inasmuch as it concerns Industrious Thoughts:
Pondering that dysfunctional little corner of the economy known as The Publishing Industry.
Mostly About Train Accomodations
- 58,644 wds. long
- 119.25 hrs. revised
Approaching Omaha, Nebraska. All roads lead there. This track goes there, in any case. I'm going to bed, having finally gotten myself out of chapter two and into Mike's gold corvette at the beginning of chapter three.
One of these days I'll actually get through the whole damn book. And then I shall hobble out to the bus, being too old to safely drive, and limp into the post office, and say, "What new-fangled devices do you have for sending two hundred and fifty page manuscripts to publishers? Back in my day, we used cardboard boxes. Do you have some sort of instantaneous matter transport for this now? Because," and here I shall flip my long white hair most fetchingly, "I didn't get to the age of one hundred and seventy just to keep on using cardboard boxes!" Because that is how old I shall be when this damn book is finally ready for prime time.
Meh. Back on the train. I upgraded to a sleeper because, y'know, I could, and I was curious, and I liked the idea of complimentary dinner in the diner and a room/closet of my own with privacy and a bed.
I got a lot of writing done. There is an outlet in the room (it says "razors only" but I don't think they actually mean that anymore), so I could keep my laptop charged without worrying about the cafe lounge steward asking me, "Did you take the duct tape off that outlet?" all accusatory-like. And since I'm not in the cafe lounge, I am not constantly being asked "So is that schoolwork? What are you studying?" and being told, "Writing, huh? I wrote a few things myself," and being invited to play spades with a trio headed for Greenwood, Mississippi, and being asked where the outlet is, and all. And I've been playing my music without headphones, and singing along, and everything.
On the other hand, all of the above are reasons why riding coach is great for socializing. I had a lot of fun playing spades last night, and I got into all sorts of neat conversations that started with someone asking me what I was studying, and I was able to find Laura at The Corner Bakery because my cell phone conversation with her was overheard by someone with a map. On this leg of the trip, the only socializing I've really done has been over dinner--but whoa, boy, did some socializing get done. (Hi, Jason! You're supposed to be writing, remember? Go on! Meh-heh-heh-heh.) And I've only been in the cafe lounge twice. The first time was to acquire a cup of hot water for my tea (the steward was all like, "No," and "Where did you get that cup?!" and then, "Oh, sleeper? OK," and then he filled it up with hot water finally. Apparently the cups by the coffee machine in sleeper are distinctive and arouse suspicion in the lounge car). The second time was to contiune the conversation begun over dinner when the dining car stewards asked us to leave so they could clean up.
So I suppose the summary is, riding coach is like staying in a mobile youth hostel, while riding sleeper is like being on a cruise ship. The lack of privacy in coach leads to meeting a lot of people, unless it leads to covering your face with your jacket and your ears with your headphones, which it does for just about everyone at night because the aisle lighting and general movement about the car can lead to insomnia. The availability of privacy in the sleepers leads to much enjoyment of said privacy, which includes the ability to turn off all the lights and sleep in whatever state of undress you please. And, y'know, I'm OK with that. Once in a while. When I have the extra $$ to spend on it.
Tomorrow: Breakfast, another hour or two of novel revision (that would be Brian's abortive road trip and much flashback of his conversation with Todd the night before), and arrival in Denver. And finally getting to post these blog posts I haven't been able to yet. Beware Of Backdating.
Period of Mourning
- 15,510 wds. long
So, I did about 2,000 words yesterday. I plan to do another 2,000 words today. But I'm having one of those "Who the hell cares about my petty concerns?" days, ever since hearing that they're pulling the plug on SciFiction. Damn it. Without my ever managing to sell Ellen Datlow a story for it. Double damn.
You should go there, now, and read the voluminous archives of short fiction. I think it'll be on display until the new year; after that, all bets are probably off. Today I read the latest original story on it ("Man For The Job," by Robert Reed) and over the next few weeks I'll read the archives in backwards order, one story at a time. Such a wealth of fiction should not go to waste. I hope someone (Ellen Datlow maybe?) will anthologize it.
So, yeah. Huge, huge bummer.
Talk to you in another 2,000 words, I suppose.
You mean I'm allowed to do Adam & Eve spec. fic.?
- 257 wds. long
Sex and the YA Novel
- 52,888 wds. long
- 7.50 hrs. revised
Western society lives in a most incredible state of denial. The more I hear about schools wanting to ban books like The Giver and The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, the more I'm amazed at the sheer duplicity of it all. "We can't let teenagers read about sex like it was normal!" When of course not only is sex normal to humanity, it's exceedingly normal to adolescence. I mean, think about the hormonal storm that puberty unleashes in a teenager. If YA literature conspires to pretend sex doesn't exist--or to only acknowledge sex as That From Which Godly Folk Refrain--why are we surprised when kids don't know how to handle their urges and start hating themselves for having those urges?
It's just freakin' stupid, OK? That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.
None of which helps me figure out how best to handle the main story arc of my novel, in which a love spell comes to fruition with frightening effectiveness. The "climax" of that problem occurs when the two main characters Very Nearly Do It, and if you can't put that in YA literature, where the heck do you put it, given that the characters are high-school students? How do you write about real live fourteen-year-olds with hormones and emotions and believable complexity and still escape the censure of your community?
You get one lie for free, because it's fiction. I've already used up my lie quota on the magic notebook. I'm not going to push my luck by pretending that teenagers Never, Ever Think About That.
