I’ve come to a decision about Slipwater. I am giving myself until my birthday next year – that’s May 7, 2021 – to find traction with a professional agent or publisher. If I still have made no headway by that time I’m going to self-publish the novel.
I know, I have always been opposed to going down that route. It’s the easy way, right? Any idiot can do that. There are no checks at any point in the process, and certainly nobody to tap you on the shoulder to tell you what you’ve written is trash.
Yeah, I know.
But I wrote the novel for a reason, and it’s good. I believe in it, and I want others to have the chance to read it, and if I have to swallow my pride and do what I swore I never would… then so be it.
Of course, I would much prefer to do this the traditional, tried and tested way, so if anybody in the business is reading this, here’s your chance to get in on the ground floor.
In other news I wrote a dark flash piece called I Am the Cheese. It’s something I put together very quickly – in about an hour actually – that isn’t particularly polished, but has potential down the line once I give myself the room to mess around with it.
I have sent off a few pieces to contests this month. I was going to give myself a budget each month for this, to get me in the habit of sending stuff away, so that may be an idea I can run with. I’ll have to see how it shakes out.
I haven’t done too much new writing this week, but I’ve thrown a couple of other childhood tropes into my latest Jack & Patrick tale, and it’s now rocking the rolls-off-the-tongue title of A Rabbit, a Fairy, and a Fat Man in a Red Suit. I think those three childhood ‘superheroes’ will work better as part of one story, than my initial plan to give them each their own narrative… and if you are struggling to figure out who I’m talking about, I really don’t know what to tell you!
I’ve (unintentionally) got into the habit of making each of these episodes two thousand words long – give or take a hundred – and this one looks like it will fit right in to that pocket. The nice thing about all of these Jack & Patrick stories is that I know if I get some time to myself and find the right rhythm, I could knock this piece out in an evening.
I still have to find the time (make the time) to send off some stories as well, and – more importantly – to hunt around for representation for Slipwater, because sooner or later I will hit upon someone who likes what they are reading, and sees the value in it.
A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that I had been brainstorming ideas for some new Jack & Patrick adventures. Seasonally inaccurate, I know, but one of those ideas is a Christmas story.
I started putting it together this week and got into it a little deeper than I had expected, so I now have a good chunk of the dialogue to work with. Although I do have other Jack & Patrick pieces in development, this will likely end up being the next – the eighth one – in the series.
I plan to send my novel Slipwater off to a few more agencies this week, because I’ve had a couple come back lately with a negative. Disheartening, sure, but writers are more familiar with rejection than most, and there’s always a contingency plan.
Besides, it’s their loss, because that story is money for the editor who is able to spot its potential.
I sent off my novel Slipwater to a few more agents this week, because (hard as it is to believe) it’s been almost a year since I finished it. And even harder to believe is that I have not changed, added, or removed one word of it since then. Seems I’m showing some restraint in my forties.
I know that if other more traditional avenues don’t work out I could go the self-publishing route. That’s something that’s always open to me. I know as well that that does not have to equate to giving up. There are plenty examples of self-published novels that have subsequently been noticed by the big leagues, but the fact that anyone with internet access and enough words is literally a few mouse clicks away from being a published novelist still irks me and, for the time being, I refuse to do it.
I want an agent or an editor to tell me what I already know – that it’s good, that there’s a market for my writing, and that they want to buy the manuscript.
Too much to ask? I guess we will just wait and see.
Well, not very much as it happens – certainly not as much as the first week of last year, when I was burning both ends of that candle and kicking out my final draft of Slipwater, but definitely more than I wrote in the final week of last year. I’m going to take that as a positive and move forward from there.
The short story I’m writing at the moment has been on the books for several years, and has gone through a number of name changes along the way, but I have settled for The 07.43 to Blackford Station, which is of course, subject to change.
It’s an old-fashioned monster story – something I’ve wanted to write for a long time – and is centred on five teenage friends as they take the morning train to school. I have over 3000 words down, and I’m probably looking at twice that upon completion. I know the beats I want to hit, so hopefully I can finally put my mind to it and put this story to bed once and for all. .. by the end of February.
