Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

The Synopsis

Posted: June 20, 2016 in Writing
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For the writer, there is no proper synopsis for his creation. There is no genesis or completion for anything he has written. It is all one blurb, one moment, one nexus. This is the reason the writer has such difficulty in summing up his production in one short clause. To the writer, the entire story is one fantastic, beguiling memory.

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BLACK IRON MERCY  TO BE LAUNCHED IN JUNE

I’m so very happy and proud to announce that I’ve signed a contract with Deeds Publishing of Athens, Georgia, to publish my novel, Black Iron Mercy.  Final edits have been applied to the manuscript and it’s on its way to the creative director for the layout process.

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Whew!  It’s been four and a half years since I started the research for this project.  Nine months of research, two years of writing, a lifetime of editing, and five long months of querying and rejection have culminated in success.  It’s been a long road, but could have been so much longer if not for the help and support of my family and friends.

Thank you to all of YOU, my friends and followers, for your continued support through your words of kindness and encouragement, assessment and criticism.  So many of you have said the right words at just the right moment, providing motivation and inspiration to continue this voyage.  I’m grateful!

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I DESERVE TO BE REJECTED, DANG IT!

This will be a short post about the query process and the rejections that go with it.  Yes, I’ve covered this topic before, but that was long before my manuscript was complete and ready for agents to view.  Writing about it then was like a virgin writing about the experience of intercourse.  You think you know, but you don’t.

I’m 19 query letters into the publication industry and I’ve been rejected just five times.  I’ll be sending out more in the morning.  I am still an infant in this process, but I can say that being rejected is not the big bad wolf I had thought it would be.  In fact, all of the feedback I’ve received has been positive.  One agent’s rejection letter read, “Thank you for a wonderful note!”  Another’s said, “Your process is excellent and there’s a lot to like about your approach, but…”  My favorite so far, in response to a section of a query that praised the agent and the author for an important work:  “Your letter was a wonderful surprise!  It’s always nice to hear that someone’s work has inspired someone to do something good – I’ll be sure to share that info with Sarah. But I’m sorry to say that due to the huge stack of manuscripts awaiting my review, I must declare a moratorium on new submissions for the rest of the year.”

Of the five agents to reject me, only one had nothing personal to say to me.  That’s okay, too.  See, I’m just happy to receive NOTICE of a rejection.

So many literary agencies have a disclaimer such as this on their website:  “Due to the volume of submissions we receive, we can’t reply to all, but we do review each one carefully and will be in touch if we’d like to see more material from you.”  Some will say, “If you haven’t heard from us in ___  weeks, you can assume we are not interested in your work.”

Now, I understand how busy literary agents are.  Some receive as many as 500 queries in one week, making personal contact with aspiring authors nearly impossible.  If they’re responding to all who query them, they have little time to act as agents for those they represent.  It must be hard for them to come back from vacation.

For writers, however, it is one thing to be rejected.  It is another thing altogether to be denied a rejection.  To me, having a rejection withheld is far, far worse.

I’ll take that rejection notice every time, thank you.

If you’re a literary agent who happens to read this post, please know how grateful I am to those who take a moment to write a note, personal or not, that says, “No.”

It’s the right thing to do.

WORDS

Posted: December 7, 2014 in Writing
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A picture is worth a thousand words.

More often than not, I’ll take the words.

Do all writers lose their minds?  Surely not, but if such a high number of the famous ones go mad, I’m guessing that an even higher percentage of the lesser known writers tinker in madness.

Way before I even dreamed of writing professionally I had a certain fascination with the lunacy of the world’s great writers.  Talents like Petronius, Pound, Hemingway, and Nietzsche, who, for valid reasons or not, descended into madness, shortening their lives and their portfolios, forever robbing the world of what might have been.

Woolf.  Mayakofsky, Pavese.  Berryman.

It’s no secret that writers are susceptible to severe depression.  There are even surveys and studies that say so –

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2010/dec/13/writers-depression-top-10-risk

http://www.elizabethmoon.com/writing-depression.html

Hans Christian Andersen. Truman Capote. Charles Dickens. Henry James.

Does one need to be depressed to be a writer, or does writing merely lead one into depression?

Celan.  Sexton.  Plath.  Brautigan.

In the publishing world of today, writer’s often find themselves spending more time in selling themselves to the public than they do in producing written material.  Blogging, queries, synopses, bios, blogging, queries, synopses, bios. Rejection, rejection, rejection.  All of this leads to more self-evaluation than is necessary for most people.  It is easy to see how one’s self-image gets tanked through the 21st century publishing process.

This leads me to believe that the problem writers face with depression may be greater than ever before.  Writers of past centuries were not nearly as exposed to criticism and rejection as the writers of today.

Gray.  Wallace.  Thompson.  Kane.

It is important to keep your perspective as a writer.  It is important to keep your perspective as a human being.  You are just one tiny element in a grandiose world of mortal objects.  We want to feel important, yet what we do is really not all that important, except to those that are closest to us while we’re here.

