Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Is the short fiction market in trouble?

Is the short fiction market in trouble? That's the question posed in the article. SF Signal asked that of authors and printed their take on the matter. Some of them I agree with and some oe them just seem to be out there. What do you think?

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

On the verge of greatness

No I'm not saying I just signed a six figure deal for my first book. Although that would be great. I'm talking about that feeling you get that you need to sit down and write right now. You know that if you do it's not only going to be good whatever you write is going to be great.

But before you do you decide to get yourself something to drink. You wouldn't want to interrupt the brilliant flow of words by a parched mouth. But by the time you pull a glass out, pull the milk out, fill the glass and put the milk away you get the feeling that something is missing and your writing just won't be right until you figure that out. But what could be missing? You stare at the glass of milk and then it dawns on you. What goes the best with cold milk? Oreos. After rummaging around in either the cookie jar or the pantry you finally find the Oreos and head off towards your writing space.

But once you get there you realize you don't want cookie crumbs falling into the keyboard so that when you want to type girl all you can type is gi l. So you pack everything back up and go sit at the kitchen table. You sip your milk, dunk your Oreos and you think.

You think about what you're going to do with your characters or the plot or the setting. But you also start to think about how you're going to do that pile of laundry in the corner while trying to cut your electric bill down. You don't want to think about the laundry, you want to think about the story you're about to write. But you have to think about the laundry because you don't think going into work tomorrow half naked is going to compile with the dress code. Once you tell yourself that you'll get up and start a load of laundry before you write to avoid any disciplinary actions at work you start thinking about the bathroom sink that is still slow to drain even though you've used a whole bottle of Plumper on it. Or the fact that you haven't done your taxes yet and you wonder if you're going to get anything back and what you'll spend it on.

Next thing you know you either out of milk or Oreos and you've got a whole list of things you need to do. Do you do everything now or do you sit down to write? When you think about it you realize the moment has past. Everything you would have written if you had put your put in the chair when you first got that feeling would have been good. Anything you write now is going to be terrible. Your hearts not in it because your mind is working on other things. You were on the verge of greatness but now it's past.

I don't know how to get past this other than not fixing a glass of milk before I write. But if it's not the milk and Oreos it'll be something else. Like laundry or taxes. Something small that you think you can do before you sit down to write and yet still have that feeling that's telling you to write right now. And sometimes that feeling comes when you can't do anything about it. Like at work. Or driving.

I know a writer should be able to write in any circumstance or condition and not just when the urge to write comes on. And I'm trying to do that. But it's hard. Especially when you feel the universe aligns into perfect writing conditions and don't want to be unprepared when your throat gets dry. It's a good intention to grab a glass of milk. It just doesn't always have the best results in the end. So if you ever find yourself on the verge of greatness just sit down and write. You'll be so caught up in the flow of writing you probably won't even notice your throat is dry unless you try answer the phone. But you wouldn't do that now, would you?

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

I can't read as a kid any more

I finished reading Everlost yesterday and while I liked it I had some misgivings about it as well. I don't think those misgivings are anything inherent in the book itself. I think they're more from inside me.

Everlost is a children's book. But I hate to call it that. Whenever I think of "children's books" I think of Dr. Seuss and little snot nosed kids running around a playground. Everlost if for those older kids that no longer play on the playground, but aren't old enough to get a license to drive. The protagonists are 14 or 15 years old and since they usually say your protagonists should be 1-2 years older than your target audience you can figure out who this book is for. Needless to say I'm not in their target audience. And I'm starting to feel it too.

When I was about that age I remember reading a book called From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basile E. Frankweiler. I loved it. I connected with that book so much that I wanted to run away and live in a museum. The book resonated with me, but at the time all I knew was that if I was stranded on a desert island and could only have one book with me I wanted this one. Everlost should have been the same thing.

I really enjoyed it and loved all the little references and jokes thrown in. Kind of like finding Easter Eggs in movies. But as much as I wanted to connect with the book like I had the Mixed-Up Files book I just couldn't. I was too old. I've seen to much of life to be wholly and completely engrossed in the book. I've seen too much of the world for the destruction of the Twin Towers to have a different impact on me than it would someone younger reading this book.

I felt like I was standing outside the entrance to a fun park and I wasn't allowed in. Why? Because I was too tall. I could only stand there and look at all the rides whirling in the air and see that the gate to each ride was shorter than I was. Instead of that "you must be this tall to ride this read" sign there were "you must be this short to ride this ride". Anyone can be young at heart and enjoy a fun park but how do you become shorter? Has the world made me a cynical person that I can't even recall what it felt like to be young and a little bit naive to the workings of the world? Have I completely lost that carefreeness that you only see in the children who haven't reached that age of responsibility when childhood ends and the read of your life begins?

Everlost is a book that had I read it in my "tween" years it would have had a profound effect on me. Reading it today it doesn't have the same effect. That doesn't mean I didn't enjoy reading it. It just means that I feel I missed out on getting that little something extra from having read it. There are a lot of times when I'm glad I'm not a kid any more. But this was one time I wished I could have been and read this book with the wide-eyed wonder and excited of someone who's world is just starting to open up for them.