I always try to look for silver linings, both in people and in situations. Even the grumpiest, lugubrious of people must have something that tickles their fancy – or perhaps not!
For the last two years I’ve concentrated on my novels – I’ve still written the odd short story, but not subbed anything anywhere, apart from ‘The Yellow Balloon’ (which was accepted by My Weekly 18 months but not yet published), ‘Hypnolove’ which was published in an anthology, and a couple of other random short stories which were rejected.
I have decisions to make about my writing – two different agents have now said that I am a better saga writer than a writer of the contemporary stuff. Two unconnected professional people – two identical conclusions. The thing is, I loved writing The White Cuckoo. It was written straight from my heart. It is special and precious and it feels like I want to protect it, like a mother would a child.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed writing the sagas, too, but I was helped by a walking encyclopedia of memories of the 20s and 30s and didn’t have to do much research other than sit and talk to my Great Aunt, who sadly is no longer with us.
The White Cuckoo is a contemporary women’s fiction, with the back story set in 1910. My gut feeling is that it works as it is (and both the first and second RNA readers seemed to have the same view, so I can’t be completely out of step, can I?) One of my local readers said she felt like writing to the agents I had approached to tell them how much she loved the story and that it was refreshing to have a main character she could actually identify herself with and root for, instead of reading about criminals, misery and doom and gloom all the time. Now two agents, completely unconnected, have suggested I write the 1910 story as a family saga. The whole point of the Cuckoo is the subtle strands of connectivity between two women – one who lived in 1910 and the other who is trying to sort out the tangled mess in her life in the here and now. If I could liken the novel to a diagram, it would be like the geometry of a sphere-shaped object, with everything connected and the formulae all adding up, but with tangents and parallels going off in all directions, sometimes hidden from view, but there all the same for the reader to discover.
If I re-write the 1910 part of the story as a complete novel, I feel I will be stealing the soul from The White Cuckoo and selling it to the devil.
One agent said that people don’t want to read about your average 27 year old woman who drinks lattes, has a well-paid job and sports car and who travels half way across the country to find her estranged sister and then falls in love with a Civil Engineer. Why? I’m so confused.
There must be thousands of young women who have good jobs, a sports car and fancy the pants off a Civil Engineer. Not everyone is destitute, hard-up and living in a squat and being gang-raped by psychopathic handgun-wielding, granny-mugging thugs.
JM, the agent who has been trying to sell the trilogy of sagas, has suggested that I re-write my first novel ‘Sunlight on Broken Glass’ to make it grittier – to make the heroine really suffer, but to tone down Tom (see previous post) because publishers she approached felt his behaviour is a bit near the knuckle. I think I would rather do this than rip the heart out of the Cuckoo.
Is it really such a mortal sin for a new writer to write a book that is cross-genre – like The White Cuckoo. Apparently you can get away with it when you have a few published novels under your belt, but a new writer? No, no no!
Anyway, despite being a little frayed around the edges, I have decided to tinker around with ‘Sunlight’ and let the ‘Cuckoo’ rest for a while. I just can’t bring myself to dismantle this work of art that, I, alone, have created – it was for me and it is precious to me. I’m not going to let it go. I don’t have to, do I?
In the meantime, I’ll fray myself around the edges a little more by sticking my toe into the muddy water of short story submissions, and I might tinker around with the NaNo novel and see if I can turn it into a pocket novel (using the very successful, Sally Q’s helpful guidelines on her blog).
Right – when I get my first short story rejection, can someone please remind me that it’s just a hobby, it’s supposed to be enjoyment and that all writers have to deal with rejections.
Perhaps my frayed edges will have a silver lining, after all? Who knows.
Anyway, a Happy and successful 2010 to anyone reading this post by a very frayed and frazzled Annie.