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I don’t say much about my writing on this blog. I’ve written much but have said little. Meet me for a coffee, and I will talk your ear off. There is too much to write about, and I’ll be honest, I don’t really know what I am doing. *grin*

2012 Novel

I have received feedback from 5 of my 8 beta readers. It ranges from apathetic to, “you probably need to have a real editor help you through the next steps. I’d send it to an agent now.” My three remaining readers are not so much proofers or editors but audience feedback. I touch areas, and these readers live in those areas. It is prodding the sleeping lion with a short stick.

2012 is currently sitting idle and will remain so for the foreseeable future.

2010 Novel

This story keeps creeping into my head. It is probably because the inspiration for it came from an apartment in the building directly across from our apartment (been here just over a year.) The story has issues, and I don’t know if I am ready to tackle them. I do like it, though, and will have to put serious thought into a plan.

2013 Novel

No plans to take this on. It might have potential, but there is nothing particularly compelling about it.

2014 Novel

This is a sequel to 2012. As with 2012, it addresses important issues that have never before been covered in a novel, and it needs to get out there. *Damn you 2017!

2015 Novel

I am currently trying some ideas out for the next NaNoWrimo. My mind hoards images and inspiration. A few of them are colliding: magical realism, additive sentence style, satire, immigration and emigration (I descend from immigrants and I are an expat), the American Revolution, Vermont dress-code and hairstyles, and the history of my current city a.k.a. The Loyalist City. There is still something missing, and I don’t know what it is. Yes I do, a story.

The Manatee

I am writing a few satirical articles for the Award Winning online blog. My stories.

2011 Novel

I have decided to re-write 2011 and this is where my current fiction-writing efforts are focused. The reason is simple and pressing: this story needs to be published in 2017.

I have overcome some serious flaws in my writing. I still write conversationally, but I am much better at using active verbs. I used to write passive sentences habitually, and I somehow developed the habit of overusing stage management verbs. Copulas have also been a problem, but no as bad as the other issues. A focus on editing has done wonders over these past five years, my reading pace and the quality of my analysis has picked up, and I am seeing the bigger pictures: conflict, character, imagery, theme, etc. My writing feels tighter when I read it back to myself.

I sat down with Mr. 2011 sometime this winter or spring. Its prose was dreadful. Not all of it, but much of it was filled with stage management, filtering verbs – she thinks, sees, feels, and wants. *gag* The scenes had little purpose except for getting from A to B (as one has to do in travel stories), and it was loose. It was more than loose, it was wobbly. It was bloody awful. But as I said, the story needs to be published in 2017.

2017 is Canada’s 150th birthday. It promises to be a huge year in Canada. If you have a Canadian novel — a novel written by a Canadian, set in Canada, and about Canada, this year could be a gold mine. You’d be a fool to pass it by. My 2011 story is about a cross-Canada tour. It is political, tactile, thematic, and in the end, celebratory. I say this honestly and not because I want to sell a million copies: my 2011 story is the perfect Canadian read for 2017. I began writing it long before I realize the significance of 2017, so I will claim it is an honest novel and not manufactured to take advantage of the birthday. I am also encouraged that the people I tell the story outline to all agree — this story needs to be published in 2017!

This morning I finished re-writing up to page 182 of 333, double-spaced Word 2007. 127k words at the moment. I have much left to do. The next step is to edit the belly-of-the-whale scene, the center of the story marking the return home, virtually speaking. The scene takes place on parliament hill during Canada Day celebrations, and I have spent much time at it. This edit will be more a line edit but also to add in elements to make it align with the story and themes, if it doesn’t already, if it would help. The scene has to stay pretty much as it is though. It is a darling that will never be killed by my hands. Without giving too much away, let’s just say the Don Cherry Seven Second Delay makes an appearance.

I have struggled getting this far. I still may re-write PEI and NS. NF and NB are sitting well with me. Québec was a struggle — isn’t it always? — but some research and some deep thought have helped me straighten it. My editor — if you are an editor, I need you! — will have fun with Québec. I left Québec very happy, and I think Québec is very happy I left it.

I entered Ontario a couple of weeks ago distraught. It was some of the worst prose I have ever put on a page. I cut quite a bit of it, yet the basic story needed to remain — again the A to B thing and a need for a setup of the belly-of-the-whale scene. I pondered my root story and my themes, tried a few things, discussed a few ideas with fellow writers, reminisced about certain activities in my past from my time living in Ottawa, and I have crafted some scenes that I now really like. I laugh just thinking about them. And I have to say, this will be a fun, summer read. It is not light and fluffy. It is not an airhead read. It is simple prose, and technically, it is an easy read, but I ask important questions most of us may need to think about.

There are groups of people that will disdain this story — the clowns and the jokers. I acknowledge that, and I am sorry, but there is nothing I can do for you but smile and wave.

Where to from here?

There are big questions surrounding this story:

  • is my writing really tight enough?
  • is the story tight enough?
  • does the story really need to be published in 2017?
  • do I invest time in beta readers?
  • do I query an agent, a mid-level publisher, or go it alone?

I only have two “knows” at the moment. 1. This draft will be completed by the end of August, and 2. Martin(1) will edit it(2) during that first week of September. He doesn’t know his schedule yet 😉

2017 arrives in 17 months! I have to get this to an agent, sign a deal, and get a publishing deal all during September. Self-publishing might be the only way this thing gets out on time, and I hate that thought. I disdain self-publishing for its deigning of quality.

(1)Martin Wightman is a journalist and copy editor at NB News who has recently started writing a regular science column for the Telegraph Journal (protected by pay-wall,) a freelancer, and a song writer (I think). He is also a friend who has edited a few of my pieces, tough but encouraging .
(2)I love working with editors 😉

If you are an agent or publisher looking for that perfect, Canadian novel for 2017. Please contact me. Save us both some time and effort. 😉