Sometimes, for perspective, I like to stop what I’m doing and spend a moment with one of my pets.

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Ashes, the EMS Cat, at age one.

Ashes doesn’t care if I get published.  She doesn’t care what I say as long as I’m not yelling at her.  She just wants me to feed her and stroke her fur once in a while… and she wants to be able to crap in a clean box of litter, too.

Sigh.

I’m still sane, at least for the moment.

Stay sane, writers.

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Today I’m grateful for reaching 1000 followers on WordPress, an experience that I find delightful and humbling. Thank you to each and every one of you for becoming a part of my writing life.

Peace and love to you and yours!

The Unexpected Side-Effect of Creating My Blog

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I just read a post about Naomi and Logan battling for the Goblet at the Genesis Fencing Club.  That’s so damn ridiculous.  I don’t know anything about fencing.  I hadn’t planned on a fencing education.

I have as much time for reading about fencing as I have for bronchitis.

I’ve been at this blogging thing for two weeks or so now.  I didn’t get into this willingly.  Long story made short:  I did it because the publishing industry tells me I have to do it.  Am I really writing about this again?  I’m still trying to polish my manuscript and then begin my second novel.  With my job(s), my family, my hobbies, my whatever, I don’t have time for a blog.  Besides, who’ll read it?  What will I write about?  You get it.

Alright, I’ll write occasionally on this “WordPress” thing.

Woah, there’s a lot of people writing on this “WordPress” thing.  I don’t have time to read what anyone else is writing.  Too bad for all of them.

Hey look, some guy wrote a poem about aluminum siding.  Hang on, I’m gonna get me a cold pop.

An hour later, I’ve read posts about Joe Buck, Mount Rushmore, CSS guidelines, and Dungeons and Dragons.

I haven’t played Dungeons and Dragons in 27 years.

I get lost in topics like icebergs, iceberg lettuce, heat waves, and riding waves.  I’m fascinated by someone’s passion for table tennis and someone else’s lack of passion for passion.  I blushed at an excerpt from an erotic novel.

I read about “MAN STUFF,” like monster trucks and football.  I read about “WOMAN STUFF,” like doilies, and Longaberger Baskets.

I’ve been misty and angry about lost loves, cancer, rejection, betrayal, rape, and attempted murder.  I’ve been amazed by the resilience of people who have survived the most dreadful events possible and yet can still see the good in God, the world, and their fellow-man.

I’ve read posts about diapers and menstrual cycles, my brain absorbing each one like a….

Sweet Brown!  Did I really almost make that joke?

I’ve spent more time reading YOUR blogs, my fellow bloggers, than I’ve spent in working, writing, editing, eating, and driving in this past week.  Yesterday, someone accused me of “spam liking” posts.  Is that really a thing?  Spam liking?  I promise:  If I liked your post, I read your post.  I may not have understood it, but I read it.  I am guilty, however, of “following” more bloggers than I could ever legitimately follow.  Need a follower?  Just cough.  I’ll probably jump and click it.

I’ve read spectacularly worded posts about the most boring, trivial things.  I’ve read posts in need of spell-checks and major grammatical overhauls that tell the most fantastic stories.

I’ve laughed, cried, cringed, yelled, smiled, frowned, shared, screamed, and rolled my eyes because of YOUR posts.

I stopped reading books when I started reading your posts.  Last year, I read 108 books.  I was in the middle of “Intelligence,” by Susan Hasler, when WordPress kidnapped me.  I’m wondering now if I’ll ever get back to it.  Right now, I don’t give a shit.  No offense to Ms. Hasler.  I was enjoying her book.  If she’d share chapters of it in a blog I’d be sure to read them.

When I’m not reading blogs, I’m thinking of tags to enter, such as “leotards” and “Casper Weinberger,” just to see what pops up.

God, help me.  This is addictive.

Alright!  Everybody stop writing for the next four years or so.  That’ll give me time to catch up.

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As writers, we struggle every day with our image.  If we’re not writing then we’re thinking about our writing and what others are thinking about our writing, holding our breath as we click on the comments or open the email, worried that the criticism will be negative.  We exhale audibly when it isn’t… grit our teeth when it is.

Many critics, qualified or not, will always find the good.  “Keep at it,” or “You’re almost there,” or “I like your snarky sense of humor.”

Many critics, qualified or not, won’t.  “That’s interesting,” is the BEST compliment they can offer.  “That’s interesting,” is about the worst thing someone can say about your writing.

Does any of it really matter?  Who are YOU to judge my work… and who the hell am I to judge yours?  Should I worry about whether or not you like my article any more than whether or not you like my Christmas sweater?

Case in point:  When I was in grammar school, I was pretty darn close to the boys who lived across the street from me.  One is a year older than me, the other a year younger.  When I was about ten years old, they moved across town and our relationship, although still intact, diminished in frequency of visits and such.  By the end of high school, we seldom talked.

