Thursday, January 28, 2010

I am Le Tired

Hello Reader!  I'm exhausted from my midterm schedule/the worst two weeks of my life.  So I'm leaving you with a short blurb and an excerpt from the novel, The Proxy Wars: Dramatis Personae.  I hope you enjoy it, and please comment, suggest, critique it.

This is where Amar heads from Methoral Palace, the seat of Atlantis' monarchy in the year 3096, to the senate building.  Both are in the city of Atlantia.  His journey there and a couple of other things that happen are from Chapter 2: Three Days Later.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Wait, I'm supposed to be in school...

Hello Reader.  I'm writing to you from someplace other than my dorm room.  Amazing, right?  I think so. I'm in a computer lab.  Waiting for a class to start.  Because my days are always hectic, and I find myself living on campus rather than in my dorm room with my satisfying video games, laptop, and bed.  I haven't worked a lick on Proxy Wars: Dramatis Personae in some time.  Is it my fault, or am I going to blame my schoolwork for that?  I don't even know that yet. 

But that's not troubling me so much.  A) I've already written about time management, B) I'm pretty sure whining is not going to get me more blog readers.  What's really troubling me is the lack of attention being paid to the slush pile.  For those of you who don't know what that is, the slush pile is the aggregation of any unsolicited manuscripts that are sent out to publishers and agents by first-time authors. I've read a couple of interesting articles about the death of the slush pile - one of which you can find here.  It's disheartening to see what I think is an art form die.

The slush pile is a random pile of crap mixed with more chance than a Monopoly board.  Should I put a TM there?  Maybe when this is more popular.  Anyways, while the slush pile's cons are very large, I believe it's pros are much larger.  New writers bring new ideas.  Don't tell me there are no new stories.  You're right, and everyone else knows it.  So stop pretending you're intelligent.  What there are plenty of, are writers capable of telling the same stories over again in new and exciting ways.  The slush pile can give publishers and agents exactly that. 

Now by publishers, I mean Penguin and HarperCollins and another major "label" out there.  So one can imagine the girth that such a company may bring to finding new authors and new stories.  Is that an excuse to ignore the musings and hopes of so many voices?  I don't think so.  I'm not that well-versed in economics, and I'm definitely a new guy to the publishing scene - so new I haven't even been published yet!  But what I am well-versed in are second-chances and lucky breaks.  Because I've had several of them.  I've been given so many first chances and "Hey why don't you try this, and if you fail, we'll try again huh?"'s  that my life story is due in little part to my own machinations.  I've been the beneficiary of so many other people's generosity.  And I've done pretty well so far with all of that lovin'.  So why can't others get that treatment?

Why can't I get that treatment?  You can see where I'm coming from.  A place of greed and supplication.  I want to be lucky enough that publishers and agents will notice me in the slush pile.  I want to be that ridiculously blessed bastard who only sent out 15 query letters, got 10 rejections, and because of some secretary's mistake wound up with the rival to Harry Potter's ubiquity - I am so calling you out Stephanie Myers.  The death of the slush pile is killing that greed, replacing it with a forlorn sense of WTFery.  As an aspiring author, all I can do is look at articles like the Wall Street Journal one above and be catatonic with doubt.  Has anyone watched that movie?  It wasn't very good.

But why is it an art form, you, that anonymous reader who doesn't comment very often, ask?  Because voice is an art form.  And the slush pile gives you some of the most varied and wonderful voices you can imagine.  It's variety that's the spice of life, right?  Then again, they also give you crap like this:  oops, no one puts up stuff from the slush pile because they think it's not worth it.  Dicks.

Sorry about that.  I'm trying to make a more concerted effort at trying to stop my bitterness from making me digress.  It's difficult.

Anyways, I think I've found a way around the slush pile.  Whether I like it or not, the thing is dying.  The economy is forcing agents to be more wary of fiction, and publishers have outright refused to see anything that's not agented.  So I have to adapt to the times.  My solution?  Or desperate plan?  Submitting to literary magazines.  I've already got Westwind Literary magazine in my scope, and maybe I'll start writing some short stories so I can submit them to some other magazine.  God willing, one day I'll get to win an award or be published in a prestigious anthology.  Here's to hoping.  So that'll be my question of the day: What literary magazines do you know of?  Do you know anyone who's been published in one?  Leave comments, directions, and e-mails to those people, if you know them, below.  Until next time then.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Ugh, writing.

