A few months ago, I thought I was finished with my novel. I wrote my first draft, let it sit for a few months, filled in some blanks, and gave it another draft. I started sending it out to small presses and agents.
Now, a few months later, I’ve found myself in a place where I’ve gotten lots of good feedback, but no offers for publication or representation. One of the editors of a small press said she loved my writing style, but the book was too non-traditional a western for them to publish. I didn’t take this too hard, because the “non-traditional” aspect is built into the genre I’m working it. An agent said she liked my writing and sense of plot and story arc, but that I should consider working with an editor to bring my work up to the next level. She recommended one (who I’m still waiting to hear back from), but luckily for me my partner works as an editor and was able to give me some advice in the meantime.
So here I am working on another draft. It turns out that despite all my research, I put in a few historical inaccuracies. And there are a few sections that I know need to be expanded, and this blog post is really helpful in that respect. I’m also having a few of my friends who know a bit about social justice struggles read over it, as an element of social justice is built into the genre, too. This is a tricky part, because the novel has to be somewhat radically themed, but still readable to people who are not radicals (i.e. most people). I also worry that I amped up the violence a bit much–between reading Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian while writing, some of the history of the time, and my attempts to paint people as absolute villains, it seemed like the right choice. But it might be too much.
Well, these are the things I’m thinking about while writing another draft. And as I’m upstate for the holidays, I’ve had plenty of time and space to ruminate on these topics. I’m about halfway through my next draft.