Monday, April 11, 2011

I’ll never write again! Vicki Delany and the Gothic Tradition.

This is Vicki on Monday morning telling you that I’ll never write again! They`ll hate my book! No one will ever publish me again! No one will ever want to read this book!

Is there any worse job than being a fiction writer? Never mind that we don’t make much money and don’t get no respect (pond scum has a better chance of winning an award in Canada than a crime writer). Never mind that we work long, long hours for little money (did I mention that?) and no certainly of results.

We are perhaps the most un-confident of people. Nagging self-doubt and constant criticism is pretty much the name of the game.

I am beginning to suspect that every writer in the world has moments of intense self-doubt. First book? It’s rubbish! Ninth-best seller? This one will be a dismal failure! Awards out the kazoo? Not this time.

Way back when I was taking creating writing courses at Sheridan College (the teacher was Lynda Simmonds /, a great author and super teacher.) I remember the first day of one class when we were doing the usual introduce yourself thing. One woman said she had written four novels but had given them all up in the middle because they weren’t working. The teacher said that every writer felt that at some point and if everyone gave in the moment a book wasn’t working out, nothing would ever get written.

I’m at that point right now in the standalone I’m doing – tentative title is Walls of Glass. This book is for Poisoned Pen because I’m taking a break from Molly Smith and Trafalgar (fear not, dear reader, Smith and Winters will return). I’m writing it in the British Gothic tradition that I loved growing up (think Victoria Holt). I was absolutely delighted to hear at Left Coast Crime that the British Gothic is the new hot trend, although mostly being written by Americans. Imagine that, here I am at the forefront of a new wave!

Burden of Memory, my second book for Poisoned Pen, fits into the gothic tradition, by the way. Large old house, wealthy multi-generational family, dark hidden secrets, something moving in the woods (or is there?). And I didn’t even know it.

Walls of Glass is what I am going to call Prince Edward County Gothic. Because it’s set in Prince Edward County, Ontario, not in Britain. And in an 18th century farmhouse, not a castle or manor house.

All of which is beside my point, which is that right now the book is a mess. I have a rough idea for the ending, but not a clue how to get there. I have characters all set in motion with personalities and problems and backstories, hanging around as if on a stage where the director has suddenly departed, leaving them saving, “What now?”

(Note that I am writing this blog post in my usual writing period of the morning. Any excuse not to have to face those empty pages and those wandering characters.)

Hope, however, is at hand. I have a meeting with my critique group this evening. Dinner at a pub, a glass or wine or two, gossip about the book world, and then we’ll push back the dirty plates and glasses and start to talk. They all know I’m coming from the ‘soggy middle’ of my new book and have been told to have their thinking caps on.

There, I feel more confident already.

At least until tomorrow.

Perhaps I’ll take up cake-decorating.


Linda Leszczuk said...

I was thinking of becoming a professioanl dog walker. The pay is better (it almost has to be), I like dogs, and sometimes shoveling poop feels a lot like what I do anyway.

But, hey, it's Monday morning. Things always look grim on Monday morning.

hannah Dennison said...

Morning from LA Vicki ... your words cheered me up actually because this is MY usual writing time and instead I'm faffing about on the Internet feeling all the same doubts as you! I love the fact you're writing a British gothic and intend to grill you further at Malice. I'm sure you critique group will boost your spirits - you're a FABULOUS writer ... I love your work!

Rick Blechta said...

At least with cake decorating, if nobody wants to buy your work, you can eat it yourself — and you don't have to wait 2 or 3 years, either!

Besides, everybody loves cake!

Victoria said...

Ah, yes, that wonderful 'nobody wuvs me' feeling! I think we're prone to it because a) no immediate feedback on the books, so we wait years for that one special release day and then... zip, and b) we don't make much money for the effort. Any adjustment to a or b would probably help!! LOL.

Donis Casey said...

Quite timely. I've written 75 pages on my new novel, and have spent the last week rearranging the same 75 pages over and over.

Diane said...

I so enjoyed your post. You were dead on about the self-doubt all writers go through. And hats off to the ones, like yourself, who stay with it. Otherwise our reading world would be a poorer place. Good luck with your Gothic. I have do doubt you will pull it off splendidly.

Vicki Delany said...

Thanks Diane. Much appreciated

Frankie Y. Bailey said...

I'm sure you're manage to pull it off, Vicki. But you're right about those moments of self-doubt. There are moments when I wonder how I could have imagined I could write.

I thrilled to hear that the Gothic is hot in any form. My first bottom of the drawer book was Gothic mystery/suspense, set in the 70s, moving from Seattle to Wales. I loved that book. Maybe now is the time to pull it out and see if I can make something of it.

I grew up loving Victoria Holt and Mary Stewart too. That was the kind of book I always wanted to write.

Charlotte Hinger said...

Vicki, some days I wonder why I'm doing this to myself. The beauty of waiting tables is immediate praise in the form of tips. Feedback! Without the trauma of waiting for reviews.