May 24, 2009

Step away from the computer

Writing is a solitary endeavour, but even Batman leaves the Batcave now and then. With the discipline required to get your butt in the chair (BIC) every damn day, and the full attention (to say the least) that most projects require, especially near the end, it's easy to forget the rest of the world. Sometimes it even feels like you're supposed to forget it. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

The world, with all its interruptions and annoyances, is what fills the writer up and enables them to write full-bodied, believable fiction. How can you write about the relationships of your characters, if you don't have any? How can you deal with the conflict between what your protagonist wants and everything else pulling at them if your life is a one note song?

Of course, we all fall into the trap now and then. The trick is to recognize it before it requires medication. Make dates with your spouse/lover. Plan weekend outings with your family. Try new things you've never done before. Your writer bone will be nervous as hell, but you'll actually be strengthening it.

I also find that when I've hit a wall and can't find a solution, getting away from the problem and doing something ordinary and mundane tends to magically solve it. Mow the lawn, paint a room, wash the car...whatever. It may not feel like it, but your writer bone -- which is in the back of your brain between the desire to put melted cheese on fries and daydreams about Missy Peregrym -- will still be chugging away on the problem and thankful that you got your interfering conscious fingers out of the way.

And when those days/weeks do come up where you need to roll the stone over your cave's entrance to hit a deadline, your family is going to be a lot more understanding. And your fiction will be that much more relevant, layered and accessible.

May 21, 2009

Request number three

Just got another request for the full manuscript. This was a pretty neat one, too, since it was based on the query, the first chapter and the synopsis, not just a letter. Luckily no one was home besides me so my screaming was unobtrusive. ;)

I know it was silly, but I was getting worried there. Just like I'll be worried again three days from now.

And just to make sure I don't get a big head from even manuscript requests, when I told my wife about it she said "This is a different agent than the last one who asked for it, right?"

Gotta love it.

May 18, 2009

Ode to the Right Brain

By the light of dawn,

I twist the words.

No longer letters,

but merely obscureds.

The opus was done,

such a long time ago.

Or was it just yesterday?

I no longer know.

Like breadcrumbs for pidgeons,

I toss the letters out.

Then try to stay strong,

and elude the blackhole of doubt.

Though in the end,

there's nothing to do;

but wait for the clock

to stop its backward skew.

I so miss the days,

when my characters were me,

instead of just hooks,

in a blood-stained query.

May 13, 2009

Rough Day

After a day of no email activity at all, I got 4 form rejections today. Well, three to start out, then one in minutes on the queries I sent out to replace the rejections (I try to keep a constant number out there.) Some days just go like that.

It occurs to me that the initial query submission stage is like tossing slightly damp paper towels against a window. Sometimes you have to keep tossing new projectiles to replace the ones that didn't stick at all. Sometimes they look like they're sticking, but then they'll fall off and take a couple others with it on the way down. So far, if you can get them to stay for a week, they seem to be sufficiently dried and glued to the window. Until the agent monster comes along and busts the whole damn window, of course. ;)

May 12, 2009

Novelist Nightmare

Stole this off Alicia Walker's blog. Just SOOO good!

First Full Request

After spending the weekend working up about five different versions of queries, finally settling on one and feeling confident "this was the one", I woke up this morning to my first request for the entire manuscript. Based on the first query I sent out. Hubba-wah?

Huge house in New York, too. Pretty cool.

May 10, 2009

Query Hell

After those first couple of bright spots, things were not going so well for my little query. I was attributing it to agents who said they wanted "thrillers" when they meant "crime thrillers", which my book is not. Using three different variations on my query, I've had about 7 very fast rejections (some within minutes!), mostly forms. I do still have about 10 queries out there, but somehow I got it into my head that my query was bad (yes, it's wanted in 3 genres and doesn't give a damn). So I posted it on a writing forum for feedback....and changed it....and posted it....and changed it....(you get the idea). Oy.

So I took the advice, visited about 800 million blogs and websites, read sample queries and finally got my query in a shape that addressed all the advice. It was technically perfect. And about as lifeless as Al Bundy in the sack. I've succeeded in making my query un-unique, uninteresting and uncategorically rejectable. Essentially, I took all the "me" out of it.

Then I found a bunch of "real" sample queries on the 'net that were successful in getting representation, if not a book contract. And you know what? Not a ONE of them stuck to the "rules". Hell, most of them started with rhetorical questions! (And these queries were mostly posted on Agent blogs BY Agents as an example.) Pardon my french, but WTF!

Then I read a post by a guy on Miss Snark's blog. It basically said he went through the exact same thing. Then one night when he was loaded up on Bacardi and coke, he tapped out a new query and synopsis in a I-don't-give-a-youknowwhat style. In two weeks he had an agent and shortly after that he had a two-book contract. He went on to say he felt the reason was not that he was loaded, but that he was loaded enough to just use his natural VOICE, rules be damned.

And the scales fell from my eyes. THAT's what was missing from the technically perfect query I had Frankensteined up!

So at least now I know what I have to do, even if I don't know how to do it. And good thing, too. My wife has assured me that if I use the word "query" one more time and we're not in a gay bar, she's going to show me just how PERSONAL a rejection can be.