Thursday, January 1, 2009

Back ta woik, ya bum.

It's been a nice, relaxing winter break, visiting relatives in Arizona, watching lots of movies (we are extremely grateful that the kids are getting older and we can watch grown-up movies like Benjamin Button and Valkyrie while they're still in the theaters, and the kids can go watch their movies in the next room).

But, it's time to go back to work.

I gave myself a deadline of 1/15 to get my ~30k MS off for Mari at Apex to critique, and I still have some work to do to prepare. 

To that end: I took Robert Swartwood's advice when we got back to Vegas and ran down to the library and picked up a David Morrell book on fiction writing best-practices. It's been very valuable so far (thanks a bunch, Robert). One of the excercises I found particularly telling to guage the strength of a story early on in the process is a kind of self-dialogue to 'discuss' the story...with the assistance of that as a vetting mechanism for my next steps, I've decided that I want to continue on with Mojave with some additional development work, and will build that out to use as my MS for Mari (as opposed to Seattle Pizza, which I still like but will focus on later). Here is an excerpt from my discussion with myself on Mojave (this was not only a valuable excercise, but actually kind of fun to do):

Why is the Vegas compound an interesting topic for a story?

It would be interesting to watch it grow as a commercial, well-funded petri dish experiment.

Why is that interesting?

Because it explores commercialism and greed as a lord of the flies-type microcosm outside of government oversight.

Why should anyone besides sociologists care?

Because it helps people explore their own personal feelings about greed, society, rules, roles, and beliefs.


Indeed. Word.

...and so on for several pages, until the story and characters (and holes therein) really start to take shape in a much stronger way than just writing front-to-back or working off of an outline. You basically have to convince yourself that it's a story worth reading.

As for 2008...I decided I wanted to (attempt to) become a writer, against all odds and rational judgement. Since July, I have written eight short stories and a short screenplay, submitted them collectively to seventeen markets, had two published, one take the silver medal in a contest, and still have five of the seventeen submissions pending. I started two novels, and have aged close to seven years in the last six months. And I have learned that the stinging backhand of a rejection letter is all part of the process and, I've heard, it does, eventually, get easier. Or numbs faster. Either works.

And I have met some great and helpful folks in the literary blogosphere. Here's to all of us getting fat book deals in 2009, keeping our sanity through the economic turmoil, and generally having a great year.


Jamie Eyberg said...

Raising a glass to a great year (okay so the glass has orange juice in it but it is still a glass)

Barry Napier said...

I know all about aging years over the course of a few months. At the tender age of 29, I received my first gray hair while formulating an ending to my WIP "Broken Skies". It's all good,'s not very noticeable if I comb my hair a certain way.

Aaron Polson said...

Internal dialogue is huge. 2008 was a good year to start writing. Cheers for 2009!

Natalie L. Sin said...

Be a successful writer AND sane? Aren't we greedy ; )

Robert said...

Glad Morrell's book is working for you. I tried that self-dialogue thing once for a novel but haven't done it since -- I don't know why, as it really is helpful ... maybe laziness on my part. I should really try it again on the next book.

Mojave definitely sounds like it's going to be fun. Good luck!

Oh, and yes, the sting of rejections will eventually fade to nothing. As I'm sure some famous writer said somewhere, if you're not being rejected, you're not doing it right.

Anonymous said...

I can't wait to read! :)

Jeremy Kelly said...

That's an interesting idea - the dialogue bit.

I'm afraid that if I were to do that, however, I'd talk myself out of just about every story I wanted to write. Guess you have to have a good amount of self confidence for such an endeavor.