Because . . . have you noticed? . . . I’m all about the excuses right now. I know, it’s been subtle. But you’re observant. I can tell. You’ve already noticed than anybody who started a book back in 2001 and still hasn’t got it published is seriously stalling.
But look! I have reasons! Here’s a big one–with a little tangent:
The other day the Bitchy Bride, who is fast becoming my Blogging BFF (or maybe BBFF), recommended the website Authonomy. Clearly I don’t already have enough social networking sites from which to derive creepy potential spam. (Incidentally, I would be Very Surprised Indeed if this site is where Mr. Edwards found me, as I have posted pretty much nothing on there yet–and again, the email he used is not the email associated with my profile there. But I guess it would clue anybody in that I–at least sometimes–style myself a writer.)
The basic idea of the site seems to be a forum in which to get your writing out to test-community of readers and other literary hopefuls. Evidently Harper-Collins is the umbrella organisation, so presumably everyone is more or less secretly hoping their work will be noticed by some agent or editor somewhere . . . and the Bitchy Bride’s was, so evidently it works for some people. You put up a profile, and you garner a community by reading and talking about other people’s works, and you try to broaden your readership by putting your own work there.
Easy enough. I like it. Favored One is already divided up into chapter files, which is how one is meant to post one’s books on Authonomy. But I can’t post mine. Because I quote the Bible.
So look. It’s a novel, like I said, but like I also said, it was kind of a big long spiritual exercise in which I was reading the actual Bible and interacting with the actual Bible, and though I made up probably the majority of the dialogue in Favored One myself (Miryam doesn’t have a whole lot of recorded sayings, it turns out), where there is Biblical dialogue in the stories I’m retelling, I wanted to draw straight from the Bible. The aforementioned “psychological experiment” is, as I said, imagining the psychological states and the behaviours of a specific woman in response to the Biblical accounts that we have. I personally believe the accounts to be historical, but I don’t think you have to believe them to find such an experiment interesting if you’re interested in stories about, as I’ve also said before, women’s issues or the paranormal or . . . just human psychology. All that to say–where there’s dialogue already written, I left it in.
The “problem” is, every translation of the Bible has its own copyright. Which part of me understands because you can’t translate anything word for word and have it mean what it means, so . . . there are lots of different translations, which implies a human element. But part of me sometimes just thinks,Really? Couldn’t we just say ‘Copyright: God. Ghostwritten by a whole lot of mostly-if-not-exclusively-dudes. Oh, go ahead, guys. It’s for all of you’?Or something like that?
The particular translation/paraphrase (and it is deliberately a combination in this case) I used was, as I think I mentioned, The Complete Jewish Bible. I picked this for the transliterated Hebrew names, and because I’m not Jewish, but the translator/paraphraser is, and I figured I needed all the help I could get to make the voice of the novel more or less culturally appropriate. (I’m not sure I succeeded, but I figure it can’t have hurt.) Plus (and especially), I just like this one. It worked for my spiritual exercise. It seemed to work for writing a novel, too.
But now that I really do want to publish the thing, I am having a bear of a time acquiring permissions. This, I think, is what an agent and/or traditional publisher is for. And I don’t have one of those. It’s not that I’m being denied permissions outright. It’s that I’m not receiving any answers. And so for now, I find myself stuck. I could switch translations and see if I can find a Bible publisher who’s a little more responsive. Or I could rewrite the entire dialogue in my own words. The tricky thing about that would be to avoid accidentally plagiarising a translation.
Or I could wait until I’ve taken two more New Testament Greek courses, after I restart my Master’s Degree for the third time this autumn, and then painstakingly translate all the dialogue myself. I kind of like that idea, actually, and, given how long it’s taken this manuscript to see the light of day, what’s another five to seven years? But that’s the thing. It’s already taken far longer than it should have. I’ve been talking about this thing for years. Now I have a forum in which to post it and maybe get some feedback, and as things stand, if I did, I could be sued.
What do you think?
- a. wait for CJB permissions
- b. use an alternate translation and try to get new permissions
- c. compose my own dialogue, with my own paraphrase of English translations of the Biblical quotes
- d. learn more Greek and translate the quotes myself