Monday, March 26, 2007

Neurotic of Greater London

Word count: 76,917

Spent most of my weekend working time sorting out a lecture on short story writing I'm giving this week - interesting, but frustrating when I wanted to crack on with Book 5. And as a result I was struggling a bit today.

Went to the critique group this evening and am feeling a bit flat about the book. I am definitely going for a more upbeat, light approach to the current project as it marks a departure for me, but the bit I read tonight felt very thin and obvious and not all that funny. I know it's a first draft, but in my head this part was much better than the reality. Which depresses me. I have set myself daft deadlines and now I am worrying that the writing is suffering as a result: will I have time to put it right? Does it even matter that it's frothy? I also got rather paranoid that no-one ever really says anything after I read, yet we can find plenty of interesting stuff to discuss about other people's work. Is it just because I am a dopey lightweight airhead?


Anyhow, just to cheer you up, here's a feature about how hard it is to get a first novel published. It then goes on to profile five novelists. I don't doubt that they're all talented, with great ideas, but the people chosen do rather reinforce the stereotype that one has to have been to Oxbridge, have famous or publishing-related relatives, or both, to get a publishing deal.*

*It's not true, btw. I had neither connections nor an Oxbridge degree. But then again I am never likely to be featured in the Observer... it's a cross I have to bear.


Blogger Zinnia Cyclamen said...

'Dopey lightweight airhead'? I don't think so.

Suggestions re the critique group: ask them why they don't say anything after you read. Request constructive criticism. Tell them you want their help. After all, there's not much point going to a critique group if you don't get a critique.

7:57 am  
Blogger Kate said...

Ah, thank you...I will probably do that, but then, thinking about it, I wonder if it's mainly down to me. It's a lovely group, we talk about everything writing related and in a way that's the most useful bit for me, but after I read my stuff out, I often get so nervous about the contemplative silence that follows that I start nattering on and on myself so people don't have much chance to be honest about the problems with it.

I think it's partly the stage I am at with the book, too. Realising it's imperfect. Not being sure how much better I can make it.

8:20 am  
Blogger Kevin said...

I tend to eschew critique groups -- but that's because (outside of writing workshop/retreats) I've never found one that gave me anything except pats on the head.

As for writing to deadline affecting your writing: For me it's a help. Having a specific objective which must be attained is very clarifying -- I trust my first instinct and don't kill the story second-guessing choices I've made.

Today's security word -- cleverly defending against robots -- is sshucnu, which I'm sure everyone remembers is Cthulhu's younger and less famous brother, the accountant.

1:49 pm  
Blogger Jane Henry said...

Kate, how successful are the rest of the group? Maybe they are a bit intimidated about how well you are doing and feel they can't comment? And you're not a lightweight!!

Hate these how to get pubbed articles, because they never paint an accurate picture. Like it REALLY REALLY has taken me nine years to get published (or it will be by the time I get there) and MOST people don't get offered three book deals with mega advances straight away....

8:00 pm  

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