Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A Touch of Transparency; or What a Blog is For

I've been regaling, or boring you for the past three years with this blog. I wonder what you can surmise about me and my work from its contents.
What I've also been wondering of late is why I have this neurotic compulsion to be secretive about my writing. I've even been quite secretive about this blog in the past. For the first year I never told anyone I knew that I was a blogger.
Perhaps what is pushing me toward greater transparency is my realization that I really want to launch my writing career and that my blog might be a helpful tool in this regard. I should talk about my writing, share excerpts from it, get feedback. I can get rather phobic about people reading my unedited work (or even my edited work) and it needs to stop. This year I took a major step by letting my professor read my extremely rough manuscript and I found it to be a rewarding growth experience.
She didn't rip me to shreds. She realized that the piece was in its early stages. Instead she gave me enthusiastic feedback and support. I realize this is the internet and that there are plenty of people who have nothing more fulfilling to do with their time than criticize and wound, but the people who have opinions that actually matter aren't here to do that.
So here I am, about to do my last semester at college. I've just set down my mystery manuscript after a round of major revisions. I'm realizing that it is a hard book to boil down to a query letter. I'm trying to give myself some distance from the project, hoping it will be easier for me to be objective about if it's not so fresh in mind.
Instead of stagnating though, I'm starting work on a new project. I suppose that the secret to my eventual success is, quite simply, that I'm always working on something. I'm writing a poem or a short story. I'm outlining a sequel or drafting a new novel. It's all the honing of a craft. Working on characterization in a short story can help me realize why the motivation feels forced in my novel. Playing with language and description in a poem lets me practice developing a sense of atmosphere.
In the midst of all my course work I wrote four chapters of a new novel this week. It's going to be an Oxford story. And maybe I don't have the right to attempt to follow in the footsteps of Evelyn Waugh or Dorothy Sayers, or Philip Larkin, but Oxford lends itself to stories. I couldn't help but start forming ideas while I was there, and recent conversations with friends I met there has assured me that this is a story I need to write.
I'm trying to write the kind of book I love to read.


  1. "I'm trying to write the kind of book I love to read." That's the best reason for writing, in't it?

    I'm glad you feel courageous enough to share - it's a huge step. I'm actually a lot like you. Or the past you. I'm still quite secretive about my own blog and don't share my writing as often as I should, either.

    I haven't been following your blog for that long so, but from what little I've read I'd definitely love to read any excerpts you might have. And I think your idea for an Oxford story is great. You obviously felt very strongly about it and, for a writer, that can only lend itself to writing. I don't think we should shy simply because the literary greats attempted it before we did ;)

  2. Really glad to hear your professor was supportive. Good luck, and I'd love to hear more about your Oxford story!

    (Also stopping by just to say hi. Have you been following the Richard Armitage/Hobbit stuff?)

  3. Thanks for your support Lady Disdain. Chaucer said, "Life is so short, the craft so long to learn," and I definitely connect! I'm sure we all do.

    So nice to hear from you Kate! I'll be workings on the story more once I begin my school holidays.
    I have seen some of the posters and heard a recording of him singing a piece for the film. I'm very impressed by his voice, and by how attractive he still is in spite of his hairy costume.

  4. Oh, yeah, he is. If you have time to stop by the RH board, there are some pictures of myself and another board member in front of the giant Hobbit billboard in Times Square, starting here (and on the next page).

    Good luck with the story, and do hope to see you back on the board once in a while!