Friday, 27 March 2009

Literary agent and editor

Trawling around the internet I came across this very interesting interview with a literary agent and editor (nothing like Stu Stuart or Edie Tor, you'll be pleased to hear) which answers a lot of questions about how the business works.

It's a little over an hour long but worth taking the time to view.


Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Cracking on

I'm cracking on with the current WIP, now a few words shy of the 50k word mark, Chapter 17. In the last week the story has really taken off and I feel like it's moving along at a cracking pace. Sometimes it's like that, leaving me struggling to keep up.

Part of the drive to get this one finished is I really want to go back to the story I wrote last year. It's a funny thing. I'd wanted to write about this particular historical event for years - even tried a couple of times but didn't really get anywhere. Do you ever get a theme or subject in your head that won't go away? Eventually I got inspiration from two books I read in quick succession; that gave me the idea for a dual narrative (think The Hours with two stories instead of three) of women living in different times with parallels in their lives. Finally I managed to write something I felt did justice to the subject. However bad it was, I at least got it out of my system.

Anyway, I finished it last year (first draft anyhow) and put it away. Since then I pretty much made up my mind it wasn't commercial enough, but I recently had to describe it to someone and you know what - it didn't sound half bad. So my next task after this story is finished is to revisit it and see if I can make something of it.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Toilet Books

I'm devoting this post to giving a plug to Stewart Lee's Comedy Vehicle which started this week. (In case you haven't heard of it, it's on Monday nights, BBC2 at 10pm)

I'm a longtime fan of Stewart Lee, going back to "Fist of Fun" and "This Morning With Richard Not Judy" with his long-time writing partner Richard Herring. But he's been away from TV for a while - not surprising, given some of his targets. But if you get the chance to see him perform live and you like dry observational humour he's just what you need.

Anyway here is the link to the BBC iPod of this week's show in which he talks about trashy celebrity books and publishing generally. Very funny.

Monday, 16 March 2009

My Web Site

Did I mention my new website?

It's been up and running a couple of weeks now and I've been amazed how easy it was to set up and maintain. It's a free domain, so it costs me not a penny. The only downside is there are ads on it over which I have no control. But I haven't found them intrusive at all.

The problem I have is I keep going back to tweak it and there's this marvellous thing called Clicky which you get free for a month or something and it tells you all sorts of data about who has visited, what they did, where they linked from etc. Everything except the colour of their underwear (major omission).

So in addition to all the pointless surfing, networking, facebooking and writers boarding I'm webbing too. Where do I find time to write?

Anyway, do visit my new website.

Did I mention I have a new website?

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

How important is attitude?

Another full request last Friday, so I'm back up to 2 "out there". Not to mention all the unsolicited queries and partials that are still pending.

It truly is a rollercoaster ride and no mistake. For a few days after I send the manuscript out there's an emotional high of excitement. With each subsequent rejection that period gets shorter and shorter. But the sting of disappointment proves hope is still alive and well and thriving in my weary breast. (Sorry, attack of the Bard there.)

I see a lot of submission Tales of Woe on my internet trawling. Writers' boards are very sociable places with lots of free advice to offer, but bitterness and negativity can lurk there too. You have to wonder about the effects years of rejection can have on some poor souls. And it can manifest as paranoid delusions about the publishing world being out to get them, or at least out to exclude them. When you've just had a knock-back, it's so easy to buy into that line of thinking. Believe me, I know. But it's futile and ultimately damaging to your long-term goals.

You can end up feeling like the victim in a Them And Us scenario of your own invention. But that doesn't bear scrutiny, when you think about it. Agents need writers for their very livelihood. Publishers ditto. Without the magical stories we weave these people would have nothing to edit, sell and make a mint on.

So don't give in to self-pity. If no one accepts your work, find out what's wrong with it and put it right. It's in no one's interest to knock you back; it's wasteful of everyone's time and energy.

There is no Great Conspiracy.

Except possibly the one your Ego is up to, trying to convince you you are a much greater writer than you really are.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Are you an intrepid explorer?

Lately I've been thinking about first drafts. First drafts of the whole novel, that is. When I started looking into this novel writing lark every authority I consulted said it was best to get the whole book written, warts and all, before going back to revise and edit. And that's more of less what I've done. It's one of the reasons I'm a big fan of NaNoWriMo as I've mentioned in an earlier post.

But I know opinions vary on this. Some writers I've encountered hone and edit each chapter before proceeding to the next. I think that's fine as long as you know what your story is and can stick to it. Some people seem to be able to keep their story in their head, or in outline form, and if it works for them then great.

Personally I can't work that way. Writing a novel is too big a project to keep in my head and outlines have to be sketchy because when I sit down to write the characters take me in all sorts of directions I never expected. And if I kept going back to rewrite I know I'd never get to the end.

Take my current WIP. I know who it's about and have a list of characters. I've worked out their bios, even given them a face thanks to Liquid Story Binder. I know how it starts, have a rough idea what the main plot points are and how it ends. But until I reach the end I can't know for sure how all the threads will work out. So writing the first draft I allow myself to write badly and just keep going until it's finished. I know a lot of it will be changed when I revise so I try not to get hung up on any particular scene. If I can't think how to end a chapter I just abandon it and move on to the next one.

I know from past experience that after it's finished and I've had a little break from it I'll go back to it with Editor's eyes and see the things that need to be fixed. But this part is relatively easy because now I know the story I'm trying to tell. I can write new scenes, discard the rubbish, even introduce or discard characters.

It is fun writing the first draft, but it's also a little scary - like exploring in the jungle; you don't know what you'll find but it's an exciting journey.

Anyway, here's a very interesting article on this from another great website I discovered.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

There are no rules

I hadn't intended to blog today, but I wanted to post a link to this interesting blog.

I find a lot of vitriol about self publishing on the boards I frequent so it makes a change to see a different view from a publishing professional. I have to say I'm not convinced about self-publishing, as I've said vis-a-vis YWO, but none of us knows what the future holds. So have a read. It's food for thought if nothing else.