Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Perks? You Mean There are Perks?

Crazy stuff you get to do when you are are a writer:

1. Spend hours in a library or bookstore and call it research.*
2. Write page upon page of a story, then delete it and pronounce your day productive.*
3. Horde dictionaries.*
4. Be critical of other people's use of words ending in -ly.*
5. Laugh at the stupidity of free writing. Then free write some more.*
6. Discover other writers crazier than you are.*
7. Write about subjects you don't know a thing about, including God, whom you think is laughing at you.*
8. Blow off criticism.*
9. Be thankful for every criticism because you'll likely bend to it later.*
10. Drink three French presses before noon, then break into the beer since no one cares, and you're in your pajamas anyway.*

*my favorites

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Amusing Ourselves into Decline

Although my first novel is a romance (which may surprise those of you who know me), bigger issues preoccupy me more often than not. I may be writing escapist entertainment, but my conscience zeros in on issues of social justice, politics and culture. An article recently in the Sunday NYT affected me. The Elusive Big Idea describes the decline of "thinking." We don't want to think about much of anything. The author, Neil Gabler, a big thinker himself, blames in part the unprecedented amount of information available to us that pushes out all the important ideas. We happily (for the most part) ride this info glut and look for the cheap thrill. We find new gadgets or games or Lindsey Lohans to distract us. I find Twitter is a huge, useless distraction. What we don't care about are big ideas that shape our lives (movements and cultural shifts and science). We may indeed be amusing ourselves to death (ever heard of Neil Postman?), and I believe we are at the very least amusing ourselves into decline.

But besides the info glut, we do it by consuming, too. Fewer are able to spend with much gusto in this economy, but consumerism pushes us to work more to maintain our hard-earned leisure time and the stuff that fills it. I do it, too. I love to eat out and buy books and rent movies and drink wine and have a barista make me a coffee once and a while. Yours may be shoes or hot rods. Feeling like we need the new SmartPhone also puts a burden on us to work harder and skip or skim over the rest, and I mean here, the world. Who actually likes bad news? Paradigm shifts? Politicians? Sure, if they are your brother- or sister-in-law. Otherwise, tuning them out is just fine. Same with people with big ideas. The majority would say: "Sorry, Mr. Gabler. Nice ideas, but let me get back to my xBox." It's easy to relax with WiFi. Recharge the old iPad. Open up Facebook. Fire up the Kindle. And, while they're at it, read a romance.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Pitching? No Problem

Wondering how to get your book "out there"? Try this.

Go to a conference. Spend 30 bucks. Sign up with a bunch of strangers to talk to an agent in a windowless room. Show up way too early for appointment. Sweat. Get called in like at the dentist. Find a seat next to the six strangers. Sweat some more, look hungry around a banquet table with a really bad tablecloth. Hmm, hungry is not the right word. Desperate, or maybe, pathetic.

Agent, who could be old, young, man, woman, introduces the egg timer. Announces the process. Flips the timer for three minutes and points to first writer. You may not be able to hear what the writer is saying because he/she is nervous, too, and aren't speaking up, but it goes something like, "I've written a 75-thousand word .... " or "<Title of book> is about ... ". All the while you are trying to determine what the hell you are going to say. Although you've practiced, right? Of course, you've practiced.

Within a minute or less, the agent will have: 1) asked you a question you didn't expect; 2) told you he/she does/doesn't want your sample chapters and, maybe, why, or 3) listened and said nothing. All of which make you sweat more. Someone tries to make a joke between pitches. You try not to crawl under the bad table cloth or jump out of your seat when you are done and run out. Turn over.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Give Writing a Name

Being a writer is part social commentator, philanderer, fool, catatonic state, mistaken identity, sorcerer, troublemaker, trash talker, kingdom builder, diva-licious, lunatic, calamity, wall flower, dike thumber, ditch digger, doppelganger, rambler, rolling pin, Slim Jim, Janis Joplin, juggernaut, jumper and jackass. I try to write something that pushes me every day. God save me.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Women Who Should

Wing it and worry about the looks later.
Glenn Beck doesn't think
before he opens his mouth
and gets millions stuffed in,
spewing incongruent thoughts
and hate and absurdities.
TV makes Gods infallible.
Women, move up.
Take control of your voice
and your lovely turncoats
before the takeover begins.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Seriousness Factor? Check.

Don't take my absence from posting as a lapse in seriousness. I take this blog not as a means to an end. Hell, it's not a means to anything. It is a diary, an open book one. Sure, I'm editing out the hardcore life. Can't spread it all out there, but I am serious about writing, and I am taking the steps I need to make publication happen. This blog doesn't happen to be one of the ways I believe will get me there in the end. So I come here and vent and jockey around a little for kicks.

I have been on hiatus because of two reasons: the big one, a cross country move. I am no longer avlwriter (Twitter), just jmfwriter. The m stands for May. I live in Portland, Ore., now. The second one, my book has been with an agent on an exclusvie basis for the last seven or so weeks, and I've been taking the off time to pack/move/unpack and bullet out some ideas for the next manuscript. And read. Another writing project I was working on is on ice.

But I have heard from the agent, and I will be making a third round of revisions and sending it back out for a second read. I continue to query. I've missed the writing. It's time to get back to it, throttle ahead.