Sunday, 9 September 2012

Small Finds - two novels and a headache

The Writers' Workshop, York Festival of Writing 2012. webpage

Of course, I was absurdly over-optimistic.
I knew, deep down. 
It was a flicker on the gauges. Nothing more. It caught at the corner of my eye but I had other things to do.

Then the cracks began to appear and were politely pointed out.

At the York Festival of Writing, this is the process known as the "one-to-ones". The Bookdoc or Agent (prestigious people all) have a couple of weeks to take a look at the chapter you submitted a month or two before; the first chapter of your book. Then, at the Festival, you have ten minutes to defend it - i.e. to receive their response face to face. The Bookdoc also gave me a feedback form, a summary of the response, to take away with me and ... well, read at my leisure.

This is when you need to take a step back.
Objective distance is necessary but, on the York University campus, this means standing not too close to the edge of the lake.
Such books now seem to need some really strong or distinctive edge
OK. I can live with that. 
But ...
I did wonder if the archaeology would be more of a setting
Me too. It was only the first chapter. 
But, even more to the point ...
It feels as if we have two stories ... that might need working out a little.
Ah. Now we're getting somewhere. Gauges flicker.

One Agent, on Saturday, said: "Where's the archaeology?"
The other Agent, on Sunday, said: "Where's the crime?"
Harry Bingham said: The Art of the Pause.
It was interesting.

The Sunday one-to-one fell in the middle of Harry Bingham's workshop The Art of the Pause in which Harry invited us to consider the last three paragraphs of the first chapter of the book The City & The City by China Mieville. This was interesting in itself because my Saturday Agent had suggested that I might want to read this book. That's the sort of coincidence I notice. The gauges were flickering.
Returning to Harry's workshop after twenty five minutes, I remembered how Harry had said that China Mieville set up 'The Pause' with one enigmatic sentence:
With a hard start, I realised that she was not on GunterStrasz at all, and that I should not have seen her.
This, apparently (I must read the book), is never explained. The technique, Harry said, was to set up the pause and then do nothing. Never explain.

Where's the archaeology?
Where's the crime?
Come on, Gentlemen. That's the tease. That's the pause.

Foolish optimism was returning. I knew what I was doing. No, I didn't, but I saw there was the possibility that I might, eventually. 
The gauges were flickering. 

All was not well - I might have to break it up, rewrite it, re imagine it, them, however many there might turn out to be (the novels were breeding like mice in my imagination) - but that was alright. I could do it. Just think. I could have a cheap and cheerful police procedural self-published with Amazon for Kindle and a literary novel provoking questions like "Where's the archaeology?" or "Where's the crime?"
Quids in. Hey! Or, as they say, the pennies.

I must go and take a proper long look at those gauges.

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