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. 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

A rest-room wall

I had two weeks off from work at the end of Spring semester, and I had it in mind to up the pace on the new project. It started off slowly, but eventually I made good on my goal, and churned out six chapters over the two-week period. It could've been more had I really applied myself, but it turns out chapter 10 was a good place to stop and reassess.

This is going much differently than the last fantasy novel, the last novel even. The unreliable narrator has been really interesting to work with. It was unwieldy at first, but then I recognized the possibilities of a story teller that has personality. The only thing about the technique so far that I do not like is how confining it is. Normally, I work with third person, and I like it because it helps to tell a more comprehensive story. Lots of angles from lots of characters, and it afforded me the opportunity to choose the best perches to tell the story from. With this first person idea, I only get the one angle, so the success or failure of the story, in terms of interest, has to come from that source, so I have to make sure that source is thoroughly good.

I'm also looking into map making at this very late stage. Normally, it's taboo for me to start talking about places and directions and landmarks without having a fuller understanding of where those sorts of things are. That's why chapter 10 was a good place to stop. There was a critical mass of places and directions and movement that to go much farther, it would be a detriment to the story. This, too, has been different because usually, I have a map, and I introduce characters to placing knowing how they relate to other locales. This time, I've had people moving about already, so now I can design a map that has a skeleton of needs that the story is providing. I can already tell you that I like the previous way best, but something I did learn from this method is that maps can have rough drafts, too, and that once I anchor the things I've canonized, I can rearrange the other details to my liking. Not sure how far that rabbit hole goes. 

In other news, the networking is going poorly. Logistics can be hard, before all the smiling and hand shaking there is also the arrangements and scheduling. I've succeeded in saying yes several times, but have failed on following through, circling back around, asking again. It is so much easier to do nothing. I have a friend that is touring conventions now, with a goal to meet people and make contacts. I think about myself; I try to place myself in that situation and my body freezes at the prospect of touring booths and asking those leading questions. I watch a lot of interviews because I find people's histories and anecdotes very entertaining. In almost every case, successful types have horrible beginnings that help propel them into leaps of faith. I can admit to being awful afraid of jumping. But it does help to admit to such fears in a place where they might be read. As if having a fear no one is aware of and having a fear others might exploit changes the fear itself. 

Regardless, break time is over, and I am back at work.