Monday, 21 November 2011

The New Book

Hello out there

I have just put the phone down on a long call from a friend, who has just finished reading my book.  Despite her reassurances that it is all well written and very interesting, I know the book needs more work - it is hard to define, but it is a bit like when I was at University - I knew if I had written an outstanding essay or done really well in an exam, and I want to feel like that about my book before it goes to hard print. 

I suppose some other people must feel differently - the majority of students when I was at Uni seemed genuinely not to know whether they had done well or badly in tests etc.  And most young people I know now are on tenterhooks when it comes to waiting for exam results.  But back then I suspected that they must be hiding something - I felt that everyone knew how they have performed even before their work was marked, because I did.  I was never surprised when I received a mediocre mark, because I knew it was for mediocre work.

Thus with my book.  It is good, I know that.  It is very good in some ways.  But it is not brilliant - it is not a bestseller, not ground shaking.  Not yet.  (Paul will hate me for writing this, he says you should never put yourself down because there are plenty of other people willing to do it for you.  And he is right in a way, but I want to be honest about how I feel about what I write, because the honesty is important to the writing too.  My book will help people to understand schizophrenia, or the diagnosing of it, better and to be reassured if they or those they love are told they have it.  It will give hope to certain people, if they stumble across it.  But I want it to be more than that.  I want it to be of universal interest, universal application, universal hope.  I want the average person who reads it to feel that their understanding has been enhanced in some way.  And I won't feel that it is properly finished until and unless it accomplishes those aims.  And if I don't feel that I have achieved that then I will just move on and start another book.  on a completely different subject).

Which brings me to another point.  Or two.  The first is that I need an agent.  I want an outside person to give me an honest, critical assessment of the book and to take up the job of marketing it - to find me a publisher.  (Readers, if you know anyone in the field, please point them to me.)  And the second is that instead of working on the book some more, trying to improve it as much as possible, and then, or alternatively, write a book on recovery, I am going to amalgamate these two jobs.  I am going to improve the book and make it about recovery as much as about my history.  So that I can use the subtitle that my dear friend just suggested to me on the phone,  'A journey of hope and recovery', and know that it is properly true.

Let me know what you think.

Louise x


    Use the search for agents tab and plug in your key words, like memoir and mental health.
    But first, you will have to prepare a query letter and a proposal. I will be happy to send you what I did, although, so far, I've had only nibbles, no request for the full manuscript.

  2. Thanks Rossa. I will do that. Although I have something called 'The Writers' and Artists' Yearbook' which is very good, your way may be quicker.

    It wasn't so much the practical advice on looking for an agent I was fishing for though. It was more: Does it make sense to re-write the book (again) but make it more about recovery rather than writing a new one about recovery but also still trying to make the old one better? I seem to be going around in circles!

    I don't suppose it really matters what I do in the long run as long as it keeps me busy (and happy) and fosters the illusion of progress!

    L x

  3. Your book is very good and I know, since I've read it. My two cents worth - leave it and write a new one with a different approach. The first is strictly memoir, the second one could be whatever you want it to be about recovery. Your first book could benefit from someone (a writer or editor whose opinion you respect) going over it to make sure it's absolutely ship shape, but there's no need to re-write it or expand on it, in my humble opinion.

  4. Thank you Rossa, that makes me feel better. You are probably right - the best way to progress is simply to move on. I will start a new book, otherwise I might just drive myself up the wall going over old ground. And I will start it soon, before I change my mind again - I have notes all over the place, so will start to pull them together. x