Views from Sandhausen: Experiences from a Foreign Service Assignment is back from my developmental editor, Edit me FAST. I must say, for what I thought was a pretty ‘clean’ manuscript, there is a lot of red here. No matter, I’ve been writing for others for more than 42 years and I have been lead to believe that I write well; hence the books. After Matt did all of his excellent work, and after I paid him for that hard work (which was less than I budgeted), he really had nothing to be gained by telling me what I might want to hear.
So, I took my pen and mouse in hand and asked “Do you think that I have what it takes to be a successful writer?” Here is his reply…..
“In my opinion, I certainly think you have what it takes to be a writer. You have a unique writing style, which is one of the most difficult things to do as a writer. Obviously I’ve never read any of your fiction, so I can’t give a comprehensive opinion, but you have great control of the English language; you make words work for you through structure, which often results in humor (another very difficult thing to achieve); each word serves a purpose, so your writing is direct; and you certainly know how to tell a story. Plus, you just wrote Views from Sandhausen, right?!?!
In my opinion, writing boils down to just a few things:
A passion for knowledge, communication, and expression, developing and utilizing your own writing style, and never resisting growth/development/change.
- Loving the process. I think it’s safe to say this applies to you.
- Persistence. Someone who writes 101 substantive Views is definitely persistent. For fiction, I find inspiration in the works of David Foster Wallace. The sheer complexity, and yet simplicity, of his story structures in Infinite Jest is a work of genius. If you have a couple of months and you don’t mind reading the zaniest thing you’ve likely ever picked up in your life (and have a passion for dark humor), I highly recommend it. That said, it definitely does not suit every reader’s tastes (and very few people care to invest the requisite time and mental energy), and I don’t want to be responsible for you wasting your money, so make sure you know what you’re getting into. I recommend this because of the structure, as his also leads to humor, albeit after more setup and development given it’s a much longer book (1104 pages), and a work of fiction. The part at the end of the book about Juliane and Philosophenweg seemed like it was approaching the use of some literary techniques more common in fiction; you could develop a character like her in a fiction novel. Or at least that kind of storytelling.
Now in terms of marketability, I obviously can’t make any guarantees, but I think you have something of real substance in Views from Sandhausen. I still can’t get over how great the marketing piece is. One concern about the front and back covers, though, is the color. Granted, I’m no expert, but I’m a big fan of chocolate-brown and crème, and I’m wondering if they would pull the brown in the picture of the shopping district. The yellow is a little hard to discern on the green background. Again, I’m biased in favor of brown (as you can see with my website), but I’m wondering if the yellow really would show up better on the brown.
You’ve certainly hit on a great subject, and it seems unique to me in the sense of how honest it really is. It’s interesting to see all the drawbacks, as opposed to only the bright spots that the vast majority of people hear about. In a time when some think America is expected to bring itself down to the level of the rest of the world, people will find it refreshing to read about how America really isn’t that bad of a place (and give them pause for European mimicry). Politics aside, who wouldn’t want to come along on the trip you described in the marketing piece??? By the way, the ending of the book is amazing!