Friday, June 30, 2006

Expanding

I decided to quit writing yesterday.

As the precious little time I have for writing drew to a close yesterday, all I had to show for it were three sentences. I must have written better than a thousand words over the course of the day, but I kept deleting them because they were crap.

As the realization that I has sweated blood all day only to make no real progress sank in, I thought, "This is ridiculous. I'm going to quit."

I held onto that thought for a while; it gave me a bit of comfort, but only for a while.

My wife and I had dinner and then took a stroll to the park where we sat, she with her book and me with my cigar, enjoying the day. As I contemplated my recalcitrant novel, I realized the reason I was making no progress was that the scene was all wrong. I needed to go back and bring it forward in a new direction. After that, everything fell into place and I began stinging an article together in my mind about how I had planned to quit writing.

Writing about not writing; that's got to be a sure sign that you are an incurable writer.

On other fronts, I'm planning to take a course in article writing and marketing. It all keeps going around in one, big circle:

I started out writing articles, but couldn't sell any because I'm crap at marketing; I wasn't getting rejection letters, I wasn't even able to find markets to send anything to so I could get rejection letters. So I decided to write a book, based on the idea that at least I would have places to send it. Now that I am shopping my humor book around, I am finding I don't have any credentials. I'm not convinced that is the kiss of death, but I can't believe it would hurt. Nor would learning some marketing skills.

So I'm checking out an on-line article 'how-to' course to make sure it is legit and all that. If I don't grow cold on this idea, I'll be starting school with the kids this autumn. I wonder if I'll need a school uniform.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Note To Self

Never stop writing at the end of a chapter.

I managed to put a cap on the chapter I have been struggling with for the past few days, and am now staring at a blank page with 'Chapter Seven' written across the top. Because of the way I restructured and broke up Chapter Six, this will be entirely new; no editing of what is already there.

I'm finding the short (one hour each) bits of time I have not adequate for such a daunting undertaking and would love a chance to sit for about four hours working this out.

Just a few months ago I was struggling to fill 5 hours a week, and now I'm finding that 15 isn't enough.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

It Can Be Done

I just happened upon JT's blog.

She has gone from Level I to Level III in just three postings over 17 months. Her first post was a moan about how difficult writing was, in her second she had an agent but the agent couldn't sell her book so she wrote a second one, and in her last post, she had sold a three book series to a major publishing house.

See, it does happen, and when it does, it happens quick.

Joining the Club

To state the obvious, there are countless communities within the overall blogsphere. There are blog communities about Irish step dancing, cigar smoking, miniature airplane enthusiasts and nudists (I checked). The one I'm concerned with, naturally, is writing.

More specifically, I'm concerned with blogs by writers who are still struggling to finish and sell their first novel. I was hoping to find a bit of camaraderie, inspiration or, at least, commiseration. Oddly enough, there aren't very many.

Upon reflection, this shouldn't have surprised me. Who wants to hang out, even in cyberspace, with a bunch of losers who haven't even sold anything yet?

I call these Level I writing blogs, and no one pays any attention to them (like this one). And why should they? Are you going to glean any nuggets of wisdom from a blog like that? The person may be very talented, and may break upon the publishing scene like a bright comet, or they may be a dedicated person who just doesn't have it and should be taking a night course in gardening instead. But you will never know until and unless they sell a novel.

This is a Level II blog--dedicated writers who have finished a book and found an agent to represent them. If the agent eventually sells a book and they become published, their blog makes it to Level III, the blogs whose authors have sold one or more books and are now mostly concerned with promotion and longevity.

These are the blogs I lurk at. I used to try to join in by commenting on posts occasionally, but no one really took notice, I'm not published, I'm not in their club. And I wouldn't want it any other way.

What good is a club if there isn't an entrance requirement? When I was an Irish dancer and hung out with Irish dancers, we didn't include anyone in our 'club' unless they were, oddly enough, Irish dancers. And just coming to a class didn't get you in, you had to prove your dedication and commitment, join in a few recitals and win a medal or three at an official competition.

The writer's aren't any different. I can say I'm a writer and sit myself down in a circle of published authors, but until I actually have a contract and a book on the shelves at the local Borders, I'm just another wannabe with a dream.

So, I'll keep my Level I blog, looking forward to the day when I can move to Level II and, hopefully, Level III.

Then I'll revisit those blogs and post some more comments.

Man Without a Country

I visited a bookstore yesterday and found it simultaneously inspiring and depressing.

There were so many books; people everywhere, it seems, are publishing books, so it must be possible, there must be a way to achieve this seemingly impossible dream as people do it every day.

There are so many books; many of them good books that I want to read, but they keep coming out faster than I can buy them let along read them. Will you people stop it for crying out loud, and let me catch up?

I suffer from the additional burden of being an American living in England. Many of the great books I want to read are by American authors and I have to buy them on-line. But then there are dozens of books by British authors that I want to read as well. If I was anchored in just one country, I wouldn't have that problem.

And my writing has the same difficulties; is it for an American audience, or a British audience? Where should I try to market it? My Postcards.. book I'm sending to American agents, but the novel, I think, might have a better chance in England. And my articles don't seem to have a market at all. Who wants to read about an American talking about what it's like to live in Britain? The Americans don't care, and the British already know. Even the Bill Bryson-type slant and humor I inject into the pieces doesn't seem to help: he was a long-time resident and had worked on many British newspapers; I'm simply an interloper without the credentials for commenting on the British way of life.

I've tried to overcome the national ambiguity problem in my novel by having it set in Britain with an American heroine. Maybe it wall work, or maybe I'll be trying again with another novel set totally in one country or another.

Blog? What Blog?

Oh yeah, I have a blog.

I seem to have forgotten that for a while; I was too busy writing, and updating my REAL website, and reminding myself that no one reads this anyway so it doesn't really matter. But here I am again, sneaking in a few updates at once.

You might ask yourself (or, more to the point, I might ask myself) "Why does a guy with a private journal, continually updated website and a novel on the go need a blog anyway?" The answer, of course, is: he doesn't. This blog has been little more than an afterthought since I started it, something I have to remind myself to update, and a place I found I had nothing to say (can you believe that?). This was supposed to be about my journey toward publication but I didn't feel that journey was worth talking about much.

That seems to be changing now as writing is beginning to take up more and more of my life. I've managed to increase my daily productivity by over 100% and, more and more, my day revolves around writing. I even started jogging in the mornings, not because I'm out of shape and need to get fit (which I do, but that's another story) but because I felt it would help get my brain working and make me less tired. And it has.

Now I get up at 5 AM instead of lying there for 20 minutes thinking about getting. My 'run' only last 15 minutes, just enough time to get out and get the blood pumping, then I get ready for work and sit down at my computer with a cup of coffee by 5:45, or at least 6:00 ready to get on with it.

Where I really make up time, however, is on the bus ride home. I am no long so tired I can't do something productive. Even if I don't feel up to writing, I can always read my writing books.

So things are moving now and, even though I can't see any progress in the shape of a published book, progress is being made, and each day is one step closer instead of one more day of marking time.

And that's exciting, and worth writing about (besides, this helps me keep the momentum going).

I just wish blogger would allowed me to back-date some of these posts so it would look like I've been consistent with my updates instead of doing it all at once, but I can see why they don't; otherwise, people could post predictions after the event and pass themselves off as the new Yuri Geller.