My Lonely Manuscripts

on June 25, 2012 in Misc

This weekend it was too hot to do anything but write.

Sure, I recently told you guys I’d be doing some fun Layla-style antiquity hunting (most likely of the unsuccessful variety) on my summer weekends. But that was before we broke a record here in Colorado for the hottest June on record.  More than 100 degrees for several days now.  And I don’t have air conditioning in my car.

But hey, I am SO LUCKY compared to some people in the state.  You’ve probably seen the news reports about the forest fires here.  Well, over the weekend a couple of them got worse and now a few hundred homes are gone.  So if the worst thing that happens to me is I have to stay in town and write and edit and see a movie (The Avengers, which was kinda fun), then life is easy for me.

Can’t remember if I’ve mentioned before now the two manuscripts I’m getting into final shape for self-publishing.  There’s the original novel (Charity MacCay and the Almighty Dollar) and the sequel, and both are fun historical romps (1867-1869).  I also wrote both of them before turning out The Compass Master.  Funny thing is, they mean more to me than Compass, but hey, it’s still my baby and I’m proud of it and I want everyone who reads it to really enjoy it. Cause don’t we all want that for our books?

So when a couple friends and my Mom (my own mother!) tell me they really prefer Charity to Compass, I’m hurt.  Then again,when a friend and a sister couldn’t be bothered with even picking up Charity, but the friend said she loved Compass and was a real cheerleader for it, I’m grateful but still hurt for Charity.

As a writer, I take all of this way too personally. And neurotically.

So how about you?  Do you have favorite manuscripts or other stories buried in a sock drawer that only you love? How about a novel you wrote straight from your heart and soul but all it receives are emails of rejection?


10 Responses to “My Lonely Manuscripts”

  1. We didn’t hit a hundred here, but it’s been humid.
    My first book will always be a favorite because it was a story that had been with me since I was a teenager. But I’m happy to hear people say they like the second one better. I mean, dear Lord, I hope my writing improved from the first book to the second!

  2. Helena says:

    Alex – My first “novel” was something I wrote in college. I have since burned it, driven a wooden stake through its heart, and cursed it so that it would never again see the light of day. It deserved as much. Since then, my writing has improved. I think my first Charity book is my fifth or sixth manuscript, and the experience is more obvious.

  3. I have four other novels on my computer that I completed that I really haven’t shown anyone. I don’t know if I ever will. They are good practice. One is a fantasy which I may try to market someday just because a lot of guys read fantasy (it’s the romance genre for men). I’ve thought about spicing up the stories and just posting them to an internet writing/porn site I found that has a ton of traffic. I figure if people liked my erotic writing then they might go looking for something more tame and seek out the published stuff.

    I’m sorry you don’t have a car with air conditioning. I love that I do even if it’s 13 years old. It’s just nice to have in the summertime when the hot wind is blowing.

    I’m a quarter of the way through with Compass Master. I have to say Helena, I’m blown away by your research. All the book of revelations stuff and observations you’ve pointed out with the reoccurring sevens is fascinating stuff. Layla is an incredible protagonist and is so sexy because her mind is so keen (I tend to find smart characters as very attractive). The layers of mystery you are building in your narrative feel like peeling an onion. I’m discovering new things as layer after layer comes loose in my fingers…not quite certain what I will see in the center.

  4. Helena says:

    Michael — OMG MICHAEL I LOVE YOU! And yes, that’s my normal reaction to people who have good things to say about my book, but you are especially articulate about it. In the near future I’ll be doing the same right back at you about Slipstream.

    And I’m especially glad you like Layla because lately I’ve been having doubts. I’ve been reading old Modesty Blaise stuff and am so impressed with her background/development as a character that I wonder if I should have “dirtied up” Layla. This is because Modesty has a refugee/criminal background which really is fascinating. But if Layla works for you, then I’m happy.

    Considering the out-of-control success of Shades of Grey, you probably couldn’t go wrong spicing up past stories and posting them on a popular porn site, because you’re right about how this might lead readers to Slipstream and more. Your earlier novels must have solid good stuff in them if you want to rewrite or post them. I have a few manuscripts I’d rather see thrown in a bonfire.

  5. Ciara Knight says:

    I think we all of books hidden under our bed. My first is still there. I definitely struggled with people’s comments in the beginning, but I’ve adapted better now. I hope to continue growing and keeping an open mind to constructive criticism.

  6. Helena says:

    Ciara – Constructive criticism really is helpful, but even then I can sometimes feel like curling up into a fetal position. What I especially appreciate is when the criticism is specific so that I can figure out how to fix the problem.

  7. Robert L. Read says:

    I ain’t got no books, but I have some stories.

    I went to a writing critiquing circle for a few years, and it made me aware of how lousy my writing was, and how far it still has to go to achieve the vaunted status of mediocrity.

    However, even more importantly, it made me realize that although there is a dimension of “quality” there people often mistake a lack of resonance with the material for a lack of quality. In my circle some people were really vicious that way—if they didn’t like stories about dragons, there wasn’t anyone who could write a dragon story they would like. Personally I worked very hard to try to see the value in everything—which made me a bit of creampuff reviewer. Sometimes I would just right on there “This is not my cup of tea” and leave it at that. For example, I can’t get into the crime genre at all. The key to critiquing is not to make the author write it the way you would write it, but make them write it more they way want to write it.

  8. Helena says:

    Robert – I’ve read two of your stories, and believe me you’re way above mediocrity. But you’re right about some critique folks not liking someone’s work simply because they don’t like the entire genre. So good for you for being honest and saying something just wasn’t right for you. Sounds as if some of the people in your group were jealous or hostile to begin with.

    I’ve had the bad experience of a relative with an ax to grind reading my first “Charity” book; she completely ripped it and even complained that my historical facts were wrong when she has never read a single book on the period. Then she sent me a 40-year-old godawful romance novel (there are good ones; this one stunk) as an example of how to write a book.

    Sounds like you and I both can be tough on ourselves and our writing, but we’ve also encountered unreasonable critics.

  9. Old Kitty says:

    Glad you are safe with all that’s going on in Colorado. I pray for rain to go over there!

    Awwww family are ther worst for reading one’s stories! LOL!! I think my mum is yet to read one of mine! LOL! Seriously! But I’m sort of happy in a way as I’d hate to think what she’d make of it all!

    Awwww of course you love your babies!! ALL your babies!!! Equally!!! Take care

  10. Helena says:

    Old Kitty – That’s really too bad about your mum. I’m lucky my own Mum is so supportive. It was one sister who was over the top nasty, but she doesn’t get along with anyone. And right back at you with the good thoughts.