After another ten years or so had passed, I made attempts to contact those old boys.  Those attempts were ignored… and I didn’t think much about it.  Then, with the advent of social media, the means I use to connect with people I hadn’t EVER spoken to while in school, my attempts at rekindling our friendship were rejected.

What had I done to them so long ago?  What is wrong with me?  Why would they shun me so?  Maybe they didn’t like my Christmas sweater?

More years passed.

Recently, an uncle of those boys passed away.  My wife, through her employer, knows the deceased’s wife pretty well, and they had become pretty good friends over the years.  In order to support her friend, my wife and I attended the funeral.  Of course, we’d long known of the widow’s association to those former friends of mine, but my showing up at the funeral was a complete surprise to them.

The greeting I received was cold, at best.  That’s okay, I wasn’t there for them anyway.

My wife and I spent nearly an hour at the funeral, socializing with a few of the mourners, and I had a good amount of time to observe my former friends socializing with their extended family.

Now, this post is supposed to be about me.  It’s supposed to be about how I feel about myself and how others see me as a writer.  It is not intended as a passive-aggressive assault on some former friends who wouldn’t talk to me.

They’re standing off to one side, talking to each other.  They’re greeting their OWN FAMILY as they greeted me.  They’re having difficulty engaging in conversation with their own kin.

HOLY SHIT, THEY’RE SOCIAL MORONS.

See, sometimes, when you’re sure it’s about you, it isn’t about you at all.

This doesn’t mean that you should blow off criticism as the advice of an idiot.  Criticism can be the meteor that changes history.  But if the criticism isn’t of the constructive kind, then it’s best to consider the source, rather than the words.

Believe in yourself.  Have faith in YOU.  You can accomplish anything you want, regardless of what others say.

I have never owned nor worn a Christmas sweater, by the way.

INSPIRATION COMES IN MANY FORMS

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I am inspired today by the heat of the sun and water in the street, the sound of rushing fluids draining into the grated iron on the street corner.  I may have forgotten that snow is mortal.  Its death brings new life to me at this time each year.

I am inspired by the generosity of those closest to me, their words of encouragement and motivation, their smiles, their warmth, their selfless gifts of time spent, confidence, and optimism.

I am inspired by the hospitality and kindness of strangers.  People who have taken a moment or a minute, perhaps a quarter-hour of one day of their life, to offer comfort or wisdom, faith or criticism, or maybe a one-word vote of confidence such as, “Nice!”  It is a travesty to label such people “strangers.”

Today, I am inspired by you simply because you’re reading this.

Thank you.

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Well looky here… I’m a blogging machine.

The publishing industry says I should put my name out there via websites and blogs, so that’s what I’ve been doing.  I’ve written more over the last year and a half than I’d written in the previous twenty years.  Funny thing is:  Most of what I’m writing has nothing to do with my manuscript, my search for literary agents, or my quest to get myself and my work published.

Yeah, I know.  I KNOW.  It doesn’t matter what I’m writing.  The publishing industry says I need to put my name out there so as to have a following ahead of time.  I also need to build a nest so that I have a warm, dry place to nourish my work once I get it published.  I understand that most of my current work — this type of sidebar — is necessary to the end result.

I’d love to go back in time and read the blogs of Edgar Allen Poe and Walt Whitman… you know, the ones they were writing to build their followings and to impress their literary agents when their real work was ready.

My second novel, “Working Title,” has just 1,452 words out of a probable 55,000.  I’m neglecting it at this very moment so that I can add this current blog to my body of work to impress those that will one day shatter my dreams.

Please note:  I haven’t been rejected.  My first novel isn’t quite ready for submission.  This blog is in response to all of those future rejection letters, as well as those that I’ve had the pleasure of reading through other bloggers here on WordPress.  Those are so very joyful.

I’ve said it before.  I’m really not into attention seeking behavior.  Part of this stems from a fear of failure.  Wait, that’s not exactly true. Yes, I fear failure, but it’s more accurate to say that I fear people noticing my failures.  I don’t like people to see me at my worst.  I don’t like it when I appear flawed.  I don’t like it when people criticize my work.

Oh God.  Why the hell did I write a book?

People love to tell me that J.K. Rowling was turned down __ times.  Stephen King was rejected __ times.  Hemingway had the door slammed on him __ times.

Is this really going to make me feel better when the rejection is pouring in?

I’m supposed to show the world that I can write.  I’ve done that.  I’m supposed to show the world an occasional excerpt from those things that I want published.  I’ve done that.

What if all I’m doing is leaving a trail, like a snail, of my failures.

My followers encourage me not to give up.  If I never give up and yet never get my work published, then the only thing published shall be rejection and failure.  I’ve done so many other good, positive things with my life.  Maybe I should stick to blogging about my successes, instead.

I’ve got a beautiful wife and three lovely children.