Monthly Archives: June 2010

I’m not the only one!

I registered for this contest but never got around to entering it. It was pretty well put together, though, and I would have liked to have been more on the ball for it. (One problem is that, as a contractor, I tend to change employers frequently, and I tend to write during the workday, so working at the same coffee shop for more than a few months at a time is a rarity.)

But in any case, the winner is Ranjini George Philip, and she works in a coffee shop in Clarkson — right near me! And she says:

I’ve been a coffee shop writer for a long time… There’s a lot of solitude and I find I work better when there is a buzz of noise around me.

Well, that makes at least two of us. Anyhow, I’m off to check this place out. And maybe… do some writing.

How I Landed an Agent (part 5)

It took about two months.

I got an e-mail from Carolyn’s assistant sometime in April, saying that Carolyn was still looking at the manuscript but would get back to me about it soon. She was going away for the next week and would contact me when she got back.

I was pretty sure at this point that it was in the bag. If not, why wouldn’t she just say no? But I was also pretty sure that, if she was taking this long, it must be positive — sure, she’d probably have things she’d want me to change,

It took another long, tense week or two before she finally e-mailed me with the verdict.

First, she thought the second half of the book really “galloped along” — which was great to hear! I was happy with how I’d worked the pace of the second half, and thought it was pretty good myself.

Second, she enjoyed the experience of “reading what seemed to be a ‘book’ rather than a ms with potential.” HUGE praise — I think the highest compliment I’ve received for my writing.

And finally, if I was “willing to take a chance,” she would send me an agency agreement.

Er, yes, I do believe I will take that chance!

From thereon things went just fine. I’ve started (and nearly finished) the sequel, and Carolyn has started to try to sell this little series I’ve got going. Everyone seems to be happy with the whole arrangement — and of course we’ll all be happier when the book, or the series, gets sold.

I’ll follow up soon with a bit on what I think this whole experience has taught me.

Finding More Time

Yesterday I restarted my time-honoured tradition of sneaking away from work to do some writing. I remembered to bring my lunch for once, and around 1 pm I snuck away for my “lunch” hour. There’s a nice Second Cup only 5 minutes’ walk away, and it’s not very busy at all. I got over 600 words written in the hour I had.

The writing is going remarkably well at this point, partly because I’m starting to move into the fast-paced part of the book, and partly because I sat and chatted with an uncle on Sunday about my family’s own sordid past — bootlegging, bookmaking, and so on. Lots of material there to use, but it probably won’t be till next book that I start to use it.

The inspiration is useful but what was really interesting was writing a conversation between the main character and the antagonist for the novel. At this point, the main character has figured out that the bad guy is the cause of all his troubles, and he’s confronting him about it for the first time. I modelled their conversation on one I had with a former business associate, after I found out that he had been playing unfairly with me for the couple of years I worked for him. (He’s outright cheated other people who work for him, which is much worse, but I didn’t get into that; I stuck to my own personal complaints.)

For me, the interesting side of it was that I got to go over what was a very difficult conversation in great detail, and think about what both of us said and how it affected me. This isn’t something you get to do very often, in real life. Even when you retell the story with others, you abbreviate and summarize and concentrate on a very small number of things that were actually said. The fun with rewriting the conversation was that I got to concentrate on my own feelings at the time, as well as figure out the other guy’s motivations from line to line as well (though I didn’t explicitly state those).

The trick is to remain balanced. Although I clearly had a preference for who was right in the real life conversation I had, if I made it clear that the main character was right and the evil guy was wrong, then it would have been boring. I had to ensure that every assertion the main character made had some doubt attached to it, and everything the evil guy said had some kind of truth attached to it. I knew that the truth would come out eventually, and had to trust the reader to accept the ambiguity for now.

So an enjoyable scene to write, and, I think, an effective scene in the book. There’s a follow-up scene coming soon, too, and I’m really looking forward to that one.

Note: I actually writing started this post four or five days ago; stopped when I had a minor computer crash; and then didn’t get back to it for days. Apparently I need to make even more time…

Finding the Time

Well, my habit of near-daily posting ended with my unemployment. I guess that’s the price one pays for solvency. I’m hoping that I can start to write during lunch breaks again when the job settles down a little, as I did before. And I will definitely need to make use of evenings and weekends as much as I can in the meantime.

I’ve also been thinking of working on breaking my writing habits. I will be experimenting — can I write in the dining room if I close all the doors and ignore any dog, phone, and electronic interruptions? Will music on the stereo help? Should I brew a pot of decaf for that sbux experience? We shall see.

The last few nights have all been write-offs, though. I haven’t been sleeping well and I’ve been coming home from work exhausted as a result. I hope to reverse that trend soon as well.

The big question is, where does the time go? I’m not spending hours in front of the TV, and the xBox has sat lonely and unplayed. The answer is that my productive time has been squandered mostly on things like the web, and casual games.

There’s something insidious about the PopCap model of gaming. If I fire up the xBox, I’m committing to a solid half-hour, at least, of gaming time. But if I sit down at the laptop, I cam deceive myself. I’ll just get a decent score for the week in Bejeweled Blitz. I’ll just check up on the non-word-heavy blogs in my reader. I’ll just… fritter the evening away, in the end.

So with the horror of paid work taking up a considerable block of time each day, I will need to spend my time more wisely. A moratorium, if I can, on all the little casual things I waste hours’ worth of minutes on. More time cooking and cleaning, and as a reward, a little writing too.

And maybe the xBox will get a little attention, too. Poor thing is just forlorn nowadays…