Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Lending aims

The vacation officially started this week, but it feels like I haven't done anything in days. Or maybe it's that I haven't done anything I had planned on doing. In my mind, once the drafts of the novels were done, I'd have a pocket of time to take it easy, work on the short story, the play, get some submissions out to agents, and start moving towards the fall/winter project. And I did draft the short story; I even got around to pestering my friends about reading it, but aside from that I've been up to a whole bunch of nothing.

However that doesn't mean that things haven't been happening. The Decatur Book Festival got back to me and told me where the event would be (that I'll be participating in) and about how much time I'd have. It was interesting to hear specifics about what things to talk about, what audiences don't want to hear, and how much time to leave open for questions. I was pretty nervous at first, but the event being over a month away has helped. I rarely take the opportunity to talk about my work, but I do have to accept that at least in situations like this one, that's sort of the point.

I also had occasion to work on my elevator pitch. I attended a gathering for steam punk enthusiasts and met some interesting people, one of whom was another fellow artist. I was introduced as an author myself, and the first question was "So what's your book about?" and I did what I usually do, which is take into account the person asking the question, my mood at the time, sprinkle in a little personal embarrassment, pause for effect and then say something that sounds a lot like "Uh... well... hm." The other author smiled graciously, and knowingly at the woman who introduced us, and told me I'd have to work on that: the brief group of words that takes only a few seconds to say, but gets the ball rolling in any conversation with a potential investor (either in me, or my book, or whatever).

And at the risk of closing myself off from the possibility of ever securing a career, I'm going with "anti-twilight" for the time being. It has a lot of the same tropes, the story I have published, but removes the teeny, sappy romance and replaces it with a certain grave dignity things like monsters and murder lack in the current genre's era. And I want to hope that I'll come up with something better to say, but it seems like the elevator pitch concept is based on the ability to present one's work in a way that makes it recognizable, or at least comparable. There's a certain canon that exists among readers, agents, and publishers and it seems important for something new to be packaged as something old. That makes it manageable. That makes it safe. Of course, they also reserve the right to call whatever it is boring and derivative, too.

So I guess it's all about hitting the mark just right, now too far outside the lines, but far enough that it can be appreciated as fresh by someone standing within the boundary. Well, I guess I've gotten a good amount of thinking done so far. Work starts up again in two weeks from yesterday, and I'm already behind at making the most of this gift of free time. Guess I'll lace up my shoes and take a nap.

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