It has been a very productive few weeks. It seems to me I have zipped along from just having finished part One of this re-write to today finishing part Three. This means I only have 12 more chapters to re-read, correct and check. And about 2 new pieces to insert into the holes I have already found.
This also means that I need to start thinking again about what I am going to do with the manuscript once I have finished these re-writes. I am working off the inputs of a couple of readers from South African publishing houses, my friend Marc Pienaar and my own critical re-read of the manuscript. The book as a whole feels tighter and more coherent tome now. But I have no way of knowing if it is in a state to be published as yet.
I am toying with the idea of hiring an editor to work with me on a final tune up and edit…. Or maybe just a very critical read with extensive notes. I am not sure. I need to figure that out because, if I am done with re-writing for now, I need to think about getting it out there. Time to find an agent? A publisher? Or do I just dive into publishing this baby myself?
So far this book has taken nearly 5 years to get to this point. I doubt the next one will take as long. I have learnt so much along the way. But still… I now need to decide what to do next. Anyone know a good editor? I need a thorough critical read is my instinct, before I go agent hunting again… I definitely went off half-cocked last time.
Be nice to hear what you guys reading this think! Should I just self-publish and be damned? I am awful tempted. Formal feedback has been that my book falls into the ‘Literary Fiction’ category and they all feel this category is struggling…It’s not like I haven’t floated big boats on my own before!
My dilemma neatly mirrors that of Wilfred, my conscientious objector character as he starts to think some disturbing things about HIS situation.
“Sighing, Wilfred closes the journal and instead stares out into his garden. It is staying light longer. The seasons are getting ready to change. Soon it will be spring and the city will be transformed from this icy grey and brown wasteland to a riot of colour and a million hues of green. Will his thinking similarly emerge from the cocoon of cold, bleak thought with new vigour to encompass his world view? Can he survive another winter if it does not? Or will he gather strength from each down season as he goes? The words on today’s page petered out, as they have repeatedly done in the last two months, before his thinking became too involved. He cannot think like this and write. It seems… forced. As if that matters, as if this was ever written in order to be read by eyes other than his own.
He pages back and sees days of writing that reach no conclusion, that nothing in the book mirrors what he is thinking. He realises that the journal has literally been showing him where his head was at all along, but that he was trying not to see. He settles back down into the chair, ignoring the garden beyond. To sum up the half-formed thoughts of the preceding writings, he needs to express this notion of having survived as he was intact. The sense of discomfort arises from having survived the trial of fire not because of his strength of character, or purpose of belief, but rather because of the advantages that he already held. This is the challenge of modern South African life. To be who you are, with what you have and to deploy it in your life with honesty and purpose. The talks are neither of those things. He is meandering.
As the sun slowly sets and the light dims, Wilfred writes feverishly in his journal, completing those half-formed thoughts and ideas, summing up his winter of strange action and self-doubt. The chill of winter is lifting and it is not until it is quite dark that he realises he can no longer really see what he is writing and that the garden beyond his window is wrapped in pitch black. He rises from his chair, stretching stiffly and walks into the kitchen where he switches on the kettle, fishes out a tea bag and a mug and prepares a cup of tea. When he flicks on the light to better judge the milk he pours, he blinks and squints in the sudden light. Summer is coming, he thinks, I need to buy some new sunglasses.”
From the novel “Johannesburg”
©2013 David Chislett