The Third or the First?

As I said in my last post, I have been told that my writing is too complex; that some readers found it difficult to understand, that they felt the archaic language stopped them finding any relatable aspect within the character. So, after a borderline hissy fit, in which I somewhat took the piss, I started re-writing The Caitiff into a form which you readers may well prefer.

As a brief example, the first draft of end of my first chapter was read :

I wished then, as I am wont to do, that I was a character, one of substance or not. I wish I was the tortured product of some cowardly intellect, or the hero of my very own narrative. I wish that love was a certainty in my future. That some wealthy heiress or widow would find within me something to desire, even if that object does require some discovering. I wish, at my most basic level, that my life had been a lie, a fiction for the entertainment of creatures so high above me in reason and wit that they find joy in my existence. I wish that I had those creatures to worship, to fear, to rage against. I wish I had a superior to fight, some formless entity to murder.

But, even as I allow myself to dream, my grip loosens on the glass. It fell through the air, trailing the occasional droplet of water caught within its personal gravity. It hit the bottom of the sink at a curve, rolling along the wide basin of stainless steel. Had this, my very existence, been a fiction as I desired, wholly for the entertainment of others, then that glass would have shattered. A brief flash of drama, the explosion of excitement on the horizon would follow every shard. One would, no doubt, rocket up as though driven by some intelligent urge, into my hand.

I would have bled and healed and scarred, I would have to spend the next few days with one hand wrapped in a bandage. No doubt, when my ire was raised as I finally came to face my antagonist, it would have begun to shake and bleed again. If my life was a fiction, I would have something to say, some witticism or animalistic noise to fill the sudden silence after the cessation, the quiet that became the loudest sound.

But, it wasn’t. And I didn’t. So I left the glass where it lay, and I went to bed.

Whereas my more recent draft reads:

He wished he was a character. He wished he was the product of some tortured intellect or some cowardly genius. He wanted to be the hero of his very own narrative. He wished that love was a certainty in his future; that some wealthy heiress or widow would find within him something to love, even if that love has to be discovered. He often dreamed that his life had been a lie, a fiction, for the entertainment of creature so high above him in reason and wit that they might find some joy in his existence.

Amory wished he had those creatures to worship, to be afraid of, to rage against. He wished he had an inarguable superior; some formless entity to murder. Some vaguely defend enemy against which he could march.

The glass fell out of his hand. Time seemed to slow as gravity exerted itself. The glass rolled through the air, trailing droplets of what little water had escaped Amory’s voracious thirst.

It hit the bottom of the sink at a curve, spinning along the wide basin of stainless steel. Had this, he thought, my very existence been a fiction as I desired, this glass would hit the bowl straight, and it would shatter. It would be a brief flash of drama, an explosion of excitement trailing after every flying shard. He imagined one such shard flying upwards, driven by the malice of those creatures above him, piercing the flesh of his hand. He could feel the pain such a thing would impose, could see the bloody hole it left there. He would bleed and he would heal; he would scar and spend the next few days with a bandage wrapped around his hand.

If my life was a fiction, he thought, I would have something to say. Some witticism or animalistic noise to fill the sudden silence, the quiet that became the loudest sound.

But it wasn’t. And he didn’t. So he left the glass where it lay, and he went to bed.

As you can see, I’ve shrunk sentences down, removed some completely and changed the voice from 1st person (the voice which I prefer to write), to 3rd person (which I sometimes prefer to read).

Still, I am caught in a certain phase of doubt. Should I write to please the reader, as in, write how they want me to write, or do I write how I would like to write. Whilst I would like my work to be read and, if I am being completely honest, convince them to think a little more about the world in which they live, should I not write as they want me to write?

Do I sacrifice a percentage of what I am trying to do in order to make sure the rest of that percentage is consumed by the reader?

Or do I say ‘Fuck it all’, I will do as I desire and let the world think what it will?

At the minute, I don’t know. I am caught between the two. My every fibre of being screams at me to do as I desire, to write how I feel the narrative needs to be written, but my logic argues against it. I really don’t know what to do so, at the minute, I am rewriting what I wrote in 1st-person into the 3rd. At the very least, it might help me gain some insight into the exact voice I would use for the 3rd.

What do you guys think? Do you have a preference either way? Or should I scrap the whole thing and burn every word I have written down?

In other news, my latest Literary ‘Experiment’, in which I attempt to create something inspired by London Pleasures, is going fairly well. I have a couple of pages of possible stanzas, though there is no garauntee that they will end up in the actual poem, which will be nowhere near as long as I would like it to have been.

5 thoughts on “The Third or the First?

    1. You’re right, of course; it would be dishonest of me to warp the way I feel something needs to be presented simply because it might appeal to a wider audience.
      For all that writing in the modern world is a desperate, money-grabbing affair, there is always the vague notion of Art to be considered.
      Thanks for prefering the one which gives me more joy!

  1. I am in the middle of God Metaphor and am staggered by your writing. It took me a few pages to become comfortable with your style, but not because there was anything wrong with it. The writing is intense and passionate, and your connections and insights are witty and clever. I admire your work very much.

    I would just do what comes naturally. If no one likes it, to hell with them. That is, unless you want to make money from writing–then I’m sure agents will ask you to submit to a more mainstream style. :-/

    1. Thanks for the kind words, though I’m certain the great literary public would disagree with you on the ‘intense’, ‘passionate’, ‘witty’ and ‘clever’ parts. I appreciate you actually taking the time to read the thing!

      1. I think as long as you write what is true, really true to the guts, people will respond to it. By what I’ve read so far, I think you are well on your way. You do have the passion and your writing will develop organically; so long as you don’t give up.

        I know I have a long way to go to find my true voice. I don’t expect to be any good until I’m sixty!

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