Monthly Archives: June 2015

In Search of the Readers

This morning I put the finishing touches on Dust‘s second draft. Looking over it, I find the work still a ways from where I want it, certainly from where I originally envisioned it, but more experienced writers tell me that’s how every work will prove to be. Still, it’s a vast improvment over the first draft and, as debuts go, I’m exceedingly proud of it.

Publication is, I firmly believe, in this novel’s future, but one last, critical step remains: it must be read. So I’m looking for readers.

Over the course of writing Dust I have had many people who kindly read and proofed excerpts, and an ample helping of those generous folks’ suggestions have already been incorporated. This is the first time I will be offering the full, more or less complete text. The analysis and editorial help I receive here will be the final stage before publication.

So here’s the skinny. Dust is a big novel. Just under 170,000 words, clocking it at 540 manuscript pages. Now that’s not a true monster, nor even close to the largest most of you have read, but it’s no breeze-through-on-a-lazy-afternoon either. Size wise that’s around The Fellowship of the Ring, and quite a bit larger than both The Two Towers, and The Return of the King. 

I’m eager for editorial help from those who have the time and inclination, and how you want to do that is entirely up to you: you could directly mark up the Word file, I could set up an editable Google Doc for you, or you can even take a red pen to a printout, high school teacher style. You don’t even have to get all editorial, just reading it and giving me your thoughts on the entire work if you’d prefer, in whatever manner is most comfortable for you.

I ask only two things. Firstly, that readers have the time and willingness to read and get back to me in a relatively timely manner, preferebly a month, let’s say two on the outside. I’ll also be whipping up a list of questions related to some of my chief concerns about the current state of the novel, but whether you want to actually answer them will be up to you.

My second request, and this is the more important of the two, please be honest with your criticism. I need to know what is working and what isn’t, and by sparing my feelings in regard to something you don’t care for you’ll be doing me no favors.

So, if you want to read what I think is a pretty good story, and get your own copy when it’s published down the line, just contact me here on WordPress or Facebook, or email me directly at wesharpsmith@gmail.com.


Updates

Between work and moving into a house–not to mention the million little unanticpated tasks those both bring–I haven’t been a prolific poster. I have managed at  least to remain an overall prolific writer, at least, and for an up and coming aspiring professional that is no small thing.

So then, what’s been occupying my schedule? In my brand new house is a brand new office, and from that wonderfully isolated work space I have nearly completed draft 2 of Dust. Ten chapters, or about 20% of the manuscript remains to be finished, and work is coming along nicely. After that I’ll need to recruit two or three readers to go over it (wonderful as my wife is, she can’t do everything), give it that last layer of polish, and than it’s off to be published. Easy peasy.

Heh heh; we’ll see. I’m very confident in it as debut though, no question on that. If you haven’t already, you can read the first chapter here.

I’ve also been working quite a lot on my second novel, Citadel. Despite the likewise single word title it’s not related in any way to Dust. In fact, where Dust is a sort of post-apocalyptic literary Western, Citadel is my take on the fantasy novels of my youth. An extremely low fantasy–as in no magic at all–it features multiple POV characters in a tight third person, as compared to Dust‘s entirely first person narrative. With all the characters, setting, and plotting, this one is much larger beast to plan out than Dust, but that work is going extremely smoothly. 

I’ve actually written roughly five chapters of Citadel so far, the second of which I submitted to the Spring 2015 Meacham’s Writer’s Conference for review. Well, I must be doing something right with this, because in it’s nascent form that chapter was enough to earn me the 2015 Ken Smith award for prose. I’ll give it another layer of polish before I throw it up for you, my darling readers, to peruse.

So that’s me, still trying to figure out how to balance the past few month’s productivity with keeping this site up to date. To be honest, self-promotion has never been a strength of mine. I have a difficult time envisioining Harlan Ellison, or Hemingway, or any of my inspirations having anything but contempt for the idea of promoting yourself, rather than letting your work do it for you, but hey; all those folks are dead or old, so eff ’em.

I’ve given some thought to a regular feature, maybe something a little lighter than the usual literary talk, to keep me engaged with you. I’d love to hear any suggestions you may have. Of course, nothing succeeds in America like success, so getting the novel finished and published must remain the priority.

Take care until next time and, as always, remember: words matter.