30 April, 2012
Stuck in the Mud
I'm about a third of the way through the second draft of my novel, but it doesn't feel like it, because I'm still wavering on the structure and voice. Writing in multiple first-person viewpoints is more of a challenge than I was expecting. To maintain a coherent style, but create four or five distinct voices within that style, is tricky. I feel like what I've written so far is incoherent and fragmented, I wonder sometimes whether the book will be boring and I'm continually wobbling on whether I can really write well enough to do it justice. I am prepared to make radical changes and to edit and restructure as much as needed; the trouble is, I'm not quite sure what is needed. I have one or two things I need to work on before I write any more of this draft, I just wish I could be confident that I knew for certain what they were. It could be good, I know it could, I'm just very afraid it won't be.
Working on two novels for the last year has meant little else has had a chance of happening. Months on end without much feedback is tough. This year I've wanted to start selling my work - or trying to at least. In the past I've mainly entered competitions, and I've had a little success with that. But I want someone to actually want to buy my work. With this in mind, I've edited and submitted a couple of old stories of mine. I'd like to submit more, but I'm stuck again. Where to send things? I don't think my style is really literary enough to make it into the top magazines etc. but most other markets seem to fit into a few categories:
1) Non-paying. This is alright to get a bit of exposure, but if your work's good enough to be published in the first place, then you should be expecting to be paid for it, right? I am open to submitting to non-paying markets as long as they are quality, but it's not my ultimate aim.
2) Women's commercial fiction. I don't write this (although one of my two current submissions does fit in this category). I've tried with one or two things, but it's not a style that comes naturally to me. It's the biggest market in the UK, so it's worth cracking, but it's also the most competitive.
3) Fantasy and science fiction. I don't write this either. I would like to try at some point but, again, it's not my natural genre. It's a style that seems easy to get wrong but also a bit easier to get right if you are a good writer. I resent that fantasy and SF writers have such a big market, where those of us rooted in the real world don't!
I know there are some good websites like Duotrope which help writers narrow down markets, but even they are much more suited to genre writers. It's no coincidence that the only two stories I've tried to find a market for are my only two genre stories (women's commerical and historical). I guess I've spent the last few years trying to teach myself to write, but I never realised a writer also needs to learn how to sell work. Anyone out there in the same position as me? Or have you unstuck yourself and have some wise words to help me on my way?
There is one competition that I did want to enter. It's a big one. Only open to writers over 18 and under 26 with a children or young adult novel, it seemed perfect. Having had positive professional feedback on my children's novel I thought I stood a fighting chance, especially as nobody older than me can enter! However, they released the full terms and conditions today and my novel is way too long. Back to taking the long way round then...
On a more positive note, I thought it was about time to add an 'About Me' page to this blog. If you read this regularly then you probably know about me, but feel free to take a look anyway!