February 26, 2009

Writing is a strange business.

It really is.

So, the story so far is that, I have one book being published, that one being Mr. Shivers. Now, it’s a two book contract, so I wrote a second book, a big, sprawling sci-fi noir about corporate espionage in 1919. Then I decided I didn’t like it all that much, and that it was mighty confused in parts, and I just felt like I had tried and failed. When I gave it to a friend and his opinions coincided with mine, I boxed it, and chose to power on ahead.

So I wrote a third book. This one was an intimate, scaled-down novel about a little girl lost in the London Blitz, and the fantasy world she constructs for herself. It was a story about stories, and her great fear that they may be meaningless in the face of the brutality of the world.

Then the delivery time came. I gave my editor DongWon the Blitz book and then, very reluctantly, the sci-fi one. He read them both, came back and said he found the Blitz book to be sort of thin and not all that evocative, whereas he found the sci-fi one great fun, very interesting, and it wasn’t all that confused, either, not if you fixed this part there and put this over here.

This, as you can understand, was a real shock to me, as I hadn’t honestly thought of that book in months. It was a very weird thing to hear that the book you liked wasn’t what they wanted, but your ugly stepchild seemed to be just the thing.

So. I guess it’s both encouraging and discouraging. On the one hand, a book a put a lot of imagination and work into is getting the attention I’d hoped it would, along with some much-needed editorial guidance. On the other hand, a book I wrote (albeit one I wrote in a month) isn’t being considered as good or as involving as I thought it’d be. I do find this sort of disheartening, because I’ve always thought that you have only so many crappy stories in you, so you need to get them all out at once, and so theoretically you should get better and better with each novel, whereas with me it feels like the reverse is true, or maybe there’s no pattern at all…

This is probably all pointless neuroticism. I’m basically just a kid who has no idea what he’s doing and is just trying everything, all at once. I’m going to eat some shit every once in a while. I’ve eaten plenty already. So I’m just going to take it as a learning experience, and that plot is indeed a good thing along with a thing I can do, and buck up and wait for DongWon’s notes so I can read over an old book with a new eye.