I’m not yet at a point where I hate my Cornish Detective series, but I’ve noticed a change in attitude to the stories. Starting out on Book 6, I’m still excited, loving how my thoughts are taken over by the plot and how my main character reacts. What I dislike about extending his character arc is caused by commercial considerations—will this be acceptable to readers? I’m bullheaded and outspoken at times but have moderated these traits to create what I hope will be popular stories. This means I’m starting to see Detective Chief Inspector Neil Kettle as a brand, making me feel trapped.
I’m fond of him, but I prefer other characters who appeared in short stories and novellas, such as Art Palmer, an American Civil War veteran travelling through the Deep South in the Reconstruction era. I’ll write his third story next spring.
I don’t hate my writing while in the process of creating an 80,000-word manuscript. If something doesn’t work, I don’t beat myself up, I change it. I’m less keen on the story when editing it, or perhaps less enamoured of myself when I see how many repetitions, excessive commas and typos I’ve included.
Querying literary agents is an exercise in being civil and enthusiastic while trying to describe my book as saleable. It’s not an enjoyable process being a supplicant, but I don’t doubt myself or hate my book.
It’s surprising how many famous novels were hated by their creators. Tolstoy with War and Peace and Anna Karenina, Peter Benchley with Jaws, Anthony Burgess with A Clockwork Orange and Annie Proulx with Brokeback Mountain. It’s not so much the story that they abhor, more how society reacted to it and how that affected their reputation as a writer. It’s a form of typecasting. Whatever genre J. K. Rowling may write in the future, she’ll remain famous for one character.