I haven't even touched my book.  For the past two weeks I've been focused on trying my hardest to be as lazy as possible, doing as little studying as possible.  That's not good, I know, but I'm mentally exhausted.  Nevermind, that's a blatant lie.  I'm just lazy.

Why shouldn't I be?  I've written a book (unpublished, I know), I've got a hellish school schedule: MWF 9-6 with a Tues. and Thurs. no better, and I've got three different organizations depending on me for work to be done.  I deserve rest!

No, not really.  My book is unpublished, I had the same kind of schedule last quarter, and the three org's aren't asking much.  Ugh, it's hard to find motivation for things you're not into.  I'm not into writing letters to people thousands of miles away, who'll probably pass me up like week-old cheese.  I'm definitely not passionate about physics, and life science reading is tedious. 

I read somewhere that writing a novel is only part passion.  The rest of it is hating your work until it's perfect.  I think I'm paraphrasing egregiously, but it sounds good doesn't it?  I'm really trying to get a handle on that last part.  I've become prone to writing in bouts of passion, furiously finishing ten pages and then being lazy for the next week or so.  It gets me great writing, but it's slow progress.  It took me five years to get 310 pages worth of my thoughts on paper.  That's too long.

So what should my solution be?  An updated To Do List everyday?  Just slap myself into action more often?  What do you do to get yourself into the mood to do work?  Until next time then.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

And It's Done

Hello Reader.  I have finally managed to finish The Proxy Wars: Dramatis Personae.  I was waiting on a friend of mine's criticisms of the novel, and she's handed them in.  They're soooo good.  And that leads me to believe that there's a real beauty to peer review.

When someone who's your age is reviewing your work, and I'm specifically talking about novels here, then they are privy to the same cultural touchstones that you are.  These things are the centerpieces of your fictional work, your storyline.  Every story is dated in one way or another, very few truly transcend time.  Of course, there are novels that address themes that transcend time, but each one has a cultural item that is particular to its time.  Mine is a disproportionate influence by J.K. Rowling. 

There seems to be a trend, starting from the '90s I guess - but remember that's when I was born so it could've started earlier - of a triumvirate of friends: two guys and a girls.  There was a show about it.  Cory, Topanga, and Shawn.  Those three names are like, the Trinity of sitcom for '90s babies.  And, king of them all, Harry, Hermine, and Ron.  I've got Briok, Proteus, and Kara.  Influence number one.  Cultural touchstone number one.  Dated book.

I'm not sad about it.  It's something I can't avoid.  My point in bringing it up is that peer review allows the author to see his/her reader enjoy these cultural influences.  My friend immediately recognized the dynamic, and she said she liked it.  That's an amazing feeling, when your reader sees the idea you're trying to get across, or enjoys the relationship you're portraying.  It's fulfilling and makes the ordeal of writing a novel worth it.

Another cultural touchstone in my novel would be the use of religion.  It was interesting to see my friend's reaction when she saw that religion, especially the three large monotheistic faiths, all existed in my far-flung future.  But again, it was an awesome sight to see her appreciating my idea that religion still exists a thousand years from now.  If you look at today's world, religion plays a huge role in geopolitical events.  I'm not going to say moreso than ever before, but religion has certainly become a part of the global conversation.  It's another cultural touchstone that I allude to, and another aspect of my novel that can only truly be appreciated by someone of my own age.

All in all, it was good sitting down and reviewing my book with her.  It made me feel better, see things I wouldn't have otherwise, and receive objective opinions about my novel from someone who isn't as attached to it as I am.  So, here's my weekly question to you, whoever reads this.  What cultural touchstone do you think has become a part of the world, or America's, zeitgeist?  A part of our national, or international, conversation?  Leave comments below.  Until next time then.