Friday, March 30, 2012
DOING THE LIMBO
The little girl in the picture is typing on the same kind of typewriter I got when I was sixteen and a budding historical fiction writer. I love this picture because it reminds me of how many years I have worked at being a writer, and I reminisce about those many years of working toward fulfilling my dream: to get a major novel published! At the moment I'm in a kind of writer's 'limbo' waiting for the next step in the fine-tuning of "Shadow of the Lion" before I sent it off into the big wide world of publishing.
You never imagine from the time you begin a novel until the time you get to his point how much work is involved. This was a complicated novel that turned into a much larger piece of work than I'd ever intended. When I began researching and writing it back in 1990 I intended it to be just a short juvenile historical but after a year or so realized it was too vast and political a story, so was encouraged to start over. I did. And it became an epic!
Then you finish and all the editing begins. I was block editing as I went along and had lots of valuable critiquing advice from my Scribbler's writing group. But after it was finished, because it had become a lengthy piece of work and needed cutting, I had two excellent readers critiques done, and then began fine-tuning with the editor's eye, not the writer's. In all I think I went through it meticulously at least four times! Then I turned it over to a professional editor who is still working on it. A big investment, it turned out -- something else I had not really expected, but it IS an investment and needed to be done.
It's funny not having the manuscript to work on. I miss the characters as much as if they had been living souls keeping me company all those years. I feel like I'm in a bit of a vacuum because I was so used to devoting most of my time to writing about them or researching about them.
In the meantime I'm trying to keep busy with travel articles, but these are quick little pieces of writing that don't require the intense work the novel did. And I'm retyping the first-draft old manuscript of the novel I'd half finished before getting discouraged and setting it aside in favour of Alexander and his story. The wonderful thing is, when I workshop the chapters of my Celtic novel, Dragons in the Sky which is written as a first person narrative with a much difference voice and style than Shadow, my writer's group just loves it. This is a Celtic novel, set in ancient Britain 4th century BC with an eventual connection to Alexander. Parts of it are written in Bardic verse. As I retype it I am amazed at the prose and wonder if I can continue it in order to finish the novel. But I won't do any research or rewrites until Shadow of the Lion is out of my hands.
I do have another idea cooking for a novel about Alexander's mother, Olympias. I've had that idea for years but didn't pursue it as I was too determined to finish Shadow first. I also have a half-finished play about Sappho, the lyric poet. So there's no end of work to keep me going for awhile.
The monetary investment I'm making in Shadow of the Lion means I can't go back to Greece this summer, and that makes me feel sad. But I am looking at the future, because I know this novel is worth it and needs to be shown to the traditional publishers first. Then, if all else fails I'll consider self-publishing. So this long journey won't be ending any time soon!