Sunday, December 10, 2006
We had a quick drink in a pub on Lothian Road beforehand, then made our way into the seat-less venue. We went to see the Bootleg Beatles last year, but I didn't think they were as good this time round. I think it maybe had something to do with the repetitive banter on stage - all the same as last year - and the introduction of some really slow and unknown (to me) ballads to the set, in favour of some of the more popular songs.
Still, it was a good night out and they are a fabulous cover band, looking and sounding just like the real article (from what I can tell not having been born till the 70's). The aficionados who were around for The Beatles have been going to see this Bootleg band for two decades now and seem to think they're good, so I'll take their word for it. Certainly they look the part, particularly the Lennon and McCartney actors who look and sound spookily like the real thing.
On Thursday Devon put some questions to me about my feelings and approach to Hunting Jack in an effort to a) understand my inability to decide what to do with it, and b) come to a decision. I've been thinking about them over the past couple of days, and so here are my responses.
What is your vision for the book's future?
Hard to answer. Obviously in an ideal world I would want it to be published traditionally and to form the start of a possible series of books. It would be the basis of future novels revolving around Jackie McCann, how he came to be etc.
So yes, I would want it published. But I don't think it would make it into book form. I don't think it's quite strong enough to be picked up - yet - as much as I love it.
If I compare my writing from Slick to Hunting Jack, I have definitely come on as a writer. I'm more rounded, intense and organised. Hunting Jack was the big learning curve. It was my first attempt when every page was a new experience and every chapter a blind bend. During Slick, I knew what I was doing and I knew where I was going. I have a have better chance at publication now, (though maybe not all the way there), than I do with Hunting Jack.
Are you willing to have it take the time it will take to find the right traditional publisher, or do you want it to be out and about earlier, which, since the e-process tends to be quicker, is what's likely to happen?
I'm an impatient person, especially about indecision. If I could decide one way or the other, the patience would come if I knew where I was going to take it. If I felt absolutely positive that the book was good enough for traditional publication, then I would take more time and be more patient.
I spent nine months writing Hunting Jack, and a further two months revising and editing it. It took five weeks to write Slick, and four weeks to plan and research. There's around three months of research and editing to go. The point being, do I want to invest more time on Hunting Jack when I have moved on and can use my new experiences and knowledge to bring Jackie forward into present-time in a more effective manner?
In terms of your career, do you want HUNTING JACK to be your debut in traditional format?
To expect my first attempt at a novel, which was written originally as an e-serial, to be picked up and published, must surely be asking too much. I know it happens from time to time, but to me? Personally, when I pick up the manuscript something shouts at me saying, "it's not good enough". Or is that just typical writer's mentality?
Based on what I said earlier about me feeling it isn't strong enough, then no. I would want my first novel to be as strong as possible. I think Slick is already in that position. Would I want Slick to be my debut in traditional format? As it stands, yes, more than Hunting Jack.
Is the wait and the search for the right traditional publisher worth it in the bigger picture?
Good question. Is it worth it? Surely it's always worth it, because that's why I'm in the game - to see my work published and so I can look back at a body of work I am proud of. Will I be proud of Hunting Jack as it stands against the quality I can write at now and want to achieve? Perhaps not, but then it can be worked on - I just don't want to work on it right now, but I don't want to see it sitting doing nothing. I want to do other things, maybe work with Jackie on something else, and maybe work on other things more then revisit it again some time down the line.
But in the bigger picture? Well, I would also need to think about what end it might serve. Hunting Jack was my first novel and it was written under the auspice of a bi-weekly e-serial. It served as a major learning experience with it being my first full-length work of fiction. It's been through the mill many times and is a good manuscript and it is publishable, I'm just not sure it's publishable traditionally in it's current state. Would it credit me or hold me back? I think if it was good enough, credit. The question is, should I wait long-term for a traditional publisher, or publish on the internet now?
Is HUNTING JACK a foundation cornerstone for you or one of the other building bricks in the career?
I always saw Hunting Jack as a learning curve, as the novel where I would learn a vast amount about whether I had it in me to a) have the patience and tenacity to complete a draft of a written novel, and b) whether it would be any good.
In the end, I achieved what I set out. I have it in me to write novels, and I think Hunting Jack is pretty good - for a first effort. It could be better in places, and in others, it's sublime in my eyes. I love the characters, and grew into my apprenticeship with Jackie alongside me.
A lot that I went through and experienced with Hunting Jack, I was able to apply and be prepared for in Slick. In other words, it has always been a building brick that I leanrt vastly from. Slick is the cornerstone where I proved I can learn from it and can learn and move fast. The process was much easier, and in that respect, and without the internet, Hunting Jack would probably never have seen the light first time round even with KIC.
I love the story and I love the characters, but I feel this may be clouding my judgement. I don't think Hunting Jack will make it on its own right now. I think I should use it as the learning experience it was and maybe one day, once I have learned and moved on, I can go back to it and work on it. I'm beginning to think of it as the early years of Rebus before he joined the police force, except that I have the background written to a story still to come, that maybe people will one day want to read about. If that makes sense.
With that in mind, should I continue with my plan to submit to e-publishers, bearing in mind it has a good chance of rejection along with everything else? No, I don't think so. So I've decided to leave it and drop my idea of publishing in e-format. I'll wait. It could be years, but I'll wait.
Thanks to Devon for prompting me in this most valuable exercise.