March 27, 2007

Premature Submit-ulation

Stick it in a drawer for two weeks when you're done.
How many times have you heard that advice? (If this is the first time, run-don't-walk to your local bookstore and get yourself a copy of Self-Editing for Fiction Writers or Stephen King's On Writing.) I think there's more than one reason that this is a great piece of advice.
The first reason is to give yourself some distance from the work. After living in a piece for days/weeks/months, it's just hard to see the commas for the uncrossed T's. Some time away (or even better, some time on another project) helps you reacquire that objective eye.
The other reason is to give yourself a chance to calm down. Whether this reason applies to you or not depends on the type of writer you are when it comes to submitting your work.
There seems to be two camps when it comes to submitting: those that have to force themselves to send their work out into the world (sometimes at great personal pain) and those that have to restrain themselves from sending work out the second they've typed the final D in The End.
Unlike other categorizing of writers (and of that, there's no short supply), I don't think you're destined to be in any one of these camps permanently. As you get more and more comfortable with submitting, any angst you feel about it will most likely fade. Eventually, the second you're "done" a piece, you'll want to fire it out into the world. This is a bad, bad thing to do. Writers who are in this camp mix up the exhilaration of the creation with the satisfaction of being done. This usually happens when a draft has just been completed. But complete doesn't necessarily mean done.
I absatively (apologies Mr. Gaiman) guaran-damn-ty that what you think is done today will change tomorrow. I know, because that's the camp I live in. Hell, I've got a couple streets and a wash basin named after me there. The point is, no matter how ready you think something is, a few weeks distance won't hurt anything. In fact, it will help.

March 15, 2007

Zombie Shuffling Forth

One more step towards fruition for the Zombie anthology. Just received payment for my story from Australia. The editor also sent me a color version of the artwork being used for the cover (seen here). It's absolutely BEAUTIFUL! I am so jazzed about this book!
BTW, this is the original painting the cover will be based on by Connie Valentina. It's 1 1/2 feet square and valued at AUD$1500. If you'd be interested in buying it, send me an email and I'll put you in touch with the editor. (We'd both love to have it ourselves, but we foolishly do this for the love, not the money. And our bank accounts can attest to that! )

March 11, 2007

The Hardest Part

Depending on which writer you ask (and when), there seems to be no end to the different types of answers you get to the question "What's the hardest part of the writing process?".

For some, coming up with ideas is like pulling proverbial teeth. For others, ideas are a dime a dozen and the execution of the ideas is actually the hardest part. Some writers find crafting an exciting and original opening chapter to be the hardest part (and this can be extended to cover opening scenes, paragraphs, sentences or even the first word, as well). Once they're rolling, it's all down hill (probably not the best of metaphors, there).

Some have trouble fleshing out their characters, or choosing a setting and won't even start until they have everything in place. Still others feel they need to know the entire structure of the book and have a detailed outline in place before the prose can start to flow.

Quite a few writers feel it's the swampy middle of their books that are the hardest to write and get past. I know I've personally left quite a few still-births at that point and I feel for my brother and sister writers who lose their way in the everglades of lost threads and overzealous plot devices. That middle can be a dangerous place.

In truth, there seems to be no end to the number of things writers find "the hardest part". I haven't even mentioned endings, rewrites, theme development or killing your darlings; all brutally difficult and painful stages in the writing process. And let's not forget that for some it's not even the writing part of the process that they find difficult. There are those who can get manuscripts in shape with little effort, but wake up with cold sweats when they think about submitting or even contemplate the idea of letting someone else read their work.

For me, though, the hands down, king of the hill, cock of the walk, queen of the prom killer is -- choice. Now, I'm not talking about those million choices every writer has to make between "It was a dark and stormy night..." and "...Bobby realized it was all a dream". Though those are tough, they don't particularly scare me. What scares the little malteasers out m'butt every time is choosing what to write. Or maybe a better way of putting it is choosing what not to write this time.

The biggest problem here is that I want to write everything: horror, mystery, sci-fi, fantasy, hardboiled, time-travel, thriller, romance, etc, etc. I love and want to write them all. For short work, it's not such a trial making a choice, because you know you'll be done soon and you can try something else. But longterm committment to a project, like a novel, is another matter. The conundrum is that I think I have a predilection for longer works.

So more often than not, I end up making no choice, or diddling around with shorter projects. It would help if I didn't have ideas for a wide variety of projects, but I'm one of those writers who feels ideas are a dime a dozen. And I've got about six bucks worth of stuff rattling around my noggin.

I've never really been a planner or outliner, but that's exactly what I'm currently doing in an attempt to focus and actually produce something. We'll see how it goes. I don't want to scheme the creativity out of my work, but I'm hoping a plan -- or path -- laid out for me to follow will keep the shiny objects on the side of the road from distracting me into being the king of partials and owner of the hard disk with the most pointless vignettes in the English speaking world.

We'll see how it goes.

Unless I start work on that eight-volume opera I've been thinking about...

March 8, 2007

Zombie Sale

More good news, this time about my writing. :)

Just got word from Australia that my zombie story Spark has been bought for Altair's yet-to-be-named Zombie Antho, due out in October 2007. Guess I'll have something to talk about at the World Horror Convention at the end of the month, after all!

At just under 7,000 words, Spark is the longest story I've sold to date (previous champion was my story The Find, which appeared in Transversions). As of October, my fiction will have appeared on three continents and in four countries.

While the name is still being worked out, the editor (Robert N. Stephenson) sent me a rough sketch of what the cover will look like (shown here). The drawing is called Zombie Girl and is by Conny Valentina. It's based on Zombie Love by Mike Brown, one of the stories to be featured in the collection. Mike is a new writer from Adelaide, South Australia.

Robert can't make it to World Horror this year, so I guess I'll have to drink Fosters all night in his honor.

Cheers, Mate!