Tag: writing progress

Cricket and Grey’s First Rejection Slip

I feel stalled like an old car whose engine fell out on the road to Vegas and has been abandoned in the most disgusting gas station in Truckee.  I still haven’t heard from the NYC book agent and I just found out that I wasn’t one of the five winners of the Shewrites contest.  I suppose I ought to feel comforted that my period of extreme rejection has begun.  The sooner I rack up my rejection account the sooner I can get to the part where I get published.  I should rejoice in being part of the well-respected depressing part of the writer’s life.  This is it.  I have a  book and am beginning the process of getting nowhere with it like thousands of other writers out there.  Today it feels like joining a cult that you know is going to take all your money and burn you on a special author-sized rotisserie.

The usual advice for writers who’ve gotten to this spot in the life of writing is to remind them that they aren’t writing for the sake of fame and fortune, right?  We’re really all just writing because we are driven to write, because we HAVE TO WRITE.  I’ve been asked many times “If you knew you’d never get published would you still write novels/poetry/blogs/stories?” and the answer is yes and no.  Yes, I’ll keep writing whether I get published or not.  But I don’t write simply to pursue pleasure.  This is not, for me, a fun hobby.  It isn’t something I do lightly or for the joy of it.  I do it for what I could make of it, for what I can build with it, for what it can become, for what I can create and then contribute to the world I live in.  A writer who has no desire or fire to be published is not a writer in the deepest and truest sense.  Not in my opinion.  A “real” writer is someone who feels compelled to share their words, who has a strong drive to tell other people stories, who wants more than anything in the world to be heard because they have something to say.

Being published isn’t the same as seeking fame and fortune.  I think every writer dreams of making enough money to live well on, to support their families on, and every writer hopes to have a name that means enough to publishers and agents that they can continue to publish as they create.  But being published and fame and fortune are not necessarily the same thing as many writers will tell you if only you will listen.  The J.K. Rowlings of this world are few.  However, a large audience is necessary to remain in print.  To get your story out there.  To say what you are burning to say you need people interested in listening and the best way to get more people to listen is to find an advocate with power (an agent and/or publisher), the power to put you in front of an audience.

Being published, no matter how you go about accomplishing it, is the most important thing a writer can do aside from the actual writing.  So yeah, this is incredibly important.

But I’m only in the beginning.  How to keep myself from getting bogged down is the question.  How to go through this process and not lose faith in myself or the strength of my the book I’m trying to get out there.  I don’t know.  I am itching to start work on Jane Doe but that one is so dark and I feel like having a book out there that isn’t published and working on others is like typing in the dark.  If Cricket and Grey turns out to not get published because it’s complete crap but I don’t find that out for five more years – what if I am just writing more crap?  What if I’m writing thinking I’ve written a great book and really it’s horrid but thinking it’s great I move forward in that style?

This is why even though Cricket and Grey is meant to be a series of four books I’m reluctant to work on the second one before knowing if anyone will ever print the first one.  I have my sights set on Jane Doe because it’s entirely different and at least if Cricket and Grey turns out to be a genuine bomb I will have a second (completely different) book to push.  That feels important.  Of course, if anyone does publish Cricket and Grey and likes the series idea I will probably have less than a year to write the second one even though the first one took two years to write.

Two years.  Two years of work and I love what I made but have no way of knowing it it’s viable in the publishing market and may not know for another two years.  My grey streak is getting thicker and whiter by the day.  I’m a little awed by the vast difference between the book writing and publishing time frame and the blogging publishing time frame.  A book can take years to see the light of day.  A blog post can take seconds.  I publish myself every week and it takes so little time.  I write a book and it took me two years.

I can’t see the future.  I can’t know what I really want to know.  Today I’ve lost a writing contest and I may very well soon get my first agent rejection.  My happy reflection is that I haven’t gotten it yet and as long as I haven’t heard from her she has not yet said no.  Since I can’t see the future I have to move forward, like all people do, listening to my instinct and trusting that while there are so many opportunities out there that aren’t meant for me, I will eventually find the one that is.

One last thought I have is that as disappointed as I am for myself, I am happy for the writers who are getting their book deals, agent offers, and winning contests because in a way they’re all part of a broad creative cultural family I belong to.  They are all people who may one day give me inspiration, courage, and help on my own path.  Learning not to resent the people who’ve finally found purchase on the ladder going up is part of being a truly professional writer.

