“A thousand dreams within me softly burn.” --Arthur Rimbaud
A few nights ago, I finished rereading the crazy dream book. This is something I wrote because I knew I had to - because if I didn't, it would become one of those things I'd always think about and wonder if I could have made it work. And now that I've reread the whole thing, I'm left with more questions than when I started.
These aren't bad questions, though they leave me wondering if it's worth it to spend more time working on this book. In general, I like it. There are some repetitive parts; the main character continues to reflect on how weird things are even after she's come to accept that she's inside someone else's dream. Of the eleven characters who make up the cast, only three or four of them get any significant development, and too much of it is right before they leave the story forever. Also, the structure of a series of duels leading to the grand finale leads to the story feeling like it's deliberately stalling between the duels, even though we learn most of the important plot points during that time.
And I hate to say it, but my biggest fear about this book did in fact come to pass: it's just not weird enough.
On the plus side, the weird parts work really well. Much of it feels like we're seeing a tiny piece of an unexplained mythology. One of the characters, her bizarre nature is never truly explained, but she comes off as damaged and sympathetic. Another character who loves being in the dream because he can be exactly who he wants to be has a particularly difficult scene when he's forced to wake up. And the ending, warped and surreal as it is, really works.
So there's potential here. It will need work to be a book worth reading, and I think I'll need to switch it to first person perspective, to really delve into the main character's head. (Which will lead to some serious problems with the ending, but I'm getting ahead of myself.) But there are a lot of things about the story I'm just not sure about, things I don't know if I can fix.
As cynical as it sounds, I'm also wondering if I should invest more time and effort in a story that, odds are good, would never sell.
I know I'm at the stage where I should be writing whatever I want, because I don't have any deadlines or obligations or anything of the sort, and it's impossible to know what's going to work out. I'm sure there are more than a few authors who've been in this same place and the book they thought would never sell turned out to be the one that started their career. But this book has always felt like the sort of thing that would just be too damn odd for any publisher to pick up, and knowing I'll have to make it weirder to make it work right doesn't help.
Fortunately, I don't have to make this decision right away. I've taken down some notes on possible changes, and I'm going to see if I can figure out how to make this thing work the way I think it should. I keep hoping to have some sudden flash of inspiration and somehow know exactly what to change and how. If I can figure it out, cool. If not, no worries; at least I gave it a shot and won't have to wonder how it would have turned out.
If I do decide to rewrite it, I'm thinking about doing that for NaNoWriMo this year, both since I've never actually participated in NaNo and because I know a NaNo project isn't something I'd take seriously as a potential book to sell.
Or I could write this ridiculous idea I had on Monday, which is easily one of the stupidest concepts I've ever come up with but the pitch line alone would probably sell it. >_<