Monday, February 28, 2011

In time, far away

Searching my closet for things that I could throw away with little regret, I happened upon one of the lost journals from college. I forget when, but sometime through my matriculation, I stopped taking notes in helpful ways. It might have started as far back as high school, but flipping page by page was like looking into my thinking life as it was at that time. One page had brief and confusing class notes scribbled in a rushed hand, then the next was a diary entry of sorts, naming my demons and listing their predilections, which was followed again by half a page of notes from a completely different class than the first. Only the journal entries had dates, and none of the class notes had titles. Occasionally, there would be rough drafts of poems written on the back of flyers for events on campus. I poured over it with a friend, and he repeated a quote I gave him earlier about how bad authors publish such things and good authors burn them. Mine is sitting beneath a dusty box of quiet nothings, almost trash, and almost not.

A power outage is to be scheduled next week in the zip code of my publisher, which I was informed from multiple sources would push back the official release day to the 8th. I think the author of that formerly lost journal would have lost his mind at that, seeing omens in the wind with a third eye. I acknowledge that it could be the first of an endless array of mysterious set backs, but it wouldn't be overly helpful to think that way, however it also wouldn't surprise me. I'm happy that I got this far into the process, and in general I think, I'm happier as a person. Randomly, I found another writer to spread the word about the release, gave her my cover art, which brings the total to five: a quintet of outlets pulsing into the web the news of my coming. Hopefully, some sort of magical confluence will occur. Either way, I'm confident I did a moderately decent job of upholding my end of the contract in that regard.Further, I published another story on fictionaut, so perhaps that counts for something, too.

A friend bought me a book about publicity, which is a word I have yet to hear in this entire process. The book even specifically separates the concepts of promotion and publicity as two different things. I read chapter one, then perused the next few. It asked me questions I was hard pressed to answer, and outlined a grim situation of how many books are published a year, and how many first time authors are pumped into the market (the metaphor was that authors are thrown into an overcrowded pool, and most drown with their brethren standing on their heads). Helpful bits seemed to center around something they call a silver bullet, but has also been described to me as an elevator pitch. Which is to say a focused laser beam comprised of all the books unique and good qualities which can be whipped out and wielded at a moment's notice. I guess after I finally think of one for my work, I'll practice at not cutting my own hands off.

In other news, the pace is holding. Saturday nights these days I get an anxious feeling in my stomach and I worry about having enough time to draft three chapters before I go back to work. That proves to be the final catalyst, added to outlining and brainstorming, to get words down on paper. The concept, I've been told, roughly translated from the notes of a famous general is "fighting with one's back to water." So far, the stress in the midst of the writing has not been so debilitating, and the results are well within acceptable ranges. I'm four weeks in, with two dozen or so to go. It's interesting to me that with every step, I changed and become someone new, that maybe some other me will look back on these writings of mine and revel at being in an even better place. 

Monday, February 21, 2011

Natural philosophy

I missed a whole week, and have little excuse, except for maybe that last Monday came around and things were solid, stable. Then, I lost hold of time like someone had played a prank on me, and the concept as a whole became greased and slippery. And then suddenly, like the joke had ended, it was Monday again. Questions about the nature of reality occurred to me, and only partly because time and space recently played havoc on my mind.

A sci-fi show I'm an on-again off-again fan of impressed me the other night, and then the day following I had cause to hang out with a scientist friend of mine. I asked him about what science was to him, and what he thought about when he saw the mad doctor cutting up patients with finely explained reasoning or not. "Whenever I see morally reprehensible stuff like that," he said, "it offends me as a scientist." He went on the explain that the whole point of science, to him, was to do the impossible. If a doctor felt he had to test humans and excused that by saying he had tried all other avenues, it meant he was a failure, my friend said. And he was emphatic about that. I was impressed again. Of course, unless human lives are at stake to a certain degree, there would be less drama, and so less point, but still.

The conversation occurred to me when I was trying to puzzle out how to write a scene and was fumbling. Halfway through I thought to myself "It just can't be done. There would be no way to present a point of view without a point, only the view," and my friend's voice came back to me, edited so it was appropriately chiding: the point of writing is to imagine the impossible. The thought got me back to outlining; I haven't come up with a solution yet, or even a way to properly describe what it is I'm trying to do (as you can tell), but at least I'm still trying. The writing that I am tinkering out currently is going well, however. I had front loaded so much potential through the second half of last week that when Sunday came around I did all three chapters in one sitting. Well, I drafted them. Following the morning, my brain was akin to tasteless gruel, or perhaps old salsa.

This week I am set to finish all the promotional documents I obligated myself to complete, along with the review of the novel I finally got into.Along with the starting of the other novel I promised a friend I would read, and hopefully work will not be so unkind that actually attempting these many and varied tasks won't cause things to tail spin not unlike the Twilight Zone transitioning graphic.To this day I'm still trying to figure out how I work so little yet have such brief time to accomplish any of my plans. I seem to even be losing time at points.

In any event, the release I've been trying to ignore so the impatience doesn't overwhelm me seems to be a go. I got an email from the marketing director, ensuring that my address and others of the March release authors are the preferred/correct ones. I was slightly worried, given that the last thing I received was sending off the errata. As those interviews and posts are published, I will be updating my website and this blog. The links will rain down, but unlike other authors, hopefully I will not receive accusatory emails labeling me a spammer. It seems a lot like if enough people yell it, then it becomes true enough for history: monster, scientist, hack. But is true enough true? 

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Just maybe I'll fly

I'm to the point now where the first handful of outlined chapters are practically chapters themselves. It is relatable to a term taught to me by a friend steeped in screen writing. I forget the name of the term, of course, but it basically is a summary of what happens in a scene before its actually written out. So I'm feeling good. The introductions went well enough, thus completing the first week of writing; after looking them over, I asked myself the same old questions. Do they catch the reader up fast enough? Do they include the most pertinent details (that the reader wants to know) of the immediate and of the distant (that the reader needs to know to make sense of the story as a whole). Sometimes I wish I was the type to be able to write a whole book, throw it away, and then write a better one.

Along with those things cramming my brain pan, I've also found myself reading two other books. One, I'd say is for a friend and colleague, the other is for a colleague who may one day become a friend. Likewise, I was introduced to the concept of interview swapping. Apparently, authors read each other's books, type out a review then swap, giving the reviewed author permission to put the opinion up wherever. I can't say that the idea had never occurred to me. At least, I'd heard about it, but I suppose my surprise derives from my thinking that I'd never be doing it personally. So hurray for new experiences.

Further, I have met at least one author that has called up a book store, and was given a courteous, if robotic, email concerning the scheduling of a book signing, free of charge printing of posters and promoting of the event. I was wowed to say the least. Everything else thus far has been relatively long and hard fought. Twenty one rejections before one acceptance and all that. It's true that I don't know how many stores were phoned before that one, though. Certainly, I hope that isn't the case with me if I go that route; I'm not sure there are that many bookstores close to me. So at least the promotional brainstorming is proceeding well.

I think I've put my last story up on fictionaut before my release. It feels a little defeatist to say that, but thinking about the writing I plan on doing, and the reading I've obligated myself to do, I somehow doubt I'll have the time to perform anything but a half-hearted attempt at short fiction. I feel drained, though that might have something more to do with the day and not the time. 5:45 looked as ugly as I remembered this morning, staring at me in the hateful guise of my alarm clock. But who knows what I'll feel up to once I get back to a more humane sleep schedule. Maybe in addition to all the stuff I could do, I may also develop super powers and fight crime.