Thursday, 10 May 2012

Searching For The Reason Why

Available as a paper back or on Kindle

I've had some personal issues lately; nothing major or life changing but they have forced me to take a step back and re-evaluate what it is I am trying to achieve. I write stories, that much is clear and that won't ever change. I didn't think that my reason for writing them had changed either but I find the constant pressures of promotion and marketing sometimes takes away the pleasure of storytelling. I write, I publish, sometimes people read them, sometimes they don't, sometimes they love them, sometimes they don't. I can't please everyone and I don't try to.
It isn't that I don't care whether my books do well or not, it is more a case of being practical and making sure that I stay true to myself.
I am not Philippa Gregory or Hilary Mantel, I am Judith Arnopp and my books are as unique as I am. I don't want them to be like anyone else's. Sometimes I forget that.
When, after several drafts, I thought The Song of Heledd was finished, my editor said it was too short, needed something else so I duly 'added' bits, embellished what was there and sent it to her again. No, she still wasn't  happy, it was still only 50,000 words, a novelette and she advised me that it wouldn't sell. I duly sat down and wrote in a sub-plot. I find it extraordinarily difficult to meddle with my work too much once it is done but I respect her advice and knew she was probably right. The new shiny, much bled over manuscript was finally done.  I left it for a few months before reading it through and to my horror discovered that I hated it.
It was no longer what I had intended it to be. The Song of Heledd is about human folly, childish impulsiveness that brings about a catastrophy so dreadful that the narrator can hardly bear to speak of it. So I sat down and ripped out the sub plot again and, if I learned anything from the exercise it is that taking out a sub-plot is a whole lot more difficult than adding one.  I also discovered that initial plot concepts are sometimes the best ones. Now Heledd stands alone on her hilltop again, lamenting for the loss of her family, the loss of her kin and trying to bear the pain of knowing that it is her fault alone. It is a stark tale of harsh times, a fiction of how one small indiscretion can bring intolerable suffering.
It will probably never make the bestseller charts but that doesn't matter. I needed to write it and can now consider it closed and get on with my next story. The Song of Heledd was published a couple of months ago and is also available on Kindle. Already I have received several emails from readers who have loved it, who promise to share it with their friends and to me that denotes success.  It isn't a lengthy book but if the story of Heledd and Ffreur doesnt affect you, then you must be made of stone. This is why I write, to offer readers a few hours of escape, to make them think a little and it is the readers who enjoy my work and take the trouble to let me know my efforts are appreciated that makes it all worth while. Those readers make me remember what it is that I am trying to achieve.

My other books include:

The Forest Dwellers

Dear Henry: Confessions of the Queens

1 comment:

  1. Stay true to yourself Judith, they are all great books!