Yesterday, I heard back from the publisher. They liked my writing style, but had some problems with the structure of the novel – most of which, it was oddly gratifying to realise, I already agreed with. They did say, however, that they’d be interested in seeing the manuscript again once/if I made some changes, which I’m genuinely inclined to do.
My guess is, it’ll take me one or two months to fix everything up. Originally, I started writing the novel because I’d been watching a lot of Buffy and was bored at work, and later on, I had some crazy idea about crafting a story which took place almost entirely in dead time. The end product was a mixture of those two drives, to such a degree that the actual plot eventuated as a kind of retrospective: I know where I’m headed now, of course, having long since sat down and thought about it, but the opening in particular is slow. I take a long time to get to the point, and almost everything of relevance happens in the last forty pages. The new version will start earlier on, faster, but with a longer lead-up to meeting the other characters. A few criticisms I disagreed with, too, but those aspects were, I believe, poorly exacerbated by the more structural failings rather than being bad narrative choices in their own right.
All in all, it was extremely productive to have my own negative suspicions confirmed – much more so, really, than to hear that my writing was good. It means my instinct for weakness was correct. Prevously, I’ve held off making such major structrual alterations on the grounds that I was just being fussy, no matter my qualms about this aspect or that, especially given that my first, never-to-be-published novel went through so many iterations. This time, however, I feel invigorated by the prospect, and once my essay is out of the way, I’ll set to with a will.