Revising the Aphra Behn time travel

After completing the first draft of Island of Glass, I started on revisions of Chameleon in a Mirror, my popular literature homage to Aphra Behn. Commercially, this one will probably be a washout, since it’s balancing on so many chairs, and none of them comfortably. The subject matter is literary history, but the approach is conventional, accessible, with nothing much innovative to challenge the reader. I certainly don’t have anything against innovation — I’ve written hyperfiction, after all, and the single Nebula nomination I’ve garnered was for a short story told in a series of computer database entries.

But the thing is, even though she was revolutionary, the first professional woman writer in the English language, Aphra Behn was nothing if not accessible. Her plays drew large crowds. Certainly, she messed with the conventions of her male contemporaries, she did wonderful things with the trope of the innocent heroine, and she made the bad-girl whore so sympathetic, it makes it hard to root whole-heartedly for the spunky heroine. But while she wrote the first epistolary novel in the English language, she wasn’t experimenting for experiment’s sake, she was venturing in to a new medium, the long prose narrative, and trying to find an effective way to tell a story.

I think I’ve mentioned before that I regard Aphra Behn as the Steven Spielberg of her era. So while some might think a “literary figure” like Aphra would deserve a “literary” treatment, I think she deserves a gripping plot with lots of twists and turns and surprises, just as she once delivered to the Restoration audience of the Duke’s Company. I doubt if my time travel will do her justice, and it will probably suffer just as much from too much Literature as it will from not enough Literariness. As if that weren’t enough, it’s undeniably a stand-alone novel — there is no way I can turn it into a series. Which is the form which seems to be most likely to lead to success in this brave new publshing world.

But it’s important for me to finally finish this project of my heart, and I’m glad to be working on it again.

I did lose a day with a stupid mistake — the version I started editing at first was an older version that apparently I had open to consult while I wrote the new version last year. It took a couple of hours of frustration with myself at the writing being so much less polished than I’d expected before I checked the directory again and found the REAL new version. Sigh. I must find a better method of naming my files, obviously. But at least now I’m a little more inclined to believe that I really am still capable of learning as a writer and haven’t hit some kind of wall where I can’t see my own mistakes. 🙂

Despite the false start, I’ve managed to revise 70 pages of 350 this week (a manuscript of 110,000 words total). I’m good with that. I’ve also been working on the next group promo, which I will officially announce tomorrow. Watch this space!

I also spent most of a day creating a new page on my blog for my books. If you have time, please check it out and tell me what you think!

Wishing everyone a very productive and successful week. 🙂

17 thoughts on “Revising the Aphra Behn time travel”

  1. Wow, your book on Aphra Behn sounds interesting. I liked how you described it as the book of your heart too.
    I’ve had to recently sit down and reorganise the documents on my lap top so I stop confusing myself with older versions of things. I feel your pain with that!

    1. Thanks, Debbie! Normally I’m very good about naming versions in such a way I don’t confuse, but this time I failed. 😦 At least now I know the new version is better than the old! *g*

  2. OHMIGAWSH! I love this I love this I love this! So many people don’t even know who Aphra Behn WAS!! And here you are revering her in your book. I want to shout from the rooftops in delight! Its funny, when I got to this link I thought, “Wow, I haven’t visited Ruth in forever!” and now that I am here… I am so grateful I did!! Loud applause….a big ROUND of applause and then some!

  3. I reckon books that don’t fit into a particular designation are ahead of the game because, 1 )any book has a 50/50 chance of succeeding (ie they either will or they won’t) and, 2) the market is in such flux that who knows what tomorrow’s acceptable designation will be!!!

    It’s always good for the ego to discover we’re better writers than we fear we are! 😀 … maybe add the start date to each doc’s title?
    Excellent new page. I always like to read about the books on the authors website.

    … here’s a thought, to personalise each blurb a bit. just a sentence or two. Maybe something like … ‘this is one my favourites because …’ or … ‘doing the research for this book I discovered that …’

  4. I loved your reflection here, Ruth 😀 It sounds like it’s going to be amazing no matter what! You’re making what you think is the best choice for your piece, which I’m sure is the story you were meant to tell. Glad you’re on the right version now. I can never keep it straight either so I date them all in the document name. Have a great week!

  5. I’m shockingly uneducated and feel myself about to dive into Google for information on this remarkable sounding historical figure. How exciting to write a story based on her. Regarding files – I must have gathered around thirty on Finding Esta at one point – Scrivener ones, Doc. ones, then all the different formats, then all the different stages of edit, all the separate chapters… blah! And this doesn’t include the Backup files which my computer creates of every file I have! I cleaned out all the but the final Scrivener and Doc. recently, because I think it added to the situation I’ve recently had with my MS. I’m also looking at the Snowflake software (instead of Scrivener, because it scares me now. Shame, because it’s good for organisation). Hopefully, I’ll get to use SF more productively, less drastically!

    Best of luck with it all Ruth. 😀

    1. That’s too bad about Scrivener, Shah. Maybe if you described the problem you had on the Literature and Latte forum and and requested that they add a confirmation option? The developers really work *with* their users.

  6. Ruth, your description of this book is so phenomenal–if I could write the way you describe, I would be one happy author! And don’t get me started on documents–I finally have the right one figured out, why do I have all these copies?

  7. I play word games with titles, or number them, which usually but not always helps….

    I bought Yseult, and it is now part of my ever-growing Kindle reading list….

    I love that you are writing the book you long to write. =D I have decided to go all in with my Trek fan fiction ans claim it for similar reasons….I COULD tell Jeniah’s story without Spock in it, but Trek was the inspiration and the birthplace of her world. I am not ashamed of that – I think both worlds are richer because of it, and I have a sweeping, decades-long epic in the works.. I’ll give the fanfic away free (how I’m not yet sure), and those who want can put them with the Weft books, and have a different experience than if they only read half of the story…

    I love your book page, and also Widdershins’ idea of a personal comment. That page is a glimpse into my own someday, and your now.

    1. Thanks, Shan! I hope you enjoy Yseult. I know a lot of people think it’s pretty heavy reading, both the subject matter and the Celtic terms, but it too was a book I wanted to write. 🙂

      1. Heavy doesn’t scare me, and my parents named me Shannon, after the river, and so I have always had a connection of sorts with Celtic culture.

        I really enjoyed Sarum – but that was before I had children….

        I am really looking forward to it, although it may take some time to get to it in my personal queue….

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