I remember a phone conversation with my grandmother recently; she had just finished complaining about all the sex and violence in today's TV, all the nudes in today's artwork, all the sex in today's pop songs... and then she wants to know when she gets to read my book. "I don't think you'll like it much," I said.
Neil Gaiman: "I once said in an interview that I'd just about got used to the idea that my parents would probably be reading anything I wrote when I realised that my kids were now reading anything I wrote."None of the above, of course, excuses the extremely self-indulgent way I treated the almost-sex-scenes in the NaNoWriMo draft. The rallying cry of "Realistic Teenagers, For Gods' Sake!" shouldn't be confused with the ubiquitous spam come-on of "We Got Yer Hot Teen Pr0n Right Here." So I'm making lots of notes in the margins along the lines of "Back off," or "She only gets as far as touching his zipper," or "What are you, fixated? Stop it!"
Whoo-boy, type-in's gonna be fun.
On Hypothetical Deadlines
- 52,888 wds. long
- 2.00 hrs. revised
- 44,982 wds. long
- 41.25 hrs. revised
Did I mention that I mailed the book proposal off Wednesday? I mailed the book proposal off Wednesday. I imagine it's in a towering stack of book proposals, manilla envelopes weighing a pound and a half each, early birds with first class stamps lording it over late-comers with their electronic priority mail postage stickers. I imagine a room filled with the smell of coffee, the slowly hystericizing giggles of overworked slush readers punctuated by the rip of envelopes and the flip of pages.
Well, no, it's probably a little early for slush readers to get slush drunk. At 8:00 AM Pacific Time, it might even be too early for slush at all. I have no idea what a WOTC slush reader's schedule is like.
And how's the book coming, you ask? You just keep right on asking that. You go right ahead. While you're at it, ask me how much sleep I'm going to get tonight. Uh-huh. That's right.
In better news, NaNoEdMo 2005 is coming along nicely.
And let's close this morning's entry with product placement: Have you looked through your share of keyholes today? Well, why not? Look at the kind of stuff you get to see! For instance, this blog entry features a lovely composite satellite image of Gasworks Park, in Seattle, where several important scenes in this story take place. Look! You can see the sundial!
(It should be noted that Google--who bought the software, incorporated it into their Maps Beta, and renamed it "Google Earth"--did not pay me to say that. But I wouldn't turn down payment for having said it. Should Google feel moved to grant me a free subscription for plugging this delightful piece of software, I won't complain.)
In Which The Author Gets All Macho-like.
- 48,078 wds. long
- 31.50 hrs. revised
- 52,888 wds. long
- 0.00 hrs. revised
Oft-heard advice to writers new to the novel-writing scene: "Do not send in your 3+synop to an agent or publisher until the entire novel is finished!" I agree. Until you've written a few of these beasts and determined for yourself how long it takes you to finish—hell, until you've determined that you can finish—it's sheer madness to send out the first three chapters of an unfinished novel. Not only do you risk getting a request for the full manuscript before the full manuscript is actually ready; you risk those first three chapters developing changes as you finish the rest of the novel, causing your original submission to become inconsistent with the full manuscript. Both of these problems are bound to cause you to lose reputation points.
Well, hey. Madness. Fine place to visit. I'm headed there Monday.
The WOTC deadline is March 1. That leaves only, erm, 9 days between now and then. And here's where I'm at: I've got three chapters done and edited, all except for the final fine-tuning. What the hey. Let's ship 'em off on Monday and then write like a fiend, right?
Reason 1: If I don't submit until after I've edited the whole manuscript, I'm going to miss the deadline. So it's go mad, or just stay out of the pool.
Reason 2: I've mostly been stuck on the edit because I know the novel needs a lot more structure and interim crises than it has at the moment. If I prepare a submission for mailing on Monday, that means I'll have written up a synopsis and a well-organized, exciting chapter-by-chapter outline. Ta-da! Structure and crises. After that, the rest of the edit should go swimmingly.
Reason 3: Submitting on Monday puts me in the position of either hoping they don't pick my submission as one of the ten finalists, or working like a dog to get the manuscript ready in case they ask for it on March 2. I don't enter contests that I hope not to win, which leaves me only plan B. Tricking the external world into enforcing my internal deadlines is a nice way to make deadlines stick.
Reason 4: This is not the novel I want to work on for National Novel Editing Month. Nope. This is. Accordingly, I need to get the current novel the hell out of my way by the time March 1 rolls around.
So, there you go. Four reasons for the absolute madness of a first-time novelist submitting the first three chapters without having the rest of the manuscript in hand. If I manage to get caught with my literary pants down, you'll be the first to know. But I ain't planning on that happening. Just You Watch.
Still not dead.
To all two or three of you who actually read this and might be wondering: No, I'm not dead, and the novel's not dead.
As to the blog, I'm trying to do a bit of rebuilding on it such that it accomodates other writing subjects besides those novels I've drafted as part of NaNoWriMo. I've been doing a bunch of work on short fiction these last few months, and I've also been hanging out in the AbsoluteWrite forums where the demise or the cleaning-up of PublishAmerica is being ardently hoped for. So many writing subjects to talk about! So many ways to organize blog entries! Plus I wanna try writing my own RSS feed, too.
And as to the novel, I confess to dragging my heels. But! I've written a Whole New Short Story! To submit here! Go me.
So. More later, as available. Kisses.