Saturday, March 30, 2013

What you've got

The author information page is going out today. The initial edits on the associated novel are mostly done, as well. I'm 99% sure that I'm no longer sick. It's looking like I might just land this thing this year.

Yesterday I got around to having a sit down with one of my beta readers, and we talked about my style, if it could be called that. A different reader coined one of several phrases to describe elements of my stories, and I wanted to hash out if any of those things were noticeable to him. It was a bit like going to the doctor, getting that confirmation. Waking up, feeling weird, sore, or weak, then going to a medical professional who can provide a name for whatever malaise. Oh, scurvy? Really? Hm, that's unfortunate.

Narrative Impatience is what the second reader calls one of the aforementioned elements. I paraphrase his explanation of the term: when proceeding through the story, I am too quick to move to the next scene, to the next moment without giving the reader enough time to stew and marinate on whatever idea of concept. The beta reader, somewhat emphatically, agreed with that, although he was more inclined to call it Density. He told me he had to train himself to read through my work, and then when he came across something that he wanted to mull over, to simply stop reading, contemplate, then proceed reading. He said that was one major reason why my books, word-count wise, are shorter, but can seem to hold just as much story as a longer one. He told me that in the beginning, when he kept reading while thinking at the same time, he tended to miss things.

None of that is really new. People have been arguing indirectly over my writing for years. One group that reads through more quickly, less carefully fires off things like "It makes no sense," and "It's confusing," while the other group retaliates with "They just didn't read it carefully enough," and "All the pieces were there." A review comes to mind, the longest to date of my work, labeling my style esoteric, delivered in a manner that forces the reader to think. I'm also reminded of a compliment given to me almost ten years ago at this point, my mentor thanking me for giving the reader credit, for not assuming they were stupid. That beta reader told me, "Take it how you will, but I have to read your stuff like literature."

In any event, I'm one step closer to finding out what the "problem" is, though I'm not closer to actually solving it, or even determining if the characteristic is even problematic.Several TV shows I watch currently have given me significant hope. Concurrent plot structuring and parallel stories are requiring more sophistication of the viewing audience. They're having to juggle more information, bits of which talk to one another as the show proceeds along. My books are similar. As I organized them a few years ago, I arranged them so they would speak to each other, and for those that invested in the process, would result in a fuller narrative.

So, let's hope it catches, I guess. In the mean time, I have found more free time, but still haven't written the short story. I feel confident that it isn't a matter of if at this point, though, but when. It's just going to take time, I realize now. Just like recovering from an illness. If you're knocked off your feet make sure you plan on running when you get back on your feet, not walking.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Dead pen

I really might have to update the tag for this thing. Weekly? Well, I wonder how accurate it could be if I have the thoughts, but don't write them down here. Once, I wrote about the concept of the consensus of thinking people determining objective reality. At least, it was one of the concepts I was toying around with in this story. I guess primarily it was about time travel.

But I digress. Recently, I was hired on to a project as an editor, and that function turned into more of a ghost writing capacity. It's a strange position, with no contract or officially capacity. I'm compensated, but really, it's more of a gig than a job. Either way, I'm learning a lot about other writers, and other writing. For the first time, I'm able to use some of my own experiences in anecdotes. Not to say that they're overly helpful, but at least I'm using them. Like novelty cutlery.

I submitted the contract for the fourth book, and got soft confirmation that the release is to be in August. I have some work to do on the author information page, and the primary edits before submitting things, but I've already spoken with the editor from the last book. She says she's excited, and I'm certainly looking forward to getting some consistency going. I have no idea how I'm going to work on this other project, and my own stuff at the same time. I sent the contract knowing this consciously, and not even with any feeling that it would all work out. I just pulled the lever and hoped it didn't make the floor drop out from under me.

This marks the first year in several that I've gotten the flu, or seriously sick at all. I had ample time to lay, quiet and alone, and contemplate how much time I was wasting. It was a lot like misery. Feeling well again, I've capitalized hardly any at all on my new lease on life. No new chapters, and while the notes on the short story compound, the work itself hasn't been done. Objectively, I'm reclining on laurel-shaped cushions. I feel like I'm mowing through the credit I earned by writing and writing and writing for the last few years, and that a few years from now I will lament all of my current inactivity. Time cannot help but tell, I guess.

So the query then, is something actually better than nothing? Maybe. Certainly, everything is better than something, and the divide between something and everything is different than the one between something and nothing. Something feels like a participation trophy. That's not really the hardware I'm in the market for.

So here's to moving again. Living. Breathing. Thinking. Laughing.