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Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Paper Cups of Words

Almost Easter already and how much progress have my writing plans made? As far as the novel is concerned, they're still in the same place!

I'm waiting for further news, but not holding my breath. So far, the feedback is generally the same: the writing itself is all right, but there is no market for this book. It's a simple road trip: an English family in a car heading towards divided Berlin. In common with their destination, the car is filled with tension. There is a xenophobic grandmother, a father on the point of a nervous breakdown and even a brief appearance by a guinea-pig in a tutu. There is a Cold War, but no spies. Just a family spilling secrets and sharing sorrows. Plus some irreverent humour.

I enjoyed writing it more than I could ever describe and remain timidly hopeful, but definitely not expectant. That way, I won't be disappointed if it stays unpublished. (Who am I trying to kid?) Anyway, if I consign it to the What Might Have Been pile, it was still a wonderful trip.

In the meantime, I'm free to start the next one, for which I'm trying a different method. I've written the synopsis first this time, hoping to ensure the pace won't sag and the structure is sound. These are the main issues for me with writing novels, rather than short fiction. Juggling the comparatively enormous number of scenes and characters is quite overwhelming. I returned to short stories recently and enjoyed the novelty of a smaller cast. And having eight - instead of eighty - thousand words was blissful.

My short story news is going to wait for the next post, which hopefully won't take so long this time.

For some reason, I'm thinking about these lines from the Beatles' 'Across the Universe':

'Words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup.
They slither wildly as they slip away across the universe.
Pools of sorrow, waves of joy...'

Not everything written is published. Some beautiful words might, at least for the present, 'slip away'. But setting one project aside doesn't diminish the continuing joy of words, nor does it pull the shutters down on anyone's writing dreams.

And I like the idea of a paper cup of words. It sounds like one of those strange gifts you can buy, some sort of writerly prompt perhaps.

Wishing everyone a very happy Easter and great success with all your writerly projects. xxx





17 comments:

  1. Lovely to hear your news - and thanks for referencing my favourite Beatles song. I'll be singing that all day now.

    The book sounds great. The trouble with a lot of publishers is that they won't take a chance on something that doesn't slot into their neat little categories - but that is exactly what original fiction may not do. I hope that someone can see past the ordinary and give you the contract I am sure you deserve. If not, there is always self-publishing so that the words don't 'slip away' entirely and at least I will be able to read it!

    Looking forward to your short story news soon!

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    1. Thank you so much, Bernadette. What a lovely, kind reply. And I'm so glad that's your favourite Beatles' song!

      I hope very much that someone can find the book its own slot somewhere and I'll definitely keep on hoping and trying for quite a while longer. Having lovely friends like you is the best possible support I could have. Thank you. xxx

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  2. Yes. Novels tend to sag in the middle of you're not careful (I too sag in the middle...). Have a lovely Easter yourself , Joanna.

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    1. Thanks, Frances. The central sag is definitely a problem. I'm intending to re-read my favourite novels and work out how they stay taut and gorgeous all the way through.

      Have a lovely Easter. xxx

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  3. I'm pretty sure I'd want to read the novel. Looking forward to the short story news. Wise words in this post and I'd like to echo Bernadette by saying those lines are from my favourite Beatles song too. Indeed, my favourite lyrics.

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    1. Thank you very much, Lindsay, you're very kind.

      I hadn't thought about 'Across the Universe' for ages and then my daughter was reading a book with that title by the author, Beth Revis, and I kept thinking about the lyrics and how lovely they are.

      I'm really looking forward to posting the short story news too and hopefully it will be soon. Many thanks again for your kind words. xxx

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  4. Please don't give up looking for a publisher, Joanna - if the writing in your novel is anything like your short stories, it will be worth the wait! You could always consider some of the smaller independent publishers if you don't hear back soon. Just getting it out there is such an encouragement to write the next and I'm sure lots of us will be standing in line to buy that book! Have a lovely Easter.

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    1. Thank you so very much, Rosemary. I'm really touched by your lovely, kind words of encouragement. I think you're right about the smaller publishers and I've now sent it out to two of those and have found a couple more to try as well. I feel a lot more better just knowing it's out there and someone is - hopefully - enjoying reading it.

      Your support is so uplifting and I hope you have a lovely, restful Easter. xxx

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    2. Oh dear - I have just typed 'a lot more better'. No wonder no one wants to publish me!!

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  5. I agree with Rosemary - don't give up, Joanna. Your book sounds just the sort of thing I would love to read just as much as I love your short stories. I think one day the people who have turned your book down will be kicking themselves.
    Hope you have a lovely Easter x

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    1. Oh Teresa, that's really lovely of you. Thank you so much for your kindness. You have all helped me to look at this in a far more positive way. To imagine you reading it one day is definitely going to spur me on. I'm going to keep trying as hard as I can.

      Thank you so much. I'm the luckiest blogger in blogland. Have a wonderful Easter break. xxx

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  6. Keeping my fingers crossed for you, Joanna.

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  7. Here is a market for your book... Me, me, me! It sounds like a wonderful read. I do hope it will see the light of day. Maybe you will have other novels published first, and then publishers will be asking if you have anything else. But keep trying, though, and as Rosemary says, you may do better with a smaller publisher who is not so risk averse.

    Have a lovely Easter, and stay positive. x

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    1. Thank you so very much, Joanne - it really helps to have such kind thoughts and encouragement. I feel so much more positive now. And I agree that the smaller publisher is the right direction to take. I feel optimistic and greatly cheered!

      Thank you so much, Joanne, for being so lovely, and have a really fabulous Easter. xxx

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  8. 'A paper cup of words' - what a great concept, Joanna. I think you should patent the idea and start selling these cups of inspiration to us writers who are running low on ideas!
    All the best with your writing projects.

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    1. Thank you, Sally. You're very kind. Words in a paper cup really is a lovely concept, isn't it? xxx

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