Tag Archives: novel

The Novelist’s Due – #1

EPISODE 1: Let the games begin

It’s great. It sucks.
It’s great. It sucks.
It’s great. It sucks.
It’s great. It sucks.

This is the dreary madness that consumes your brain when the flow of words halts and the day’s writing session is done. This refrain alternates with the intermittent ponderance Why in the hell am I doing this?, which tends to intrude upon the stream of consciousness just after a comma throws up a roadblock in the middle of a strenuous compound sentence.

When you hit that magical milestone, however, which I did on February 15, the one in which you optimistically declare I’m finished!, you are allowed to take one breath. Two, if you were holding your breath during those last, countless revisions of your final sentence.

manuscript in edit mode

manuscript in edit mode

First Step: Feedback

One fantasizes one can simply toss a manuscript over the fence to an agent or publisher like a stray rock from somebody else’s yard. Perhaps if one is John Grisham. The more appropriate reality is that you have to get people to read your magnificent manuscript before you even begin thinking of heading down the publishing path.

That, at least, was the advice of a young red-headed agent I encountered at Litquake 2007: “Make sure you put the best possible manuscript in front of a publisher,” was her sage advice.

She suggested writing groups. I am pursuing friends.

Fortunately I have friends who are eager for me to send them the manuscript. Twelve pages into it, we’ll see if their enthusiasm wanes. We’ll see how many dinner invitations are rescinded, how many emails unanswered, how many uncomfortable phone calls endured.

I’m kidding of course. My friends are wonderful. The lingering worry is What if my manuscript is not? The ridiculous courage it takes to get from Page One to The End (please…don’t ever actually type that at the end of your manuscript) stands on shaky legs when the ream of printed paper is staring you in the face begging, Send me…Send me…

All in the name of fiction. What a madness.

The Novelist’s Due – #0

EPISODE 0: The Scourge of the Writing Class

40 pages to go on the first draft of the novel…It sounds like a lot but it’s really not, as long as the A to Z regimen (Ativan-Zoloft) holds out and I don’t have to make a co-pay on the next round of refills. (Kidding of course on the alphabet; it’s actually Albariño-Zinfandel….)

Cash is in limited supply these days, so much so I’ve taken to hoarding, which should make Suze Orman happy. Fortunately I haven’t had to resort to scouring the folds of sofas and rifling through dirty laundry for loose change like I used to do when I first arrived in this Gomorrah of a place. Fig newtons and the occasional indulgent latte from Tully’s will suffice for now.

...work in progress...

...work in progress...

Self-Inflicted Wounds and Sustenance..

I write not because I enjoy it but because I have to. When writing is in your blood it’s inescapable. It’s as urgent as the lust to hurl oneself from an airplane without a parachute in order to fly, and probably about as sensible.

If I were to classify my current novel, I suppose it would fall under the category of literary fiction. Decades ago I tried writing Harlequin romances and assorted cheap smut for a buck but my heart wasn’t into it and so I chose the proverbial high road. (I must have been high.) This current novel is good. Contrast that with the first one, which I finished 12 years ago. It is unpublished and will forever remain that way: when I’ve mined all the good lines I’ll burn the manuscript.

Like heroin. Without the high..

In publishing terms, to say that this one is good means that probably only twelve people will buy it and six will read it all the way through—not counting myself, my agent, the editor and one demented critic.

Nevertheless I remain hopeful that my pessimism will be repudiated. After all, without hope we are all just minions of the Church, the Market and the State, lugging their nefarious burdens on our backs while the red-robed descendants of Jesus dance in arcane circles and the politicians and marketeers applaud their clever means .


source: http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/photos/portfolios/david_ryan?pg=3

Strange place, this..

Things are vastly better now, 20 years later than when I landed in Sodom by the Sea. Measurably different. So much so, to paraphrase Hugo, that “the past is like somebody else’s memories.”

Life has become an exponential variation on itself; it is much and more than it ever used to be, somehow meeting its hidden promises but still managing to surprise at every turn. The surprise is part of the sustenance—it feeds the hungry. That counts for a lot in these days of exponentially diminishing returns.

Here, a glimpse of the life-giving scourge:

the book

the first 211 pages, hauled back from Hawaii in multi-color print because the black ink cartridge ran out