Well, I made it. We made it! Well done. We have finally reached Z, the zenith, the pinnacle, the summit, the climax of this a to z blog challenge. Hazaar!
For the whole month of April, bloggers everywhere have dedicated their time to writing a daily blog and if I’m honest, I wondered if I’d have the staying power to see it through to the end. I wondered if I’d actually find something to write about for each letter of the alphabet pertaining to my WIP ‘Prophecy of Innocence’ but it turns out actually I could. Who’d have thought heh?
I guess though, when you have spent two and a half years submersed in something, it becomes such an integrated part of you, it becomes second nature to talk/write about it.
I thought I’d reached the zenith of my work in January. I really thought I’d done with it – this time. It was as good as it was going to get, wasn’t it? But as you will know if you read my D is for depth post, I discovered a lot more work needed doing if a publisher is going to take it on.
As a result I recently re-worked the prologue and the first five chapters (originally three chapters) which the publisher had seen and then asked some people if they’d mind beta-reading it for me. Six great people volunteered and then of course as soon as I email them I think of things which could be better and find things which need altering and so now those people have one version and I have the slightly altered version, and they’ve only had it a week so they have had no chance to even give me their thoughts before I’m tweaking! I need to leave it alone and wait for feedback because I will only have to change things again based on what they might say.
Anyway, this is where we come to the zeal part of today’s post.
The one thing taking part in this blog challenge has done for me personally is help me to renew some zeal for my WIP. It has forced me to look at the whole thing through fresh eyes which is why I am forever tinkering with it. Also because writing about the different characters and places and other things related to the story reminds me of my love for what I’ve managed to create in my mind. However mad-cap it all seems. I found every time I wrote one of these blog posts I had more enthusiasm for sitting back down and editing and re-writing parts which I knew didn’t cut the mustard. I would suddenly have light-bulb moments over certain things whilst writing blog posts. Yes my zeal was real. I had a renewed passion for my story… that was until last night .
I know exactly what caused my fear and sudden lack of zeal and it goes like this.
I was reading a bedtime story to my little boy. Something I do every night, so why last night should be any different I don’t know. Anyhow, I was reading the book and doing the character voices, as one does, when it suddenly occurred to me that, as my book is for children, albeit older children, then it is possible it will be read aloud to children so I figured I should read it a loud and see how it sounds. (I have done this when drafting earlier versions for proofing but that was a while ago.)
And therein lay the problem. It (okay I’ve only done the prologue so far) sounds…well, crap for want of a better word. I couldn’t hear, out loud, what I’d written in my head. I couldn’t hear the character’s voices. The ones I can clearly hear in my head when I’m writing. Out loud they sounded like me on a bad day and this is not because I am a monotonous reader. It’s always been the one thing I enjoy and have always been good at in my job teaching; reading a story to the kids. But uurggghhh. Mine sounds awful and the worst thing is I don’t know how to fix it. I really don’t. It sounded bland and flat and well to me just uuuurgghhh.
So after having a whole month of feeling fairly positive, upbeat and, yes even zealous, about my work I now, as we have drawn to the end of this blog challenge, loathe it. I don’t feel my writing is good enough for children, or anyone actually. I also now have six people who are in receipt of the first few chapters and I’m cringing. I didn’t give it them expecting rave reviews. Far from it, I know there’s stuff wrong with it but it’s now a case of not been able to see the wood for the trees. I needed others to see it to help me see where I can improve or more importantly for me how I can improve. I’m not scared of constructive criticism. I just feel embarrassed by what I’ve given to people. Some have shown interest in it purely through this blog challenge and so I feel I have let them down as it won’t live up to their expectations.
They hear my voice on this blog and probably and rightly expect the same in my fiction. But I’ve discovered, my voice is here on my blog but not in my WIP.. This is me talking. Writing a piece of fantasy fiction and writing it well is an altogether different skill and one , it may be time for me to admit, I’m not really cut out for. At least not yet.
So the upshot is, I think I might just go and hide away under a rock, or possibly even down in the depths of Trelflande for a few months/years until, hopefully, the great people who have any version of my WIP (as there are a few versions floating around with different people) forget they have it in their possession and until such a time as I’ve learned how to craft a story properly.
Not quite the tone I was wished to end my challenge on, but there you have it. If you set about something in the unplanned spontaneous fashion I do most things (i.e this challenge, and my WIP) it’s never going to follow a straightforward path is it? (I would like to point out that this fear/self doubt, whatever you wish to term it, is all part of the writing life cycle. I cannot honestly see myself jacking it all in, even if I feel like it right at this moment, I’m just writing what I feel now.)
However, I am pleased to have taken part in the challenge. I am glad to have made it to the finish line. It does feel like an achievement. I’m also happy to have taken part for the following reasons:
1) It’s been fun to delve into my WIP and, when I’ve had a little break from it and hopefully had some feedback and done some more writing practice, I can take all these posts and listen to my own advice!
2) I’ve come across some great new blogs to follow, so that’s great. 🙂
3) I have mostly enjoyed a daily read over at Graham Milne’s blog : Find it here. It is awesome. Graham was actually the exact opposite to me and planned his A-Z challenge out! A true pro. It has been a total joy to read his posts, each one a song which he has linked to a story about his life. If you haven’t checked it out I highly recommend you do. His writing is sublime and real. But I’ll warn you now to take a box of tissues with you, because some of them are just beautiful and unless you are made of ice you will shed a tear or two. So go now and read if you’ve missed out. For shame.
Finally I’d like to thank all of you who have taken the time to read my ramblings, which were not at all planned. I’d particularly like to say thanks to those of you who have commented with sound advice and words of support and encouragement. It’s weird to think that people actually read this stuff, so thank you.
And now I’m off to sleep. Regular service will be resumed in due course.