Chalice is finished. There are still a couple of important comments to come in, but rewriting the conclusion is finished. First responses have been very positive. Proofreader edits will be entered by the end of next week.
Finished… well, the work of the writer is finished. Work of the author continues: Legal considerations remain; the book needs to be formatted for Amazon and uploaded; I need to format for print then get it printed; and I need to hire a publicist. Actually, those are not the work of author, but part of my work as publisher.
I wish my squeamishness about the label “self-published” would dissipate. Despite observations about the revolution in publishing, especially over the last two years, despite exhortations by Steven Pressfield, despite my belief in the work itself, despite the existence of 110,000 words in the form of a story, despite my experience with “professionals” who focus only on markets and not art, despite all these facets, the feeling “it’s not real” nags me.
But it is real, and it has real value. And soon, anyone who wants to discover that will be able to hold Chalice in their hand.
And I will move on to the next one.
Comments are arriving from readers of “Chalice” as we approach the end of April. This continues to be a very valuable process.
There will be more rewriting than I’d hoped, and not at the ending, where I expected to put in the work. For the most part, readers affirm the conclusion of the novel. I was worried it would feel contrived. While there is still some tweaking, I am satisfied and reader response has been rewarding.
But several thoughtful people were so put off by the beginning that they did not believe a relationship could develop between the two characters. The irony is that this was intentional on my part.
I created an immediate conflict between the two to get a reader to invest and to display a difference in values. That was the “hook.” I think it is possible to start a friendship with a disagreement that can move to deeper discussion as people get to know one another. We enter relationships for many reasons, which is a major theme of the book.
But several readers reacted to this in a visceral way. If I want them to get past the first 70 pages, they need reasons besides an intellectual exercise. Several suggestions have been made, from an opening external crisis to simply toning down the personality. Perhaps more description of the allure will work.
We’ll see what the bookseller has to say, and there are other comments still to come in.
Choosing the style “epistolary novel” for Chalice brings some interesting responses, some positive, some negative. They may break down by age and sex and whether a reader has done any online dating.
One reader, who I respect very much, said he kept trying to read the letters as if they were dialogue and wanted to say “people don’t talk like this.”
While on the phone as we discussed this, I pointed out that his original letter to me about the book was quite well crafted. “I spent a lot of time on that,” he said, and immediately conceded that I “had him.” (He then went on to make some excellent points, with examples, of language he would change.)
Another reader, also male and my age, very much likes the direct exposure to the characters granted by using their own words and delusions to describe who they are (and are not!).
Two different women have said the early and easy intimacy is much more common and believable in the current world of electronic dating, email, etc. and they like the structure if not the characters.
It may turn out that Chalice is not for everybody, obvious a long time ago. It may require a different type of attention. I do hope it has value for readers who don’t know the story.
In the mean time, it is fascinating and rewarding to watch the direction of the final draft drop into focus.