Wednesday, March 25, 2015

If I Had My Druthers

Please accept my apologies for a late post from Monday ...

Monday mornings that start off rolling are the best beginning for a work week. I had a mental note or two coming in, only a minor glitch or two firing up, and a good, solid four hours of steady work to keep me going in the a.m. There were also two fresh new rejections (both of them expected, so the sting was minor); one on a query sent only yesterday, and one only a couple or three weeks old.


I honestly wonder, as I consider shelving (as distinct from “drawering”, which would imply entirely giving up hope) Ax____, whether it is right or wrong to do so. It’s hard to be open to the possibility of putting away a work I know is GOOD, even if I have begun to consider that it may not be the work that can launch my second career, but I am trying to allow the idea to be … okay. At the same time, yes, querying is a numbers game and this could just be my origin myth, the tale of the super-author in the making, the cred that makes my own arc as worthwhile as (insert respected/much-rejected author’s name here) – and as Clovis’ own.

That latter is tempting, and honestly I would hardly stop to think about “quitting” (for NOW) on Ax, except that … I feel like I’ve run out of lists to plunder, research resources to take advantage of. Options. I feel like I’ve queried every agent who even mentions histfic without dotting their eyes with little Regency romance hearts or … yeah, mentioning that it’d be nice to see something other than some white European king for a change.

Hilary Mantel did spectacularly well with Wolf Hall and Bringing up the Bodies, but … Hilary Mantel also wasn’t a debut novelist in the first place, and was writing and publishing on a different continent from my own in the second place. She had twenty years’ catalog of performance behind her. She also found a way to write about the perennially-blockbuster Tudors without quite treading old ground. And now she also has TWO Man-Booker prizes to her credit.

Not a platform I can claim to stand on. Though I’ve got a story that not only doesn’t tread old ground, but illuminates a huge swath of the history of the West *and* even some of the very reasons #WeNeedDiverseBooks today, it isn’t. Diverse. And nobody’s heard of Clovis I on this side of The Pond (a *selling* point that gets in its own way, Catch-22 style [an appropriate problem for an author named Major?]). It’s not MG, YA, or NA; there isn’t a single dragon, pneumatic beauty, or magically-engendered neurosis in it. Game of Thrones readers might dig it, but I’m not comping that and don’t have compelling plans to garner that audience nor proof I could.

And but.

And but.

And but.

Ten years I’ve spent with this novel, now. Learning from it and LOVING it, though that may not shine through given my dry and pragmatic statements about killing darlings and it being a product and oh-so-professional detachment. I LOVE Ax and the Vase, it has been both one hell of a good story to be part of, and iet means the world to me. It is a manifestation of something my dad talked about all his life (“somebody should write a book” was a stock phrase in my house growing up), and he died before I ever began to write. I have no doubt he’s rooting for it, and there is a minor, sentimental strain in wishing I could publish a book I know he’d probably have enjoyed immensely on its own merits … and been inexperessibly proud to know I wrote. (Heck, at that, half the dead folks in my family would probably like this book; those who have gone before me gave me the very voice in which it’s expressed, after all.)

I am to this day entranced by the story, to the point that actually feeling it’s ready, it’s finished, is still exciting – just to know I have done this thing, that I made it, I have something to do with something this great.

I’m proud of my work.

Even if I let it go for now, there’s no doubt I’d try to get it out there as a follow up. (It is a prequel of sorts to the WIP; they are as unalike as they are inextricably linked.)

Lord, just thinking and writing about it, I gnash and resist with a fury the idea there’s no agent out there who could (… who would …) do anything with this book. It’s a bloody good read, it’s a ripping yarn.

If only I could find some hidden stash, somewhere else to turn.

In the meantime, I must turn to the WIP. If I have missed some dozens of agents who would do my work proud, somehow or other I’ll find ‘em – and beware, agents.

This isn’t quitting. I’m just turning slightly to one side … for the moment …

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