You don’t mind if I talk to myself a little this evening, do you? I seem to be going over a lot of old ground at the moment. First of all I’m revisiting my novel Push Hands and putting it up on Wattpad. I’m doing this primarily for myself, but it’s attracting a few new readers, and that’s always a plus. Push hands was first published in 2008 on Feedbooks. It’s since seen many revisions – by this I mean a periodic sweep for typos and other glitches. You’d think in all that time I would have captured every mistake, groomed and polished the text to a pristine print quality, but I haven’t. I’m still finding typos.
I’ve redesigned the cover-pic, which is always fun, and I’m putting up a couple of chapters at a time. It gives me the opportunity to make a leisurely run through the text, to enjoy it again, revisiting the characters, and to make corrections of course. I suppose the danger comes when I decide to add stuff, when I decide I don’t really like the way I said a thing back then, or if a fresh thought strikes me as apposite, and fits at the end of that paragraph, and away we go, adding in more typos along with the fresh insights.
My story Sunita was picked up by a reviewer who said generally kind things about it, though adding that the story was more riddled with typos than usual, even for a self published text. I’m not surprised. I only put that one up last year. I’ve decades of revision ahead of me yet with Sunita, but it gives me the opportunity to revisit her too, and to fall in love with her all over again. I suppose that’s it, more than anything, as a romantic writer, I enjoy revisiting my muses, seeing if I’ve missed anything they wanted to tell me the first time around.
Other old ground comes with my “new” work – Sea of Words, also on Wattpad – being a collection of thoughts on writing that I’ve snatched from my blog. And in similar vein I’ve put up a short work on men’s mental health, a subject I can speak with some experience on. All of this allows me time to back pedal on the subject of actually writing fresh stuff, of making new routes through the still largely undiscovered country that is my fifty five year old vintage self.
The Sea View Cafe, my current work in progress, is steering its way into dangerous and muddy territory. The two main female protagonists have begun flirting around the edges of a love affair – with each other – while the villain is squelching off through the quagmire of his own murky business, a business that seems now increasingly tangential to the plot. I trust he’ll surprise me in the end and help me pull off a rounded and plausible denouement. Meanwhile the hero is burning his bridges somewhere else, possibly to return to find himself betrayed in love by the two women who mean most to him, when they get it on together instead of one of them with him.
But will this really work? I don’t know yet.
Any of these developments can drive the story onto the treacherous rocks of improbaility, and I must decide whether to trust in the writing process and give the unconscious free rein to plot a course wherever the hell it likes, or to consciously intervene and say: Woa,… hang on a minute!
I’ve had trouble with my women before in this respect. (Lavender and the Rose) I don’t think it’s prurience on my part (think girl on girl porn). When I identify strongly with a female character I inevitably do so as a man and therefore introduce by default a bi-sexuality into the mix. I am drawn romantically, and sexually to women, therefore my heroines run the risk of being drawn the same. Maybe I’m just no good at writing a convincing female character, and my challenge is to have one fall plausibly in love with a man and tell me why.
The female protagonists in Lavender and the Rose fell for one another. I resisted it for a long time, pulling the plug on the story again and again, but the story had a momentum of its own and wanted its conclusion in that direction, so I finally let them get on with it. I have no objection to women falling in love with women of course, my only concern is that a male writer attempting to portray such a thing with nothing but his imagination to go on had better be very careful, and I didn’t want to run the risk a second time.
The Sea View seems to be about healing through love and trust and friendship, and the quest for enlightenment through a return to simplicity. They are, admittedly, things I, as a lone misanthrope in thrall to consumerism and flighty little open top roadsters, have little experience of, and probably much to learn from. It’s wish fulfilment then, this old ground, and my stories are a path worn into a deep groove, one I am unable to climb out of, thus I am bound to revisit the same themes, the same plot twists over and over, until I find one that allows me to transcend my decades old paradigm.
Perhaps I should be less self-analytical in my stories – try a simple Werewolf fan-fic next? But then I am not familiar with such territory, and a writer had better stick to the labyrinth he knows, hoping to one day pick up on that passage he’s overlooked. Then he can finally level up and move on.
Thanks for listening.