Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Book is a Beast

Hello Reader!  So let's begin this post with a lament.  No, it's more like a bastardized form of a complaint.  It's so hard to get a novel organized!!!  There are so many things being juggled around at once.  From sequencing to flow to tone, I'm reeling from the variety of plates I've got to keep spinning.

It's all due to the episodic nature of the novel.  I'm not talking about novels in general, I'm talking about mine.  Each chapter is devoted to one theme.  Will an agent think I'm just a schizophrenic teenage author?  It's scary wondering what someone will say about your work that's hundreds of miles away.

Actually, that might be the fear that's really behind my complaints.  Everything from sequencing of events to the tone of the novel are things I can fix.  I guess I'm not truly afraid of those things. I'm just being lazy.  What I'm really scared of are the agents that'll be reading my work.  They don't have an emotional attachment to who I am and what I'm trying to do.

I read a lot of the interviews that these agents give.  They're so damn generic about what they want.  It's like trying to interpret a woman.  Yes means no, but only on Tuesdays when you're having Fried Fish.  Otherwise, Yes means Yes, unless you've gone to the bathroom three times that day.  These are exaggerations, but read anyone of the links above to the Literary Blog.  Sometimes I feel like even these agents don't know what they want.

One guy said that he threw out the Lovely Bones because he couldn't handle it.  He had three daughters and he just couldn't bear to read about a little girl being raped and killed.  Well, how the Hell was Alice Sebold supposed to know that?  Do I have to stalk each and every agent I'm querying?  Should I not send my book to an agent whose father died when they were a young age?  It's baffling how subjective these guys can be, and I, as an author, still have to depend on them!

And then there's the hatred out there for science fiction.  Jeez, no really respectable agent represents it!  It feels like my name has to be Isaac Asimov for me to get published in the genre.  I don't even want to be published in that genre, I want to be in commercial fiction.  But I've got aliens and spaceships in my book.  Nothing matters except for those things.  I barely even have spaceships!  There's only one!  In the first five pages of the book!  And then it's gone.  Ya, I've got tons of aliens, but they're not the slithery kind that like to suck your brains out.  They've got passions and hatreds, loves and loss. 

I'm venting, yes.  But it feels good.  Anyways, I guess I'd better suck it up. It's normal I suppose to be afraid of putting yourself in the fire.  It's a part of life to be afraid of judgment and paranoid of ridicule.  It's also part of life to deal with stubborn people who only see one path, even though you see another.  I've got to convince them my way is the coolest, otherwise this book will stay a 300 page waste of hard drive space.  Let's hope this winter break changes that.  Until Next Time Then.

1 comment:

  1. You’re right. It’s hard to organize a novel, especially one as episodic as yours. I’m getting the feeling that it’s going to work for you, though; the idea of sticking to a theme is a good one, something a bit out of the ordinary. I can’t say for certain, obviously, but from your excerpts and your descriptions, I think you’re going to tie everything together. What is great though is that you’re right—you can fix everything about your novel, assuming you have the desire to do so. And not doing so isn’t lazy. Just means you don’t feel the need to change it and ultimately it’s your opinion that matters the most.

    That said, oh my goodness is it scary, wondering and waiting about what someone will say about your work. Every time I give someone my piece, I have to restrain myself from nagging and driving myself crazy over what they’re going to think. It’s the worst because it always takes SO LONG for anyone to give you their opinion and in that time you convince yourself that it’s the worst thing you’ve ever written and why’d you give it to people and so on…

    Your paragraph about agent interviews is funny. :D It made me laugh; I didn’t know you had a sense of humor. It’s funny because it’s true, it is so true. And I got to admit, Lovely Bones is an AMAZING book. I loved it, and I understand your frustration about how subjective they are and how you feel that you need to stalk them to understand what they actually want. But the cool thing is how many agents there are out there. Even if you don’t please one, there’s another one out there to ask. Of course, you have a point that agents and the world in general has attached this stigma to science fiction. But have you read or even just looked at like 90% of science fiction? It’s garbage. It’s like all the bad authors out there hang out in fantasy and sci fi. Of course…we also get the most incredible authors when we do find the good ones. I see what you mean though; your story really ISN’T about the aliens and science…it’s about people and how they relate to each other. I’m trying to think of an example of a mainstream literature book that’s also sci-fi. I know a lot of Margaret Atwood’s books are set in a kind of post-apocalyptic setting or an intensely futuristic one…no aliens though. I’m sure I’ll think of a precedent though. Like where do zombie books fall, like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies? I think you could argue that your book doesn’t HAVE to be considered sci-fi. Also, your “I barely even have spaceships! There’s only one!” is kind of adorable, ha ha.

    Your way is the coolest and you will convince them and no matter what happens, your story is never a 300 page waste of space. The novel/novel series is you, and you wouldn’t say you’re a waste of space, would you? :)