Thursday, September 11, 2014

Clary of Cape Hope

I want to protect her.

Heather’s new novel, Clary of Cape May, is our first Forger baby, and I want to protect Clary from the unpredictable world of eBook publishing. That's only natural, right?

While no member of Fiction Forge can claim to be the father, Keith, Mike, and I (and another fine fella outside the blog) did extensive reviewing of Clary before Heather made a final revision (for the nth time) and registered Ms. Clary on Amazon.

Clary has left our safe arms.

I'd like to think Clary has Mike’s nose and Keith's chin...and my fab green eyes. But in truth, Clary is Heather's, through and through. That's fine. We'll settle as her doting, gay uncles (gay, in the old fashioned sense) and tease Clary over her crazy novel writing and that elusive Jonathan crush and her silly biking escapades through the picturesque Cape May. We'll kid her, but she'll know that we love her just the same.

Girls, I tell you!

Yes, I am proud of Clary like any uncle would be, but that’s to be expected. Reviewing Clary took a lot of perseverance and attentiveness and trust and, of course, time. A months' time, in fact. I learned a great deal from the experience, not only how to properly critique a novel, but how to critique with the end in mind. While that sounds Covey (and it probably is), I simply reminded myself that Heather had her own time commitment for revision and also had a goal: to publish. That meant making my recommendations clear and precise, not belabored and long-winded and "sharp", as a scalpel. Just as importantly, I accepted Clary as Heather's offspring, and not mine, so keeping an appropriate distance was never an issue for me. No problem on making suggestions that would have created more layers of sub-story and my own philosophical rantings. Nope. The process was very professional all the way through. Done, and...done!

Wrong. So wrong!

I made all of these errors! I actually had to keep reminding myself to review with the end in mind and stick within Heather's framework, and not mine. Indeed, I often had to pull myself out from under the story, because I'd get so wrapped up in Clary's plight that I'd forget to comment at all! On other occasions, I'd get so trite and bitchy and lost, that I'd start slashing away deeply with that scalpel as if my face lifting techniques were celeb.

I had to remind myself over and over again that Clary was not my girl, but Heather's.

I had to get a grip. Two weeks in and after a couple of consultations with Heather, I relearned how to moderate, yet retain my criticisms if under a constant fear of steering Clary wrong. Sounds bipolar, but you know what? Reviewing art is damn difficult, and breathing life into a novel before it enters the world is more than just a metaphor. It's serious responsibility. Yes, I enjoyed the thought of making a difference AND helping out a fellow writer who happens to be a fantastic friend even though the process scared the hell out of me.

In fact, now that Clary of Cape May is published, I have a whole new set of worries. How will Clary manage the world of Amazonia on her own? Will she be accepted for who she is: a Christian who lives in an age where a five year search for a true love seems all too unreal in this impatient, digital world? Will Clary be judged unfairly by her cover as Romance? Will she be welcomed into hundreds of warm homes, or will Clary be left on the boardwalks of Amazonia with no place to go?

I hope that many readers will discover Clary as interesting as I did. I hope readers will follow along her summertime Cape May wanderings, sympathize, maybe empathize, with her family turmoil and her self doubting and her sudden panics of feeling left behind, all alone, in her faith in God and in her pursuit of her Jonathan.

Yeah I know... I'm a doting Uncle. But, I've got to believe, beyond Forger uncles and caring aunts and supporting sisters and laudatory friends, that our Clary is quite able to stand on her own two feet.

I just need to set her free and hope for the best.

1 comment:

  1. Randy, I never thought of all of you as gay uncles. But I like it.