Thursday, 16 July 2015

Take Wing

Ahead of the Storm by Rob Dreyer

There, on the horizon, I saw a sight that curdled my heart. It was a sight we had seen once before, many years past. The clouds were building quickly into a tower of twisting black tendrils, eclipsing the light of the sun. Waves broiled, smashing themselves upon the rocks and rising higher until they met our feet. 
It scared me to see the terror in my sister’s eyes, she who had protected us and given us strength all those many long nights. I thought on how different our world might have been had we lived our natural lives. I would have become a warrior, riding proud alongside Caílte, able to protect Fionnuala with a sword in one hand and a spear in the other. She would have feared nothing. 
Thinking on that brought me strength. 
As the storm approached, it was I who spread my wings, sheltering my brothers beneath them and Fin at my breast.

It is utterly amazing what a little positive feedback can do.

I will admit to having been in a bit of a flump since finishing my last novel. I wasn't sure quite what I had created. It had been a motif in my mind for many years. Originally, I wrote it as a film script in 2008, but I couldn't get anyone to read it in that format, so last year I turned to fiction.

It was a story I couldn't shake. Like a song that gets stuck in your head, sometimes you have to sing it aloud to loosen its hold. Since putting the story to paper, I've been able to write other things. But I wasn't sure what would become of the manuscript.

It's not without its problems. I set out to write third person singular, and ended up with first person multiple. 'Beautifully written, but...' came the response.

Yes, but. I thought. 

It was hard to put it out there after Rosy Hours, which was such an accomplishment for me. Children of Lir is such a very different sort of story, with very different characters, set in a very different genre - from 1850s Northern Iran to Iron Age Ireland. 

It's still doing the rounds with readers, but the other day I had a lovely e-mail from my friendly editor with some feedback. What she told me of one reader's response was glowing. Yes, not without its issues, as we knew, but also with real promise. Coming from someone who understood the genre, that meant a lot. 

As an author (or is that a sensitive pragmatist?) you come to expect the worst. All the world's a critic, and usually quite a vocal one. I was already considering e-publishing routes and serialised blog posts, then in the space of one e-mail I did a little leap for joy and started thinking on the pleasure of a good cover design. 

I poured a cup of coffee and nestled down to re-read this manuscript I had been avoiding. It was as though I were reading through fresh eyes. Before, I saw faults. Now, I see promise. The characters spoke louder, the descriptive seemed richer, and the plot fell more comfortably into place. I am now convinced that I have actually written something worth reading, saved from becoming my second bottom-drawer folly.

It's a hideous reality that authors are like cyclopes. We can see quite clearly the potential, or problems, of other people's writing, but when it comes to our own, we are blind. Because of this, we rely on the wisdom of others to tell us whether we've got it right or not. 

Thankfully, one good review can disperse the clouds of a dozen uncertainties. 

Habent sua fata libelli.

In the wake of this, my hopes for the book are rejuvenated. I hope to be able to make a happy announcement in September. 

Orina Kafe

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