Gloom at Midnight
January 16, 2011
No, I’m not gloomy because of the hour. Left to my own devices, I gravitate towards going to bed between 2 and 3 am, and waking around 10 or 10:30. This is a problem when the ordained Schedule of Normal Life intrudes into my comfortable seclusion, and, having forgotten to go to bed earlier, I wake – well, I rise – like a zombie arises.
Which leads me to this tangent. Why is it that morning people are so smugly, arrogantly self-righteous about getting up early? I can never convince them that there is no greater virtue in their being awake while I sleep than there is in my being awake while they crash at ungodly early hours…. An eternal puzzle, I know.
Anyways, I am in despondency because I read a randomly selected section of my completed novel. Taken in context, it is a useful explanation of the underlying world of the story. Taken on its own as a piece of prose, I decided it sounded like pretentious twaddle. To be fair, I have been wrestling with recalcitrant words all evening, and my brain hurts. But not even Kettle brand Salt and Pepper potato chips could restore my equanimity.
This novel has been rewritten so many times – I have taken out far more words than are left in it. I love it. I love the world it describes, the people in it, and the ideas wandering behind the story. This is no recommendation, I know. If one didn’t love one’s own words, why would one keep writing them? Through all those revisions, edits, massive wordicides, the themes shine like gold, and I wish it were a true vision of the world.
I have read that an author should know where in a bookstore their book would be placed. I found it easier to reverse that. If I had bought it, where did I find it? Authors are also supposed to know which books are similar to their creation. The list of books that I feel share the tone, the themes, the somewhat reserved style include: Jane Austen, Mirrlees’ Lud-in-the-Mist, Sacher’s Cardturner, Shinn’s Archangel, maybe even a touch of my adored Diana-Wynne Jones, the Liaden novels… Dorothy Sayers… Ian Stewart (wonderful Ian Stewart – his maths books are a delight, and Wheelers well worth reading and thinking about); an eclectic mix that may or may not be revealing of my work. My only comfort right now is that, no matter what anyone else thinks, I have created a book that is what I love to read, and since no man is an island, I know there are thousands of people in the world who would also love to read it. But – will agents and publishers love it? Will it fit a slot in a list? I am skeptical, but unavoidably, incurably optimistic.
So – gloom, yes, but not unmitigated. A judicious application of tea is helping.