Friday, December 2, 2011

side effects

Injuries are not all bad. Since I began my shoulder rehabilitation, it has been much easier to glue my butt to my favorite chair and write for several hours at a time. Some days I don't write as much, but I'm seeing progress on a longer piece I'm working on. Is it a novel or novella? Time and a little guidance will tell.

I'm reminded of a novel I read while on my trip in October. The premise was great but I often felt the author was drawing out the story through needless repetition. Sometimes repetition works, but to me it bogged the story down. At the end of the book was a Q&A where the author explained that the novel had originally been a short story upon which he elaborated. Aha! I felt kind of cheated, like I should have been reading a series of short stories instead of a novel that didn't keep me awake in my tent.

So I'm trying to be careful with my story so that it keeps moving along. While I'd shared the premise of the story with Jon, I hadn't yet shown it to anyone. Then I had an unusual opportunity to edit a story for a friend. My friend Mika lives in Japan and travels the world as a journalist, including trips to the Middle East and other Asian regions. Her stories are published only in Japanese-language publications. This fall she made a trip to London to research a story about a male belly dancer of Turkish descent who had grown up on the island of Cyprus.

The dancer, named Ozgen, wanted to read her story, however Mika doesn't typically write in English so she asked if I would edit her translation. I read over her story trying at first to not think about what I would change, but just to get the sense of it. Despite instances where the word order was complicated and a few cases of missing pronouns and articles, I could usually understand what she was saying. In some cases, even though her word order didn't follow typical construct for English, I liked her descriptions better than any 'correction' I could have made. It seemed that changing it too much would have taken away her voice and her unique way of seeing things. I made my edits and emailed the revision along with a few questions I still had.

After she cleared up my questions and sent the story to Ozgen, she told me he'll be posting it on his website. I haven't seen it there yet, but you can find some pretty cool videos of him dancing!

Now, about the 'time and guidance' I mentioned earlier. I asked Mika if she could provide some advice to me on the story I'm writing. The one that may be a novel. Because some of the characters are in Japan, and because it deals with historical & contemporary issues, I've asked if she can confirm some of the elements of the story. I'm concerned about the sense of place and how I represent the characters. While I'm trying to decide when to schedule a visit, my research has been limited to the internet and the Loussac library. Both are helpful, but there's nothing like being there.

With a commitment made, I spent the early part of this week cleaning up a draft of the first section of the book before I emailed it (along with a list of my intentions and concerns) to Mika on Thursday. This is the farthest I've gotten in creating a work of fiction longer than my many unresolved short stories. But, now I feel compelled to finish it. Mika has promised to help, telling me most eloquently: "It is important to have readers as an escort runner to finish the book." I await her edits.

2 comments:

selfpropelledlifestyle said...

Good luck with your novel.

Amish Stories said...

Greetings from an Amish community in Pennsylvania, I'm just checking out different blogs and thought id leave a comment. Happy holidays to everyone as well. Richard from Amish Stories