Monday, January 14, 2008

Once more into the breach

Saying of the week: "Every man’s work, whether it be literature or music or pictures or architecture or anything else, is always a portrait of himself" -- Samuel Butler

In September of ’07, I was under the impression that I had finished, for good, the editing of my second novel, Changi. A love story that unfolds within a Japanese POW camp during WWII. It’s a complicated story with several plot twists, funny and sad, memorable characters. I love this story. But I must admit, after reading it a dozen or more times over the previous two years, I was overjoyed to tie a big rainbow colored bow around it and put it on the self. It was clearly time to move on.
Life has a strange sense of humor, however. After purging the book from my mind and having a thoroughly marvelous holiday season with friends in Las Vegas, I came back home to find an email in my inbox from my publisher, Zumaya Publications. They want to publish the story but they have issues, and they proceeded to list some needed changes, changes that would require going through the entire manuscript again. (frown)
My first reaction, of course, was to tap dance down Market Street. The idea of having my story published and read by hundreds, perhaps thousands of readers made me dizzy, or at least more dizzy than normal. But now, here I sit with the manuscript in front of me, ready to charge through the story once again. (deeper frown)
I suppose I could leave it on the shelf for a few more months while I finish up the first draft of my forth novel, but I really hate the idea of some unfinished work looming over my head. The notion of too much of a good thing is a valid one, and at the moment, certainly applies to me and Changi.
So, into the breach once more dear friends, one last push for Queen and Country.

Also, I’m starting something new this year. One of my New Year’s resolutions is to read at least three books each month (editing my own books doesn’t count ). My reasoning is that every accomplished writer claims that the most important thing a writer can do to improve his skills is to read, read, read. And then read more.
So along with reading, I also plan to write a review of each one and post them onto my blogs. The following is a review of my first read in 2008.

Wild Oats By Jacob Epstein
1 Star
An ugly cousin to Catcher in the Rye: college freshman having trouble adjusting; falling in love with a girl and not handling it well; he has no direction, fumbling through some funny and serious moments in his rite of passage of being away at college.
Written in the first person POV, the story plods along, trying to give the reader a humorous glimpse into this kid’s jumbled life as he tries to fit in. The writing is not particularly eye-catching and the humor often falls into the ream of stupid or absurd rather than funny. All in all, an unremarkable read. I think the main problem, for me anyway, was that the main character didn’t do a single thing to make me care about him. So I didn’t care if he flunked out of school, got the girl or not, or made friends. More than once, to my annoyance, the writer drifted from past tense to present, and then back to past. I found myself skipping whole pages and skimming the last third of the book (almost putting it down twice) wishing it would end soon. Of course, I didn’t care much for Catcher in the Rye either, so perhaps I simply can’t relate to this literary theme.

No comments: