Monday, 27 August 2012

New Novel... New Identity Crisis

Okay... while Draft One of my sci-fi novel, 'The Renegades: Redemption' sits and stews for a while, I've started another one. Well, it keeps me off the streets, doesn't it..? Anyway, this one is a childrens' fantasy novel, and is completely different from Renegades in the same way that Joyce Grenfell's humour is completely different from Frankie Boyle's. Which has got me thinking, for the first time, about the thorny issue of Pen Names.

Y'see, my sci-fi novel is very 'adult.' No, NOT in the 'Fifty Shades of Grey' sense - but certainly not the sort of thing they'd consider televising on CBBC any time soon, if you catch my drift. If, in the magical world of Dreams Come True, it gets published with one name attached, I'm going to have to think about using an alternative name for any kid's books I write - purely to avoid the scenario of some innocent mum going into a bookshop and thinking "Ooh look, a Wendy Christopher novel. She wrote that jolly tale about the king of Avalaff that my little Tyler liked so much - I think I'll buy this 'Renegades' one for his seventh birthday..." You know what I mean. Don't want to be accused of corrupting the nation's youth.

So... how do I want to play this? Which genre would I want my real name on, and which one the pen name?

And no, before you ask, I would not do that thing where an author has "Jenny Bloggs writing as Matilda Saucebucket" or whatever. I've never understood that. I mean, I understand a writer wanting to write novels in different genres under different names, so as not to be pigeonholed... but surely announcing the fact on the front of your books just makes you seem like you have sort of multiple personality disorder? Isn't it a bit like an undercover policeman turning up to his 'case' in full disguise - and then lifting up his fake beard in front of the crims and going "Woo-hoo! It's me all along - did you guess? Oh whoops - sorry, just pretend you never saw that..!"

So no - if I'm going to use more than one name, I won't be listing them all on the front of my books like some sort of Pick Your Own Alt-Fest. I will be using them purely for the altogether higher purposes of deception and subterfuge.

This is of course, assuming that ANY of my novels get published. I have to have the attitude that they will, because otherwise my confidence will crumble like a sandcastle and I will just give up on my writing dreams and - in all probability - go completely insane, which is not something people approve of in suburban Maidstone.

So I'm bigging up my own ego for entirely altruistic reasons. I'm glad we got that cleared up.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

I Think I'm Finally A Novelist..!

This week I finished the First Draft of my science fiction novel, The Renegades: Redemption (working title that will probably become the actual one unless I can finally dream up something better.)

That's 'finished' as in 'actually got to the bit where I get to type 'THE END' when the final chapter's been written.' This is the first time in my life that this has happened to me!

Sure, in the past I've written the lyrics for two musicals (both of which were performed in the USA) and had a couple of short stories and parts of collaborative short stories published - but when it comes to novels... well I've got enough halfway-through and only-just-started ones to stock a library (admittedly a very rubbish library, seeing as none of the books would be finished.) Until now. Now I've actually FINISHED a novel!

Well okay - I've actually finished a first draft, which isn't quite the same thing, as I'm sure all the proper novelists out there will tell me. But for me, this is still A Big Thing. For one thing, it means I'm not the big old, lazy, procrastinatin' lightweight I thought I was (well, okay then - I'm a little less like it than I used to be.) And second - now it means I actually have to find out if I've got what it takes to reach the next stage - completing Draft Two.

In six weeks time I will need to unearth my Draft One copy and rip it to pieces with my distance-critical eye. I might discover it's so awful that actually taking it to Draft Two stage could be considered a crime against literature, and while that will probably hurt at least I will have discovered it early rather than late in the journey. I'm hoping that won't be the case, of course - I invested a lot of time and effort in it, after all. I even made an Excel spreadsheet to track my hours spent writing it, for crying out loud. (I know - dead nerdy, but it seemed to work for making me write each day. I suppose seeing those little numbers adding up in my Total Hours columns guilted me into keeping at it.)

And then, if said Draft One proves to actually NOT suck, I will be able to dive headlong into the process of creating Draft Two. And heck, I might even finish THAT too. Providing an asteroid doesn't hit the planet and vaporise us all of course, or some other natural disaster of a world-ending nature. (That would be just typical of my luck, that would; finally get my posterior in gear with my writing and then get wiped out in a global crisis of bad B-movie proportions.)

But no! I must think positive, happy thoughts. Today is the first day of the rest of my life as a novelist. Not necessarily a successful one - but a novelist all the same. This calls for a celebration!

I may well eat a colossal amount of chocolate tonight...