Friday, December 23, 2016

Stopped, starting

I wish I could say that rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated. But there aren't any rumors. I stopped putting words into this white space, and no one noticed. Life moves on. Yet I felt a failure by not coming back around and writing something. I've learned so much in the past few months, but putting it all down here feels exhausting. 

I will say this though, I finished the novel before year's end like I planned. I didn't finish it before summer, or fall, but in this latest task I did not fall short. I met my quota of 90,000 words, even went a little over. Come 2017, I will have two unattached works to shop to agents and publishers, and it feels good to be able to say that. Interestingly enough, a random opportunity cropped up to put the already finished work in front of a person that reads for such goals. That was nice, to have been introduced to that person, and it was nice to check the file before I sent it, and discover that the novel to be sent is also close to 90k. I'm not on my way. I am still tinkering in the dark, but if ever anyone shines a light, they will see a rack of wrought works. 

The reason I am here is because I was writing down the second story idea I'd had in as many days. It was an interesting gestation, to put one novel away, to not be thinking about it in almost all instances of writing, then to feel other things come rushing in like ocean waves. The first I jotted down onto a notepad I've taken to using, a broad, star-ward science fiction story covered in multiple shorts. Like Silver Age, which I learned is pulp, and which I am working on making a serial from (I even have some people who have volunteered to voice act), but even less of a straight line. 

In the same way that idea is an evolution of something I tried years ago, so is this new, fantasy epic. I had some strenuous success re-writing one of my older novels, and in a similar vein, I will be re-imagining an older story that had decent bones. It won't have the same name, or many of the same characters, but some of the concepts ought to be recognizable to people who were with me in the beginning. It is exciting for me. A gift, even. I am very happy to be back at it. I love most facets of it, but this part is undeniably the most optimistic. Like watching a child grow.

Monday, August 15, 2016

The yolk of suppose

I've been on a bit of a break. Hiatus might be the better word. I imagined that fifty years ago, or a hundred fifty years ago, writing was different. Largely, writing was writing. Even if a poet wrote alone, just for herself, relatives who found her work later could rather easily publish those writings, and make livings off of posthumous efforts. Now, I have to acknowledge that in regards to being a writer, it doesn't quite do anymore to simply write. To say that I've been writing seems to count far less than successfully convincing others that I am a writer. It's an awful, tangled, convoluted mess.

I was inspired by an acquaintance who made some progress with her own struggles. Through her I learned a lot about comic books and the process for making them. We had largely talked about fiction but I discovered one of her many passions was graphic novels. She went around to conventions in the region, shook hands, did research, smiled, proved herself driven, did the work, and was accepted into an anthology. I was very happy for her, and very happy to know that there is a road. There are steps to take. Of course, what I am missing the most of is the conventions, the shaking hands. The smiling. I suppose if the universe speaks, it is on us to listen.

On that note, I am convinced that my query letter fell on deaf ears. There is something about the hollow rejection of a lack of reply that is particularly galling to me. Rejection is a part of life, after all. But there is a level of human affectation in the word no, or the eye contact that precedes a sad head shaking. I've been rejected in person without the word, and without the eye contact, and it is a stab to the center of a person when they go that far beneath notice. Sending submissions out into the aether and receiving no reply is the same. I can only assume that unanswered prayers feel very similarly. I did encounter something like advice on how to craft a query letter, so that is the next step. I'm supposing that is the next step.

In the mean time, I am still writing. Some ideas are less good. My own comic book idea, when I put some weight on it, crumbled through my fingers, and I didn't really lament at all. Another idea I had was smothered under the swirling doubt of "oh, that sounds just like..." The novel is up to chapter 19. The break started off strong, but some difficulties slowed my progress. Actually, they slow me still, and this is my attempt to generate locomotion. Decorating empty space with words, seeing how they stick, tearing them down and hanging up others.

Friday, July 8, 2016

That letter i

Some weeks ago I made a decision about the agent search, which was to swing for the fences. Recently, I was given cause to question that kind of mentality, but the thought hasn't yet fully formed. In the meantime, what came across my mind was to go after the agents of authors whom I admire. Beyond writing in similar genres, with similar (read: derivative) style, I felt like those agents would best understand the talent they represent, and be able to realize something comparable. 

This week I finally acted on that. Idle searching of the internet in a sweltering, morning parking lot revealed a name, and a search of the name revealed the title of an agency. A few clicks from there, and I was faced with their submission guidelines:

"Send us an unadorned, unaccompanied letter as your first step, whether paper or e-mail. If we're interested, we'll e-mail you an invitation to submit additional materials and instructions on how to do so."

I've gotten a lot of practice over the years writing letters, and getting rejected. I have a clearer and clearer idea of what I might say, and how I might say it in whatever context. In reading those lines was surprised. I wrote some novels after all, as a kind of practice, then I wrote another novel, then I re-wrote that novel. After all that I thought I might be able to use it as some sort of climbing tool, or shielding device, or identification card, something. Here, it's useless, unless I can write a letter that will stand out among all the other letters, enough to warrant a reply, and a positive one at that. It creates a startlingly dry chill, even in the bright blaze of summer. 

In other, less complex news, the writing continues. I stopped after chapter 10 to go over what I had done, and what I had planned to do, and how all of that had rolled out. Then I struck forward again, and I'm up to chapter 13. My notes and outline remain disjointed, in different physical locations and in various stages of disrepair. This time I have not used an electronic outline, and that has been very challenging. On the other hand, it has forced me to keep in mind what my narrative goals are, and that has kept the story in mind at almost all times. Barring head trauma, it might even work out better this way. 

So, the year is half done, and in regards to making this an occasion of networking, I can recall some successes and failures both. As always seems the case, there are some things that could work out, if the stars align correctly. It keeps happening, and I keep hoping, despite a steady diet of evidence that I should maybe be doing something else. I guess that means that so far, for whatever pratfalls, I remain mostly in tact. Or maybe that I was a little broken from the start.