Thursday, October 04, 2007

Review of the 'Okraalom effort'

Review of the 'Okraalom effort' so far.
To self-publish a 500 plus novel is an immense task, rather like a composer - my uncle Douglas - for instance - writing one of this three symphonies. But whereas my uncle lived all his life for music and had no family, that has been far from the situation I have been in, in producing 'Okraalom'. I had a paid editor forthe semi-final draft, and I had some help from my elderly sister, and nicely done decorative illustrations from my niece, but basically this has been a lonely enterprise. It lacked the 'tight' back-up and supervisory encouragement I needed to make it a success. I produced it while living alone and therefore having to manage my own household, and having young grandchildren living close-by who needed my input into their lives.

The result has been rather a mess! The 150copies of 'Okraalom' were full of (mostly) small errors, and have cost me endless hours of effort to produce reasonably 'respectable' copies by hand-correction. Unfortunately, a lot of copies were already distributed with varying degrees of correctedness. I don't really know how much the large number of 'errata' influenced its reception - whether, for instance, the newspaper re-viewers were influenced to ignore the book by the frequency of errors. Of course there are lots of other factors that enter into why they might not regard it as worth their while promoting.

Despite the trouble with it, I have no doubt that 'Okraalom' is a great story, with some very interesting historical insights and characterizations, and would potentially make a magnificent film. Nevertheless, it will probably end up with most of the copies moldering in my shed (as would-be self-publishers are often warned!), and about a third of theuncorrected copies sent to the dump.

Under all sorts of prevailing conditions which I could describe but won't, the writer in my position stands very little chance of recognition (unless he or she is nothing short of a genius). I'm too old to be a 'starter' writer, have no 'intimate' backer (such as Tolsoi, for instance, had in his wife), and have no socially recognized distinction to hang a claim on as an important contributer to the literacy scene. But there's a chink of light in all this: (1)what I have learned from my mistakes (2) the character of the alreadybegun second novel. By re-framing it a little, it could become a 'Buddhist'novel (the ending of Okraalom points to that anyway), and then, like my Christian clerical friend Michael, I would start ofwith new possibilities in having it professionally published, and with an already 'committed' readership, as micheal had through the Church. I don't particularly like the idea of putting my writing under a 'religious flag', but I can't see any alternative at the present. I am intrigued by a mention by the Chan / 'Pure Land' Chinese school (where I am practically amember of the their temple) of the 'Eastern Pure Land', Unlike the 'Western', where you hope to go for rebirth, the 'Eastern' is how this down-to-earth world would and should be, if Buddhist ethics and 'life-science' became the norm.


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