So, The Girlfriend© is the first person to finish reading the final version of Slipwater, and she says that she likes it a lot, which I do appreciate very much. If her critique is anything to go by, I have managed to produce a cohesive and entertaining page-turner that left her with a lump in her throat by the time it ended. Really, what more can I ask for?
But let’s be honest, that’s a little like showing your mum your homework and having her pat you on the head and say that it’s good… isn’t it? (I’ve heard) that women can fake orgasms, so I’m sure they can feign a little glowing praise in other departments too if required.
Still, it is extremely gratifying for someone to recognise the hard work that has gone into producing it – even if she is just keeping me sweet because Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. There are worse things that she could lie to me about!
I only hope that I find an agent or editor who is as enthusiastic about Slipwater as she has been, because if I do, I’ll be a very happy little writer indeed.
A fast-paced police thriller at its core, with science fiction undertones, Slipwater is above all else, a tale of love lost, and hope regained. It is the story of one man’s blind desire to chase the second chance at the life he saw ripped away, no matter what the cost; and of his best friend’s quest to stop him.
That is part of the synopsis for Slipwater that I have sent off to five agencies over the last few days, along with either the first three chapters or the opening 10,000 words.
Agencies (and publishers, should you choose to go to them directly) dont want the entire manuscript, and that’s fair enough. I’m sure you know if you’re enjoying a book before reaching the end, and similarly, they don’t need to read every word you have written to know if it’s any good. What they ask for does however seem like a narrow window: a lot of stories are only just taking the training wheels off at that point. But, this is not my game, and these are their rules.
The girlfriend is currently reading it as well. She says she is enjoying it, but then again… she has a dog in this race, so it will be difficult for her to be completely blunt and honest. Hopefully there are no glaring plot holes or silly continuity errors that I inexplicably missed in all my edits – and I don’t think there are – but however she responds to it, it will be good to hear the opinion of someone who doesn’t know what is coming next.
87,500 words. And its finished. I don’t even want to look at it again, because i know the moment I do I will find something else to tinker with, and it’s unnecessary.
I could keep going, I know that. I could go through it again, change a few things here and there. Add something. Take something away. And theoretically I could do that for the rest of my life. But eventually you reach the point where the alterations being made are not worth the effort it takes to make them. And I think I have got to that place.
The only reason to keep editing ad infinitum, is fear. Scared of success or failure – maybe both. Once the story is done, it’s done. Let it go and move on, because otherwise the words will remain forever on your laptop or desktop or whatever else you may be using to write that masterpiece of yours.
Now I need to get it off my computer and into the hands of a publisher… and that’s when the hard work really begins.
So, 27 days after I finished the last draft of Slipwater – the first fully functional version of my novel that there has been this decade – I completed the current one.
At just under 86,000 words this run through is approximately 3,000 words meatier than its older brother, but the important thing is not so much about the extra words, but that those words matter and add to the story… because remember: length is not everything, girls.
As I was going over the story this time I realised there are a couple of things that I need to amend. They just don’t sit entirely as they should within the ‘rules’ of the world I have presented. That being so, I’m giving Slipwater one final cleanse, but it will be (primarily) limited to those portions of the narrative that are directly affected by the changes that need to be made, so it should not take too long at all. As far as the minutiae of the editing and the grammatical tasks is concerned – that’s all done. I’m good in that department.
So, it’s back to the beginning I go, but I’m going to have a sleep first.
No, not the ironically titled classic eighties movie, but this novel I’m working on.
I’m nearly there now, and it’s equal parts exciting and frightening. I have 75,000 words in the bag with the final three chapters still to revise. Of course, once I get to the end of this draft it still won’t be quite the finished product that I need it to be, because in the process of going through it this time I drilled down and made some adjustments that do necessitate another pass.
I have this waking nightmare that every draft I do gets closer and closer to what I am looking for, but I never pull the trigger on sending it away to a publisher because there’s always something else to fix or change or edit or add.
My novel is not perfect and it never will be, and that’s where I have to use a little restraint and learn to accept that reality. My job is to find the apex of the story and then walk away – close the book on… the book. And if I can do that, then I just may have written something worthwhile.