Sunday, 30 January 2011

You win some, you lose some...

Still working on my adult book, which is why I'm not blogging enough to be an even vaguely respectable blogger. The plan was to finish the first draft by the end of the month (well, s'pose it still is, in theory) and then send it off to someone my agent knows. I thought it was all going well... but then my mother read it.

My mother, I should add, is a Real Writer and also a real-life salaried Creative Writing teacher, so I do tend to take notice of what she says. And what she said was, 'It's brilliant, darling!'

I was quite pleased, until it turned out that we were talking at complete cross-purposes. Unfortunately what she thought was happening in the book actually wasn't, and it was much more ordinary and predictable than that - so ordinary and predictable that she thought something else had to be happening, or why would anyone even bother? So, not brilliant at all, then. Actually rather boring.

The thing about feedback is that it has to make sense to you, the writer, before you can even begin to do something about it. Now, I don't think I'm being defensive, and I pride myself on taking feedback well, not arguing, just letting it sink in... but I just don't get it... leaving me floundering, because does this mean my judgement is so wildly off-the-wall that what I thought was the first draft of something quite promising is actually utterly conventional and insubstantial? And if so, what am I supposed to do about it?

On the plus side, I did have a nice review in the Guardian for Tyme's End. If not the effusive, gushing, fulsome eulogy that I was expecting, and is, frankly, only my due.

What do you mean, my judgement clearly is impaired?

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Back from France, back to work...

The title says it all, really. I spent New Year in France, and now I'm back - 20,000 words to go on the novel, which is nothing, really, so I hope to finish it before the end of the month. Ha.

So today and tomorrow are the last days of my holiday, and I'm acclimatising. Which means doing some laundry, fiddling about on my computer, and googling myself. NEVER google yourself. It's like eavesdropping. It's invariably depressing. If someone says something nice about you, you'll get to hear about it. If not... well, better left unread, I'd say.

What is worse is that I discovered, quite by accident, that my publishers have published a book about the Children's Crusade this January.

To understand why this is an issue, the backstory you need to know is: I wrote a book about the Children's Crusade two or three years ago, which was meant to be the next book after A Trick of the Dark. Except that Bloomsbury explained that it would be much better to sit on it until 2012, which is the 800th anniversary, and so I ended up writing Tyme's End for the same deadline. They agreed that it would come out early in 2012, so that it would be the first in a possible spate, not just another Children's Crusade book. (See where I'm going with this one?)

Now, there may be very good reasons why Linda Press Wulf's book won't make any difference to mine, and looking at the blurb it looks very different (and good, incidentally - I'm definitely going to read it), and maybe it's better to be published in the anniversary year than just before. But what bothers me - really bothers me - is that no one even mentioned it. Not in an email, not formally - which is OK, I understand that editors and publishers simply don't have time to keep writers posted on every little detail - but not even at the Christmas party, for example, when I was talking about the Children's Crusade and it might have come up quite naturally in conversation...

OK, maybe I'm getting paranoid. No, I am paranoid. But all the same - am I being unreasonable? I don't think so. Maybe because I'm paranoid...

This is why you should never google yourself. Or anyone else, for that matter. Moral of the story: just get on with your work, for heaven's sake.