But that's not the end of the story (so to speak). My project came out of the oven looking so good that I think I'll try to get 'er published. I'm 20 pages into the first revision, and the prospects are getting rosier all the time.
I'm doing two things with this first rewrite. Well, three. First, I'm converting all of the romanized Korean words to the outdated McCune-Reischauer system. If that sentence made no sense to you, hear me out. At first I was just winging it. The M-R system didn't exist back in the 1860s, and I figured my narrator and protagonist would just make up whatever transliteration looked good. But then I thought I'd better standardize. I don't want to cause my readers undue confusion, or give the critics another reason to howl and dribble. Using this obsolete system does two things. Due to the accent marks and apostrophes and umlauts and stuff, the words look antiquated and alien, which is a rather nice effect for a book about one of the first Western expeditions to the interior of the Korean peninsula. Really heightens the mood, y'know? Moreover, the McCune-Reischauer system was originally created to help foreigners pronounce Korean words. If the book's going to have mass appeal, I can't have my readers chucking it across the room because they can't sound out all the Hangul.
Second, I'm trying to homogenize the tone of the novel. It was written in first-person perspective—the perspective of a 30-year-old Protestant missionary from the Dakota Territory. I'm trying to make sure this book sounds like it was written by a well-educated American man in the 1860s. I've always admired the erudite diction and complex sentence structure I observed in Jules Verne's stories, and I'm trying to emulate it. But I'm not accustomed to it, and regulating it is a constant battle.
Third (and this one's the kicker): I'm revising it for historical accuracy.
Since Miss H was home for two weeks back there in mid-November, she graciously agreed to pick up a book for me. It's called Intrepid Americans, Bold Koreans: Early Korean Trade, Concessions, and Entrepreneurship by Donald Southerton. This slim volume contains a detailed account of the 1866 General Sherman incident (detailed in my previous NaNoWriMo posts), upon which this novel was based. My work is historical fiction, of course, but I'd like for my account to be as realistic as possible, particularly since this is my first stab at mainstream commercial fiction. A fine kettle of fish it'd be if my debut novel got skewered for glaring historical inaccuracies. Even though this is supposedly the crappy novel I promised I'd write, it came out far better than I expected, and have high hopes for it.
Anyway, I've only just begun Chapter 3 of Intrepid Americans, Bold Koreans—the one detailing the General Sherman incident—and already I've made several important corrections to my manuscript as a result. There's been numerous small things, like romanization errors or geographical tweaks. But it looks like there are some big revelations in store, which may lead me to make some major insertions (no dirty jokes, please).
Props to Miss H for picking this up for me. Quite empowering, that woman is. I should tell her that more often.
Anyway, wish me luck in my revision. I aim to get this thing on the fast track to publication the moment I'm satisfied that it's as historically accurate. And once the tone's as homogeneous as it's going to get. When those two conditions are met, it's on its way to the publishers. That's a promise.