After my post about being a product writer versus a process writer, several people suggested I dust my finished literary novel off and get it out in the world.
I spent seven years writing and revising BODY COPY, and it’s sitting dormant in a Word file on my computer. Naomi and Anthony pointed out that it’s important to put a finished manuscript out in the world. “Seven years of blood, sweat, and tears is too big an investment not to reap the reward,” Naomi said in her comment.
I’m not prepared to delve back into my small-town newspaper novel immediately, but I’m certainly thinking about taking another pass at it with the idea of seeking publication. I’d probably first jump back into the agent search, but I’ve heard such horror stories lately that I’d also consider an ebook or indie publishing.
My reluctance to try an ebook has to do with the fact that genre books seem to be in more demand in that arena than literary fiction.
BODY COPY is definitely a blend of women’s and literary fiction. The plot is fairly commercial. My narrator is a 20-something woman starting over in a new town after her friend’s death. It’s about roommates and boyfriends and finding one’s voice. But the language is definitely literary. Maybe it would make more sense to court some small presses, although I’m sure they’re slammed with submissions, especially now that the bigger houses are buying so few manuscripts.
I’m sharing the first page of BODY COPY here today so I can ask this question: Are there ebook fans who would read this kind of literary/commercial hybrid? If you read literary fiction, do you ever read ebooks? I’d love any thoughts you may have.
Body CopyBy Laura Stanfill
I cannot be your friend, so skip the smalltalk when you answer the door. Khakis with a plain shirt tell you nothing about me. That’s my uniform. When we shake hands in your living room, read my life line. Read how I wear no rings. I am not your mother or your sister or your friend and no, I don’t want to sleep with you. I am nobody you’re supposed to know.
What takes over between us, in the empty space, is your story. Today that’s all we have in common. My questions tug at the tail of your narrative. It’s your job to trace its ribcage and teeth. There’s enough ink in my bag to last for hours. Once we’re done, I close my notebook and say goodbye.
Your voice plays in my head as I dig in my bag for keys and wonder whether there’s time to stop for an iced coffee. My job is to print your life in black and white. Color if it’s a slow news week. The next time you hear from me will be my translation of who you are.
What you worry about most is whether that juicy grin floated up in you again, first documented at a family picnic in 1971 when you stole your little brother’s watermelon slice, your mouth pink with victory. Outside the frame your brother beats the grass, not knowing the word for thief. That’s your real smile. My camera grabbed the bone of it. You apologized. You weren’t ready. I took ten more shots to please you. But that first photo’s what my editor expects: gold.
On Wednesday morning, when you find yourself in the paper, verbs pumped and sloppy words dropped, strong light on your jaw, quite a nice picture actually, you’ll realize the whole town sat on your couch on a hot afternoon at the thirsty end of summer, wearing khakis and a plain shirt, saying no thanks to that tall glass of mint iced tea, because one sip would have broken the thread of your story and returned us, without question or apology, to the present.