I was looking through the draft of the book I wrote about my mom last winter/spring, hoping to find a stand-alone excerpt I could publish on this site. I haven't looked at it since May, and reading it now I realized, I don't like this book. Not for the usual reasons -- I actually like the writing well enough here, the words and sentences are okay, and there are a few nice insights and good lines. But the story, pacing, characters, and especially the tone -- yuck. And I'm not being modest here*:
1. A lot of it is long, frustrating conversations with doctors and social workers, which nobody needs to relive in detail, not even me, and I had a stake in them.
2. The characters are unlikable, and they don't evolve over the course of the book. Nobody wants to spend 275 pages with my mother, me fuming at her side -- if you were there in the waiting room of the doctor's with us, you would excuse yourself to go find a water fountain and get lost for twenty minutes. It's not a fun scene in person, or on the page.
3. Holy shit, is it angry. Not just angry, but bitter. Recriminatory, written with a grudge and an agenda, which is something you can do in a first draft if it helps get you to the end, but then you have to rewrite it. I already rewrote this one, and it's just as furious as the first draft, with an extra edge of resignation. Whee! I kept telling people, "It's not Eat Pray Love! It's Eat Shit and Die!" But who wants to read 275 of shit-eating? (Please don't answer that. I have enough tsuris with the pee freaks who make up a full third of this blog audience. [Another story I probably shouldn't have published...])
The other thing: I am so much happier not working on this book. I like my new project so much more than this one. I am so grateful that this book was turned down, because it's not my best work, and I'd regret it if it were coming out next year.
I think I'm going to sit on it for a few more months and see how I feel about it then. It would be nice if six months of work didn't go to waste -- I wanted to at least get a few blog posts out of the draft, if nothing else -- but I have a feeling this book was something I needed to write, and not something I need to publish.
Good thing nobody's asking me to publish it!
(* Like I usually am! How modest of me, to acknowledge my own modesty!)