Sunday, 10 June 2012

There shall we wallow, down in the hollow

If you are one of the many brilliant people who read for the Romantic Novelist Association's fantastic New Writer's Scheme then please skip to the end of the post where I have been tagged in a power of four  to see just how predictable I am. Do Not Read the following piece of self indulgent pathetic whininess (please).

This weekend the Guardian Guide had an interview with Robert Pattinson in which he said that he never takes any notice of the good reviews but dwells on the negative ones. Now, I have seen all four of the Twilight films thus far, including Breaking Dawn part one to which my main reaction was a mixture of WTF and hysteria despite having read the book, so I am guessing poor Rob has read a lot of negative reviews in his short but lucrative career. It depressed me to think how much he must doubt himself, best known as a pretty boy vampire and half of a non-smiling-if-supernaturally-attractive couple, so much fame and exposure while he is still growing as an actor.

But of course we all do this. See the negative magnified whilst we ignore the positive.

The same day I received my NWS report. Eight pages of carefully thought out analysis, suggestion and feedback on my latest WIP. Now last year I sent in a book finished at the last moment, not planned out and edited as I went. I wasn't expecting much. To my amazement I got a second reading, fast tracked to an editor at M&B and I have suggestions from that editor as to how to strengthen the book. Amazing. Of course the words that I remember most from all the feedback I have received on that book are words I intend to have inscribed on my gravestone: Cosy, trite and predictable. This from a reader who said many, many other wonderful things - but these are the words I remember. Rob and I have a lot in common, sadly not our bank balances.

So when I set out to write Minty I wanted to learn from my previous experience, make her book lighter, flirtier, fun. Include a strong internal conflict backed up my a strong external conflict. I planned a three act structure, I wrote it, rewrote and edited again. Most dangerously of all I was pleased with it.  So of course I didn't get a second reading. I got eight pages pointing out all I missed, the book's many, many weaknesses.

Now I know that someone has spent a great deal of time and effort helping me to be a better writer I know they wouldn't have done so if they didn't think I had potential and I am grateful. Only, it stung. Stung so much that I shed tears, dramatically declaimed my intention to never write again and I wallowed, like a hippopotamus in a nice mud bath. Wallowed shamefully.

And I am ashamed.

But wallowing has it's uses. By indulging, just for a day, I got all that negative thinking out, poured it out in tears and whining and general patheticness, so when I face that report again I can look at it objectively, use it the way the reader intended to make my book better, make it the best it can be. As I explained to my eight year old wallowing is important. As long as it lasts less than twenty four hours.

The Power of Four

Something lighthearted to cheer up what was a very shameful post. The very talented Lindsay J Pryor (not once but twice a New Voices finalist) tagged me in this...

Four places I have worked

1. Scarborough seafront selling rock from under a sign that said 'Cheapest on the front'. Not at all humiliating.
2. Little Chef on Romney Marsh, in those days we wore A-line dresses and cloths on our head, they were very attractive. Film director Derek Jarman used to come in for an all day breakfast with many very handsome young men, while I wore a cloth on my head. Again, not at all humiliating.
3. Waterstones. Happy, happy days.
4. I spent a year as an au-pair in Connecticut, one of the best years of my life.

I have had proper grown up jobs too, honestly...

Four films I could watch over and over again

1. Last of the Mohicans. 'I will find you...'
2. While you were sleeping.. The perfect Romcom (I would link to a post on this very matter but am not sure how too...)
3. North by Northwest - Cary Grant (yum), a chase film and classic train-in-a-tunnel metaphors
4. The Breakfast Club because I HAVE watched it over and over again...

Four telly programmes...

1. Buffy. Best Programme Ever.  How I miss Buffy...
2. My So-Called Life. Jordan Cataloano *deep sigh* when 8yo is 12 I will watch this with her and have a frank discussion about boys, booze and drugs and how even uptight mothers need a break sometimes.
3. The West Wing. Why is the world not really run by Bartlett. Why?
4. Anything Danish. How can I choose between Borgen, The Killing and The Bridge, how? Not Those Who Kill though, that was one depressing show.

Four authors I enjoy

1. Diana Wynne Jones - so so talented and thankfully prolific. If you didn't read her as a kid do now. Howl and Chrestomanci were early crushes (okay, they still are).
2. Georgette Heyer- not without the snobbery and racism common to many 1930s writers but the reason I want to write romance
3. Judith Kerr - the day I realised that the heroine of When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit grew up to write Mog and The Tiger who Came to Tea I nearly cried with happiness. I wholeheartedly recommend Goodbye Mog to any parent who needs to explain death to a child, it helped 8yo (and me) through the death of my beloved Nana.
4. Patrick Ness - Chaos Walking trilogy is a modern Young Adult classic. Profound, moving and ultra readable

Of course there are also numerous category romance writers; Jessica Hart, Fiona Harper, Liz Fielding, Megan Crane, Julie Cohen etc who inspire me!

Four places I have travelled to

1. The US especially New England *dreams of house on Cape Cod and apartment in Boston*
2. Italy - my favourite country I think, couldn't pick a favourite part though
3. St. Petersburg
4 Prague

My new Danish obsession means I now long to go to Copengagen...

Four websites I visit daily

Oh I am so sad...

1. Twitter. Obsessed
2. Facebook to hang out with my Crit group
3. The Guardian so I can get depressed by current affairs
4. Amazon, got to keep the Kindle stocked up!

Four favourite foods

1. Cheese on toast. White bread, cheese almost burnt. Yum.
2. Ice cream, it's a bit of an addiction
3. A perfect, juicy, crisp apple. Powdery specimans will not be tolerated.
4. Wine. Not a food but definitely a favourite

Four places I'd rather be

1. Cornwall, in my dream cottage overlooking the sea
2. Sorrento, sipping a limoncello in the town square
3. Copenhagen of course!
4. On holiday, anyway as long as the sun's shining,

Four people I'd like to tag

1. Julia Broadbooks
2. Karina Buchanan
3. Catherine Coles
4. Amalie Berlin


Alison said...

All I'm going to say is, that if we allow someone to read our work it's tough.

These are our babies, so we are allowed a short whine and wallow and then get to crack on making them work! x

lindsayjpryor said...

It's no good - despite your pleas to the contrary, I read the self-indulgent, pathetic whininess. ;-) It stung, you cried, you wallowed and then you scraped the mud off. Nothing to hang your head in shame about there. If we don't care about what we write, why bother? Getting upset shows it matters to you. Getting back on with it shows just how much it matters to you. This was a great post. And thanks so much for joining in with the fun of The Power of Four. The Breakfast Club - love that film. The one with Molly Ringwald, right? A fab read. And thanks for what you said about me. So kind. x

Morton S Gray said...

Hi, I'm struggling to complete my NWS manuscript, but your post has inspired me! Maybe I need to let it go for reading before I squeeze out all the original creative spark with editing.

I decide I'm not going to write any more weekly, so join the club.

Loved your Power of Four list. Pick up that manuscript and dust. It will happen. Mx