of short stories and have given up on a crypto Proust effort which I began 13 years ago. There are numerous other opening chapters which sit abandoned. I just don't have the heart to kill them off.

The really frustrating thing is that I often think I have a great opening or story line. It's there fully formed in my mind's eye. My best ideas usually occur in bed - do you find that? Just before I nod off some great thought will filter through the Horlicks and medication and I think I must write that down so I don't forget it. Invariably I don't and I do.

My unfinished opus "Murder Amongst the Vines" was begun when I was very interested in wine and the whole business of making the stuff. So the novel involves the hero (me in disguise) and his wife buying a run down vineyard in the South of France (the general area around Rodez) and stumbling upon the remains of at least 6 murder victims and a black magic tradition that stretches back to pre- revolutionary days. Interspersed with this high drama and excitement are my musings on wine, what it means and masses of "interesting" dialogue with a local police inspector who is investigating the crimes. Still with me?

Anyway, after about Chapter 10 when I found the main character  staring into the portal of Hell and incarcerated in a mental hospital, I kinda lost the will to live and for the past 10 years the novel has remained unfinished. I do look at it now and again, switch on the spell checker and spend a distracting hour or so wondering how I ever had a reasonably successful career in the Civil Service.

I completed a short story called "Dead Again" which I thought was quite good. The hero (me) finds himself inhabiting a world of the "Near Dead". He's suspended in space surrounded by millions of other "Near Dead" and here he meets all sorts of strange creatures including a huge white rabbit. Our hero has fallen into a parallel universe. In the "real" world he's a scientist working with a research group developing quantum computing. Now the thing is that in developing this technology the research group tap into an unimaginably large energy source......which is drawn from the parallel world our hero inhabits when he's "Near Dead".

I won't spoil it for you, but suffice to say the implications are mega and the ending is, even if I say so myself, surprising and extremely clever.

I'd signed up to a website that enables you to up load your creative masterpieces where other budding literary giants critique your work .However, before you can get your genius recognised you first have to read and review others work. This I did, making incisive, constructive criticism which I felt sure would enable the budding Joyces to fine tune their masterpieces.

I then uploaded  "Dead Again" and sat back to await the plaudits and publishing deals that would inevitably follow.

Now, I have to admit I didn't quite get the hang of this uploading malarkey. First, I was told that I'd exceeded the word count limit - so I tried to edit the work. To no avail, it was still too bulky. So I unloaded half of the work which was ok. Except I inadvertantly uploaded the second half.

The comments were uniformly bad. They can be summarised as "boring", "what are you on about", "life's too short", "what made you think you could write". I was slightly peeved as they weren't what I'd have called constructive.

Never mind, I had written a 4000 word short story "The last e-mail" which I thought would be ideal for a weekly woman's magazine. It was the tale of a woman getting her revenge on her horrible husband - but in an electronically savvy way. So I e-mailed it (ho,ho) to "The People's Friend - the magazine for women who love reading." My mother in law had been taking this mag for years and they were always on the lookout for compelling short stories.

I got a very nice e-mail back from someone in the back office, thanking me for my interest but they felt that my story wasn't quite what they were looking for.

I will persevere.

I've got this great idea for a novel. This man goes into a bank and wants to open an account with £10,000 in coppers.... What do you think of it so far?


The Sagittarian said...

Great post, obviously a lot of effor and has been well thought out. Spelling exceptional. Sorry, but it just isn't what I was looking for....

Barry Coidan said...

Praise indeed.Normal service will be resumed shortly.