Sunday, January 20, 2013

What doesn't kill you

That old cliche. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

Well I am not dead quite yet.

I may not be ready to face the work for a while, but till then I will read Ondaatje. I have taken on what you said about voice. I don't think I can change my voice. I think voice is as unique as a fingerprint and my strength has been the clarity of that print. But  I can go back to Ondaatje. This is where I began. A kindred soul. I will go back. One day, maybe I will write again. Till then, poetry.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Post from under my bed

So there will be reviews. People will read this thing.Why can't I feel just as I felt a few weeks ago when I loved this book. Why do I feel more naked now than I could ever be without clothes on. Why do I feel like I will never write something beautiful.

I take the books out of the shelf, the ones I love, other people's perfect gems. I arrange them next to my bed like something stolen and exquisite. And beside them I am nothing. Beside them my book is temporary and not made to last the distance.

He tells me my voice is 'samey'. He tells me I write too fast. All the passion that is there on the page escapes him because, I fear he is incapable of seeing passion. Still, I have no core. I am empty of heart. Inside is a hollow place that bad reviews tear through, making a noise like a little hum.

I will not read the reviews and this is why. The bad ones will beat at me like blunt instruments. The good ones I will not believe. I have nothing to hold me up through the next few months.

If you need me I'll be under the bed.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Your good eye

People will say nice things about your book. Sometimes their enthusiasm may surprise you. Surely it isn't as great as their enthusiasm for it. Well, no. It isn't. You knew it was ok. Good. Not great. But ok. It was ok enough for a pubisher to take it on. Good enough for you to let go of the constant, ego-shattering re-working. Good enough for others to spend their money on it and to read it. And some people really liked it a lot, but most had reservations.  You won't hear about these reservations. It is too late. It is done. What point is there for someone to tell you that it lags a bit in the middle, or that the beginning is a bit tedious, that the characters are not fully realised. It is done. There is nothing you can do about it.

The rare friend who will be honest may shatter your composure. You were, after all receiving nothing but praise. What does that friend know? Has he ever written a book? Even if he has, was it any good? Was it perfect? No. And maybe the feedback is misguided. Only you will know, because deep down, you know this book is not perfect, not even close to it. You may be fond of it but your next book will be better, and the one after will be better still. If that tactless friend was right about the glaring holes that somehow you and your editor overlooked, then he is a very valuable friend indeed.

You, my friend, are valuable.

It is an ok book. Maybe it is a good book, but your feedback would have made it a better book. If you had given me this feedback even six months ago I could have done something wonderful with it. I have always respected you for your good eye.

I have a good eye too. I knew there was something wrong with the book despite the excitement of my early readers. I spotted the problem but I was too close to see it. I see the holes in your own work which is also good. Very good. But not great. I am your good eye and you are mine.

The book is forever. It is stuck in print, frozen in time. It will never be better, and each year I am trudging closer to my grave. You were a useful tool just out of my reach. You were my good eye, rolled away from my fingers and stuck there, staring back at me.

Next time. Please. Next time.

I will hear a lot of praise from a lot of people who read this book. Behind my back they will tell each other their reservations. Maybe some of them will also have a good eye but I don't know it because they never tell me what they see.

Next time. It isn't too late for the next book. Next time. Please. Lend me your eye in good time.