On Hating Spring, and a Nasty cosmic "IT", by Enid Richemont

Everyone, at present, seems to be sharing the delights of Spring - that feeling of renewal, the flowering, Spring blossoms. Someone on Facebook invited friends to share, in one word, their response to this season, and out they popped, like seedlings resurrected by the sun - crocuses, daffodils, budding leaves, snowdrops etc etc. There was only one negative word - 'death'. It was mine.

Stravinksy saw Spring synonymous with violence and death. Somebody - was it him? - described the sound of the ice cracking on the Volga as being like the slashing of a blade. And then, we have THE RITES OF SPRING, and, of course, Easter, which isn't really about bunnies and chicks, but about a horrendous form of death followed by the myth (or not, depending on your beliefs) of the resurrection. Spring, for me, has always been about death and violence. Yet I was married in Spring, and our two children were born in Spring.  Then the man I loved died suddenly, two years ago, in Spring - so for me, it's still a season of high drama, cruelty, death and re-birth. I wonder if Stephen King, or any other horror writer, has ever deliberately set any of their work in early Spring for these reasons?

We have recently lost the incomparable Terry Pratchett, with his gigantic imagination, and the world is a poorer place without him - except that his books live on, and I hope will never go out of print. I've recently been rereading THE SCIENCE OF DISCWORLD, and yes, of course, our planet and its inhabitants are all actually part of an experiment run by the Unseen University - who could doubt it? And in recent months, I've found myself wondering if 'God' isn't a rather unpleasant little cosmic programmer who's decided that we're getting a bit too canny for our boots.  People living longer, cures for plagues, and a general feeling that we should be nice to each other and even take care of our planet? Boring, boring, and worrying, too - where is Its place in all this? So It's been stirring things up a bit. Nasty.

Two small, but positive, book-related things have emerged from my unwanted and unloved Spring this year. The first has been the resurrection of one of my children's books I thought had vanished for ever - no, it didn't go out of print, but the publishers dealing with it did what publishers so often do - jumped into bed with each other, divorced, re-wed, then emerged as a different company in a different place. Not one of my favourite cover images, but hey! it will be out next month, so it will be a bit like having a new book out there. 

The second has been the unlikely acceptance of one of the stories I produced in response to a really challenging (well, for me) brief. It's set in the Rainforest, has three near-murders, and will be aimed at Years 1-2. As an American might say, go figure. 

On the Indie side, I'm still flirting with CreateSpace. A friend of my daughter's won a writing competition with an extraordinary debut Young Adult novel. The prize was publication plus an ISBN by the CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, and she received a large quantity of books to distribute, plus a professional cover image. Exciting, except that her local bookshops refused to stock them, and I'm concerned that the narrow commercial requirements of so many traditional publishers might restrict her chances publishing-wise. She's not a celebrity, and recent publishers' reject cliches seem to have evolved from 'not quite right for our list' into the enigmatic, and infuriating: 'too quiet'.

God/Terry Pratchett/little FW story/research/Spring


Lynne Garner said…
Interesting blog Enid.

Just love Terry Pratchett's books. I'm fairly sure we have every disc world book (including the ones aimed at kids) and this week I noticed him-in-doors re-reading one.

On the book rejection front. Recently had a conversation with other writers and yes the 'too quiet' rejection seems to be the favoured one at the moment. A few of my picture books have been rejected for this very reason. Oh hum. I'll simply store them for a few years, wait for the tide to turn and send them out again.
Susan Price said…
Yeah - on the one hand, you're 'too quiet.' Yeet I'm being asked to rewrite a book full of predatory animals hunting each other, and leave out 'any killing or death.' How do you please 'em?

Enid - surely your friend can publish with CreateSpace? She can do a guest blog for us - though not in the immediate future. She can write herself a killer blurb, tweet, Facebook. She won't make a fortune - but then she wouldn't with a conventional publisher either.
Enid Richemont said…
Susan - she already has a huge stack of CreateSpace editions,paid for, I presume, as part of the prize money, plus an ISBN and a nice, professional cover illustration, but still her local bookshop refused to stock them.

Re- 'too quiet' and predatory animals - check my blog! And we all know what the predators are thinking... 'Munchies'.
I was being told that my work was 'too quiet' years ago. In fact it was the main reason why The Curiosity Cabinet was rejected by so many publishers. I never did know exactly what they meant until a writer friend said that they meant they wanted a 'stonking great story.' If they could have good writing as well, then it would be a bonus, but even if the writing was awful, they would settle for the 'stonking great story' any day! I think she was right. TCC was eventually shortlisted for a book prize, half heartedly trad published, garnered some good reviews and sold out comprehensively. I reclaimed the rights and now it sells steadily as an eBook. Even more now that Outlander is on the radar! The big book chains won't accept books printed by Amazon on principle. She might have better luck with smaller independents. But I reckon if it was me I would stop wasting time with traditional publishers - she should be promoting her book online, contacting libraries to see if she can do readers' days (where she can sell books) and selling the eBook on all platforms - and above all working on the next book and getting that one out there too. If trad pub comes calling and she's tempted at least it will be from a position of strength.
Lydia Bennet said…
Barbara Pym was dropped for being too quiet so the company in that category is excellent! TS Eliot said 'April is the cruellest month, breeding lilacs out of the dead land', something about mixing desire and memory. Spring used to be the hardest time of year for our ancestors - feasting was in autumn and winter as they had the stored harvest, in spring, though they could see the hope for new crops beginning, they were sometimes dangerously short of food and there wasn't much to eat yet.
glitter noir said…
Provocative and enjoyable post, Enid. Ah, yes, I used it hear that one a lot. But even more often: too much, er, rhetoric--generally used to mean any classical sentence constructions. Why, hellfire, some of my favorite writer use tricolon parallelism!
glitter noir said…
Correction: Left out after your name: "Too quiet."
Chris Longmuir said…
CreateSpace is okay to print your books but I would strongly advise against taking the free CreateSpace ISBN, far better to buy the ISBN from Nielsen because a lot of bookshops won't take CreateSpace books on principle because they are an Amazon company, but if you use them for POD and become your own publisher with your own ISBN then there is less resistance. I have mine in my local bookshop, and Waterstones and I get orders from Bertrams and Gardners!

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