Friday, April 30, 2010

The voices in my head disagree...

So I’ve received my first rejection letter (email!) on my novel. Again with the point-of-view issues! Just when I think I’ve got it figured out and corrected, POV knocks me out. My grad program mentor offered her usual pointed advice, in the psychoanalyst question form: “Who is the narrator of your novel?...Writer and narrator are not the same thing…who is telling your story and why?”

Granted, she does offer more than just questions, but I’m still stuck. I thought I was writing third-person omniscient, but I’ve been told I waffle between that and what she calls “fly-on-the-wall” narration. I understand the concepts (I think); now if I could just figure out how they differ in the actual text.

The most difficult part of all this learning-the-craft process is that as soon as I think I’ve got a handle on the rules, occasionally breaking them judiciously only to get slapped down for it, I pick up a book or literary journal that does exactly what I’ve been told not to do. Learning which of those ‘lessons’ to heed and which to ignore is mind-boggling. And all too often it depends on who the reader is at any given point.

I’m waiting for a final read of my current thesis novel draft by my academic advisor. Which broken or misunderstood rule(s) will she hone in on? If it’s the same ones picked out by other readers, I guess I need to pay attention. But what of those oddities noted by one reader but not another? I have a number of those issues as well. I thought I had learned to be discerning in my acceptance of critique, but once again my confidence is faltering. I don’t trust my talent enough. I don’t give enough weight to the skill I’ve gained in thirty-plus years of writing. I don’t believe in myself, especially when someone whom I consider to be an authority disagrees with me. Even though sometimes, deep down, I think I might be right.

Who is the narrator of my novel? I thought I was, as the omniscient overseer of my fantasy world. If not, then the voices in my head have some ‘splaining to do…and I hope they do it soon.

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