Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Judgment days

When your mom asks why you haven't written on your blog, that's a good time to recognize that you've been slacking off.

A friend asked me if I'd ever composed a list of the things I wanted, with as much specificity as possible. The kind of agent I want, the kind of publisher, the kind of contracts. The color, flavor, tone, and dimensions of the success I desire from this life. I had to admit that I never had. I've imagined intimations with interviewers, red carpet photos, conversations with other success stories, and other memories I'd want, but when it came to the kinds of things that would yield all of that, I'd always phrase things like "I just want someone to give me a chance" and "All I need is an advocate that has some backing of their own." For the entire remainder of the day after my friend had asked me that question I ruminated on the possibility that all the universe needs from us is specificity and such things come to us in time. It's not science fiction. Let's call it... faith fiction.

A Chinese oil painting in a restaurant reminded me of my latest problem, which prevented me from writing this past weekend. The style of art is designed to convey a thing, a horse, a cat, a bird, etc. with the fewest brush strokes possible. It's minimalism at its finest, and it's likely that I'm drawn to it because I'm somewhat of a minimalist myself. Sometimes when I write a scene, a floor plan is required, just to make sure I know, as the author, where everything is in the room. If the character is seeking escape, then all doors and windows, and the condition of those portals, must be accounted for. If the character is seeking ingress, then the same is true, but in the opposite fashion. In this case, something more like a drawing might be required. In an upcoming scene, an item comes into play. The problem is I have no real idea of what it looks like, and for the kind off writer that I am, I have trouble writing about things that I can't fix in my mind. What's worse, every day it seems to become more formless, the next passage to write out of reach.

On the (more) professional side of things, I've finally gotten around to composing a list of agents to query. It isn't a short list that I'm developing, but perhaps that's a good thing. A writer friend told me of a story she read about another author who queried 41 agents, who all said no before the 42nd gave the nod. Now, that same author has a very successful career that includes best sellers and movie deals. The last time I tried this I think I queried less than 15. The disparity is obvious, but I'm more reminded of the inexact nature of language. After all, "'this is going to be difficult" might be a statement of fact, but it does nothing for accurately measuring the difficulty of a task. I realized yesterday that I will always write, whether I receive accolades or not, but writing and trying to be a (professional) writer are two different experiences. After all, the person who simply writes understands freedom purely, and will never be fettered in a manner that the latter person will, constantly racing uphill, through tempests of uncertainty and storms of rejection. The professional lives to be judged, but not by choice.

About all I have today are movie platitudes, about how the future isn't set, about how there is no fate but what we make for ourselves.


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