Friday, 15 October 2010


Now here's a question I've been wrestling with for the past few weeks: what price artistic integrity?
Which leads to the next question - why do I write? - and leads to a basketful of other questions, all raised by one simple but rather thorny issue - wordcount.

Leaving aside the resounding silence following the submission of the completed book to Publisher #1, identifying the next publishers on the list to be graced with my submission raised a persistent problem - wordcount. A typical submission criteria required by those publishers most suited for my book often includes a maximum wordcount, which Witherstone in its final and unabridged form exceeds by quite a bit...
...and having in those same few weeks been persuaded by an insistent writer colleague to enter Witherstone into a certain competition, the questions have been compounded as there is of course a maximum wordcount for said competition which comes a good 2 chapters before the end of the book.
A serious (and I mean serious) edit of the whole manuscript in the subsequent weeks has got it down pretty impressively, losing some bits n bobs but keeping the story & its integrity intact & something I'm still happy with - but still way over the submission criteria.

So what next?

Don't bother with said competition & publishers with maximum wordcount criteria? That's certainly an option, but I do actually want to get it published. And I console myself that if I did manage to get Witherstone published, and it sold well enough, then said publisher would be happier for the subsequent books in the series to be a little longer (eyes glancing at ever-increasing girth of certain well-known series for younger & cross-over readers as each book came along as I speak...)

So, currently tinkering with earlier parts of the story as alternative endings - not such a major problem in a significant respect as the earlier finish would merely mean that the excised two chapters or so move to the beginning of Book 2 instead, and there are a couple of really good places Witherstone itself could finish quite well. And it would be foolish to ignore a goodly batch of potential publishers, and a relevant and prestigious competition.
But. Where it finishes at the moment is the best one. That's why it finishes there. The alternatives all have merit, and merely mean that the next part of the story begins in Book 2 instead of ending Book 1. But. Still BUT. That's not how I want it to end. And that's not how my daughter thinks it should end (she was gasping for Book 2 as soon as she put down Book 1, which is, of course, exactly the effect we wish to create). And the book itself thinks it should end there too.

So... not a fun pun but rather ironic all the same. Do I write for its own sake or write to be published?