I spent most of yesterday crying, until a large bubble of snot formed in my nostril.
I wanted to be a child again and not a 35-year-old woman. As a child, I could have thrown myself on the floor and had a proper tantrum, bawling, kicking, red-in-the-face, the whole enchilada. It’s really not appropriate for a woman of my age to engage in such behaviour. Since I was at work my colleagues may not have appreciated such an exhibition. Or maybe they would have?
The reason for my wobbly? My first novel, completed two years ago has been rejected again. The novel is a lesbian love story so I submitted it to an LGBT publisher. I did get some feedback which makes a pleasant change. I usually just get a boiler plate ta but naw email.
At first the feedback puzzled me:
Though it showed promise, I keenly felt Nat’s lack of autonomy. Nat’s narrative is so dependent on her love interests that she herself is lost. She is the protagonist and so must be the driving force behind the story even when battered by external problems. It might be worth it to explore third person instead–perhaps an objective perspective would suit the narrative better.
The novel is my baby and I got really upset. I love it and I just want someone to want it, hold it, kiss it, nourish it and love it as much as I do.
I didn’t actually cry all day I had a blubber for ten minutes and glared angrily and muttered under my breath for the rest of the day.
I took a step back and a few deep breaths and let the old cogs in my brain work. Sometimes they get a little rusty.
I took out the manuscript of my novel (well, opened the word document) and had a look through it and I finally had a light-bulb moment.
The narrative is in the first person.
I realised I’ve fallen into the first person narrative curse. This can happen when the narrative becomes rather one-sided. Sometimes this works and I’ve read some great first person novels. I’ve also read some when it doesn’t work because the narrator comes across as selfish or indulgent or overly isolated.
Unfortunately, this has happened with my novel.
There are no sub-plots, just the narrator recounting what’s happened and the impact it has no her. The other characters are just background props.
The good thing is that I was able to take this feedback and realise what was missing from the novel.
The bad thing is it’s going to take a lot of work to make it publishable.
In short, I need to do the following:
- Change the narrative point of view
- Introduce sub-plots for the main character
- Include the point of view of other character’s involved in the life of my main character
Some random ideas kicking about inside my head:
- Third person viewpoint
- Multiple first person viewpoints
- Introduce some back story of the woman who kills herself, her motivations etc. and also some stuff that was happening in her life when they were teenage lovers
- Introduce some back story of the main character’s love interests
- I also need to change the title as The Other Side of Me probably won’t fit
I won’t be doing this for a while as I’m plotting my new crime novel, Into The Darkest Places. I want to focus on this and writing the first draft.
I really will sob and have a tantrum if I start working on The Other Side Of Me just now. I will return to this after the first draft of Into The Darkest Places is done. That won’t be for 4-6 months.
I will make some notes about what I want to revisit.
Every day is a learning curve.