Hello dear reader – hopefully this finds you well and happy and enjoying life in every aspect. If only I could say the same! Well, maybe I will one day. Living in hope is great.
Yesterday I sent the manuscript of the novel I’ve been working on to my reader critics, who will tell me whether it is any good or not, and if it is, how to make it better. They are busy people with plenty of other things on their minds as well as plates, so I don’t think I’ll be hearing much from them for a while.
Cue tiny violins playing horrible out of tune dirges to go with an anxious mood. It’s the way things are, Steve. Get over it! Yes, ok…
Naturally in the interim there are things I can do – go through the thing again and try to improve it before hearing the good/bad news. I will too.
What is true is that any writer is lucky to have a reader who is worthy, who will say, “Yes, this is a very interesting book. Put it in your bottom drawer and think how much fun it is going to have there.” If they won’t say that there is no point in worrying. The writer will find out later and in a much less pleasant way that s/he has written a novel that is complete rubbish. I am lucky in my readers.
A good reader will do more than that of course. If it’s worth carrying on with it, the reader will point out ways to improve the manuscript. This may involve word choices, or the order of things, or a lack of clarity, not enough here or there, or rather too much there and here, or a great deal too much practically everywhere. There are lots of ways a reader, with fresh eyes, can add to a novel including through the miracle of subtraction. Less really can be more!
This particular book is more problematic for me than previous ones and that makes me more anxious than usual. It is in a genre – or perhaps genrelette – that is new for me as a writer, so I am more anxious than I might otherwise be about it. Being me, I haven’t wanted to write a book that fit a formula – you won’t find another like this one, or I don’t think you will. This is intentional and has its good as well as its bad aspects.
Meanwhile, it doesn’t have a title. Most novels do*, and I have been trying unsuccessfully to think of one that will suit. Salman Rushdie wrote an essay some years ago about novels with titles that had nothing to do with the story; he was not happy about this, and singled out Trainspotting as an example. So while I am keeping the story under wraps for the time being, any suggestions for a good title might work out just fine. Fergle for example doesn’t mean anything at all anyway – I just made this up – so might do. Nasal gazing has a quality of sparking some interest, means something though nothing to do with the book, is a little bit funny and refers very, very obliquely to a story by Gogol I loved as a pimply yoof. Derek the Dickhead eats his Y-fronts is mildly relevant but doesn’t really express the content of the book either. It turns out to suggest a not bad title for this post though, so it is worth something. So many choices! So little time!
Thanks for reading.
* This is so weak a joke I feel obliged to point out that it is one.