I may feel stalled but I need to keep the momentum going so my goal for the next week is to research agents and pick five of them to query.  Meanwhile I will begin reshaping Jane Doe with the goal that by the new year I will have a finished first draft to start polishing up.

Goals are important.

I would also recommend that you don’t ever get stranded in Truckee.

Irreverence and the Bottom Line

Strep is a bitch and a pain and now that I’ve got that out of the way I’ll endeavor to remember what I really started this post to say.  Perhaps it was to confess that now that I like 4 whole Coldplay songs I’m going to have to start calling myself a fan.  No, that wasn’t it.  It’s damnably difficult to write a good kiss in fiction.  I’m pretty sure I meant to say that, but not yet, not right now.

I’m on the 16th chapter of my novel.  I have only 19 chapters total.  I’m in the home stretch.  I was definitely going to say that but I think I was actually going to shout it, first here, and then from my back yard so I could rouse all the cats and dogs in the neighborhood into a satisfying clamor.

I like irreverence and I like the bottom line but nothing in between.

I AM the bottom line most days.

Just counted words so far: 82,182

A number any obsessive compulsive can appreciate.

Projected total number of words: 100, 782.

Arrived at with a minimum of scientific attention.

I expect to reach that number by Friday.

I want to run through the streets yelling like a madwoman all the things that run through my head all day long.

Please don’t be offended if you’re a close personal friend of mine but it’s a fact that if you and I are anywhere near close friends then you’re mad as fucking hell and most certainly would have spent time in a sanatorium with me in the 1920’s.  I am not truly close to any genuinely mentally stable people.  Not a single one.  And don’t think I don’t know mentally stable people, because I do.  I’m just not close to them.

“Fuck you” is a very rude statement.  Or exclamation, if you prefer.  Yet I can’t deny how satisfying it is to say.  Every time I throw a fist into the air and give my war-cry I punctuate it with a resounding “Fuck you!”.  I understand that this is repugnant to many gentle people, but what I want to know is, what do you say that is equivalent to this?  And if you say something that measures up in sentiment then how could it possibly be more acceptable than my choice phrase?  If the feeling behind the words is the same then it isn’t the words that are objectionable but the sentiment.  Right?  Or wrong?

If you say “Curse you!” instead of “Fuck you!” is it not the same thing?  And if you say “Smudge you!” is not your heart expressing the same damnation to me as if you said “Fuck you!”?

Personally, if I believed in God I would have to credit him with enough wit to know that words are words but what’s in a person’s heart is what matters and if you take away the words “Fuck you!” and make them wrong to say, a person will still sometimes have that fuck you feeling and find a fresh way to express it because people’s feelings are generally irrepressible.

Which if I’m being totally honest, is one of the most charming things about us.

I’m trying to give Cricket and Grey a little moment of peace for courting and you have no idea how hard that is to do.

Because if I’m not careful I’ll make the whole book a blossom-drifting honeymoon just because I love them so much but my job as an author is to make them suffer enough for you to take an interest.

What does that say about you?

If you don’t like the tone of this post I suggest you direct your dissatisfaction at Coldplay, most specifically the following songs: “Yellow”, “Viva la Vida”, and “Clocks”.

Chapter sixteen of Cricket and Grey and this post are brought to you by those songs.

I think I need a wee break to watch “Downton Abbey”.

Or maybe I just stay up to write the rest of the chapter?

Can I pace myself and get done?

You know, I don’t think I can.  I think this is hell-for-leather time to the finish line.

Hell or high water.

I wonder what you all are biting the air to get finished, what are you all so excited about you can barely keep from exploding into a dirigible?

That thought is brought to you by my ten year old son who put a dirigible in a five page story he wrote because he wanted to.  Not for homework.  My little guy who has such a hard time writing (for practical reasons) is telling me about the books he’s going to write.  He’s proud to be the son of an artist and a writer and he works at both in his own violent style and it occurred to me today that he and Quentin Tarantino would have so much to talk about and while people (teachers, other parents) may feel shock at his zombie comics with all the severed heads and visceral pools of blood, I think the kid’s going to be alright.

As long as I can keep him alive to adulthood.

So I leave you now to go attend to the courtship of a pugilistic young woman who is learning not to feel alone.

It’s good to be a fictional character in my coterie.

I salute you.

Yes, you.

Last thought of the night: I tried to love a Waterman.

There you go.  My soul, emptied for your enjoyment.