Sunday, February 28, 2016

The point points

I'm back to writing again, and the positive feelings and negative ones are mixing well together. I feel good in a vague sort of way, as if letting the words lie on paper lightens my spirit. I feel more energetic and excitable. Activity and smiles come easier. And I feel bad, right this moment between the first and second draft where I doubt the project's purpose, or my ability to execute it. It seems like a great idea to delete it and never mention it again to anyone. It isn't necessarily surprising, but I had forgotten that particular side effect of the first drafting. It's complete, and yet it is in its roughest possible state of completeness. No one can fault a sculptor for the look of a rough block of material, but after they've worked on it for awhile, if it still looks like nothing, doubt isn't far behind the confusion.

But, I'm back to writing again. Since finishing the sci-fi novel rewrite, I've been on a bit of an involuntary hiatus. One of those times when one gets distracted, but it just so happens to coincide with a break so it becomes less suspicious, so later when it's become pervasive, it can be a little disconcerting. Truth be told, while I've had the idea in the works for months, it was the idea of a couple friends getting together to share work monthly that finally roused me from sloth. I was lost in my own head to wonder why I hadn't been asked to partake, then I wondered if I could even have something new to present on a monthly basis. Then I thought that even if I could, getting to 12 still started with 1. Motivation is strange.

I'm also not sure how this happened, but when coming to the drafting of this story, I was able to ask the question of whether or not another person could read it and give me their thoughts. And I was able to ask it, in earnest, several times. I was able to ask it so many times that I thought I had asked the same person more than once. I think back to a time in college when I asked the question, and the other person was still trying to become my friend. It's different now, and I'm not quite sure yet exactly how. I'm thankful to have people to bounce things off of, so maybe this networking thing is working better than I thought.

Speaking of that, I found another author at my publisher who was praised for producing a "non typical" take on the supernatural framework. So now I'm in a review swap situation. I'm looking forward to talking with and getting to know yet another author. However, I am not sure if I signed up for this because I wanted to avoid the work ahead at finding an agent.

But self diagnosis aside. I'm back to writing.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Part II

I've had a couple friends ask me how things went.

"You did an awesome job... you were natural and engaging. From experience you know that's a lot with that age group."

"You did an excellent job. The students really enjoyed your talk."

This is what I'm told, and I guess nothing particularly disastrous happened. I arrived on campus on time, but between locating the front office, signing in, waiting for someone to walk me to the right location, all I had time to do was greet my contact, and walk into a room with a large group of restless teenagers who suddenly decided they would all stare at me.

Going in, I had planned to show them the next books in the series. I took them, thinking it would be a great opportunity for marketing, to talk to them about the first book, and then be able to physically show them that the series continued, what the covers looked like, the words therein, etc. In practice, the books stayed in my bag. I was alone on a makeshift stage that creaked when I first stepped onto it, behind a tiny podium with an impotent tail of an electrical plug dangling down, the other end connecting to a fixture bereft of a microphone. I hadn't anticipated there would be so many people. The school bought 60 books, and I still didn't think it through.

In retrospect, I said some things that I might not have had I some time to think things through, but there was no time. I talked about my book, my process, I answered the questions I had been given, and then I opened the forum for Q&A. I didn't even realize how many questions were being asked until we had to cut things short. I signed some books for about ten minutes. This, following the portion where a table of food was exposed to the teeming press. I was reminded of some of the scenes from the first Jurassic Park, a movie most of the children there hadn't seen, and yet emulated so fiercely. And then I had to go, because it was the middle of the day, at a school, so there were classes. I found myself in the parking lot walking toward my car wondering if all of it had actually happened, or if maybe I had imagined it.

I have a visitor's sticky badge bearing my name, stuck to the envelope housing my compensation for the talk. And that's what it says: author's talk, right next to the bounty of my efforts. I have to update my resume, with that, and other things.

I am so very happy that the bottom didn't fall out from under me.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Part I

I found myself awake at 5:30 this morning, lying next to Nervousness. Tomorrow is the author talk at a local high school. All last week I had wondered if maybe I had grown socially, if my stage fright of years, which led me to speak in front of audiences and then afterward remember little of what I said. No, was the whisper, I'm still here.

I got an email with some questions that would likely be asked, and that was a great comfort for two reasons. One, it means that they will likely ask questions, which indicates at least some level of interest. I won't be sitting in front of a group of people who were forced to stare at me. Secondly, I know what some of the questions at least will be. I am very focused on doing a good job, being insightful, which is to say helpful, for the sake of these young people. I think I have an idea of where they are sitting, and I don't want to be the latest in a long list of unhelpful adults.

Still, even though I am hours removed from that quiet moment in the dark, I find myself hyper sensitive. All of my clothes suddenly seem wrong. My hair, my shoes. But at least the feeling of unpreparedness are far enough removed that I can look at them objectively, analyze them thoughtfully. I do not want to fail, simply put.

So this will be something new, in multiple senses. I will post again after I've passed through to the other side. Hopefully whole.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

A N.Y. thing

Been awhile since I updated this, and as usual I have no excuses. It's also been awhile since I wrote consistently, but that's going to be changing soon, as well.

Two weeks until the artist talk at a local high school. I don't know what to expect, and I think that's okay. I believe the point is to use it as a learning experience, gather what information I can and then draw conclusions after the dust clears. I was also told about a writing workshop in the area, where people pay non-trivial amounts of money to sit in on various sessions with professionals in the industry, and pay moderately less money to even pitch to an agent. I'm considering how much such an experience is worth to me, never having had it previously. Sometimes I guess one has to make decisions in the midst of the sandstorm.

Navigating these things has been confusing and strange. So far as I can tell, there are a variety of doors a person can use for an in. "It isn't what you know, but who you know." This most visible methodology works out for a lot of individuals who find themselves connected to or connecting with the right person. It's a normal emotion, not to trust someone who isn't known, because ultimately it's all about investments, which is to say gambling. Agents, companies, entities wield a certain amount of influence and resources, and their goals are to further their agendas, most usually revolving around making more money. Taking in a book that will sell is a good thing, but who knows the future? The fallback of trust is convenient and safe and typical. Without that, it falls on the author to figure out some other way to impress the editors responsible for accepting material. I've personally also heard of authors working at publishers first, and working their way into that trust. I've also heard of authors spending decades submitting until their work finds the right person behind the right desk.

So in terms of networking and tenacity, respectively, I think I continue to fail. But there are those resolutions. I didn't so much say them as feel them, and I know what I have to do to fulfill them. I may not end up shelling out money I don't necessarily have for the workshop, but the other resources I've come across, I will use. I am always of the mind that if a writer is not writing, they are not working. Maybe that was true 30 years ago. Now, it seems like part of the job is the meeting and greeting. I'm sure there are also other aspects I'm missing, other things that went into the careers of writers I see who are further along than me. And of course everyone's recipe for success is going to be a little different.

So, on the horizon are the children's book concept I've failed at for 2 years, the next short story, which I'm pretty excited about, and this networking thing. I call it a thing because I still don't know what to make of it. However, I can say that I have more people in my life now who continuously ask me how it's going, and that feels really nice. Like a forgetful person is, I am increasingly more amazed at the number of things I allow to fall by the wayside. Picking them up later, "what is this doing on the floor?" Though, I am keenly aware that if I allow myself to fail, I will always remember how I didn't try hard enough.