Reliquary aka My First Novel

I recently had a short story accepted for publication in a really cool literary journal.  I'll give more information on that closer to when it will be released.

Anyway, the editor who selected my short story told me that she also works for a publishing house who are looking for novels, and that if I had one I should send it their way.  The publisher she works for generally publishes literary fiction, with a smattering of what I would call intellectual non-fiction.  To the point, I could rule out "Master of the House," as it's a YA book.

I do have a literary fiction book, though.  It's called "Reliquary."  I wrote the first draft ten years ago.

"Reliquary" has gotten polishes from me here and there throughout the years.  In fact, the last set of edits I did to it I never bothered to actually make, they just remained as marks on the pages, never making it to the computer.  At one point I changed the title, until I mentioned it to someone and they proclaimed my original title to be wonderfully unique, so I changed it back (truth be told, I never really wanted to change it, but felt that I had to for whatever reason).

When I found out that the aforementioned publishing house was looking for novels, I pulled out "Reliquary."  I knew that, aside from making those edits that had gone unchanged, I would need to read through the whole thing again, because it had been a few years since I'd read through it.  A few weeks ago, I started in on the 284 page manuscript...

...it was awful.  Well, the first sixty pages or so were awful.  It's gotten progressively less awful (I'm only 150 pages in as of this writing), but that doesn't say much.

It's melodramatic.  It's self-important.  On a line level, the writing is often very bad.  It absolutely destroyed me to read it.

"Reliquary" was written in the first person and it's very much a reflection of who I was ten years ago.  It's far more fiction than non, but there are strong elements of real life at play.  The problem is that I'm not that person anymore.  I'm not sad and angry.  I'm actually pretty damn happy.

But the story in "Reliquary" is solid.  I've often struggled with plots and this book has one that is in great shape.  Nothing at all about the point A to point B business needs to be changed.  I stand by the events in the book and the order in which they happen.

The bones are good.  The meat and muscle need a lot of work.

I resigned myself to more or less rewriting it using the current version as a framework.  Last night I took it a step further.  Last night I decided that the entire thing should be written in the 3rd person.

At first, I thought switching from 1st person to 3rd would be relatively easy.  I was already planning on rewriting most of the book, so switching POV wasn't a big deal.  But, of course, as I started writing it I realized that the new narrative required changes in structure.  You can deliver an awful lot of exposition in subtle ways when you're writing in the 1st person because it doesn't come across as exposition, at least not if you're careful.  You can give details of your life in a single paragraph in the 1st person, but if you try the same thing in the 3rd person, it comes off as tedious exposition.

The appeal of switching POVs is that 1st person lends itself to melodrama.  I figured telling the same story from a subjective 3rd person would allow me to keep the story and lose the melodrama, leaving me with exactly what I wanted.  But the main character spends an awful lot of time by himself, and those scenes are going to become really, really tedious if he's not narrating them.

But damn if melodrama isn't my biggest concern.  I feel like first person accounts of love and relationships, blah blah blah, etc. are the kiss of death.  I feel like they're almost immediately disposable.  Hey, this guy wants to be Holden Caufield and this writer wants to be JD Salinger!

At it's core, though, "Reliquary" is a love story.  And maybe it's the whiskey talking, but I think I have my answer.  I know it's possible to write in the 1st person and not be melodramatic.  I'd like to think I've done that in a few short stories recently.  They're certainly much less melodramatic than this book.

"Reliquary" is uniquely me at a specific point in my life and I think there's value in that.

First person it is.