Saturday, January 21, 2006
Partly sunny and mild
Yesterday was pretty busy. Worked on a newsletter, researched some new markets, updated the submissions log, worked on the new text for the DE site. The more I work on it, the more I want to change the content substantially. Did four loads of laundry at a friend’s place, caught up on The New Yorker and The New York Times Book Review.
Worked on the revisions for Chapters 13-15 of Clear the Slot. Made some cuts, debated some others and found the chapter end in the middle of 14 so I can turn three chapters into two. Evening out the chapter length, in this particular project, helps the rhythm.
Adapting Glamorous Hearts into a novel will be interesting, because I realized that the best way to tackle it is to yet approach it in a completely different way than I usually approach drafts. Usually, I need to go all the way through a draft, getting a picture of it as a whole, and then go back and edit, working through each draft. With this piece, I’m going to end up doing at least three drafts of each chapter before I move on to the next one. And then, when I have the overall draft, I can go back and work on it as a whole. But, the first draft of each chapter is adapting the dialogue into prose. The second is adding in the descriptive detail. The third is cutting some of each so that there’s a balance and the chapter has a good flow. Only then will I be able to build the next chapter. There’s already an agent interested – it came up in casual conversation and I warned this person that it was no where near ready. I didn’t want to break my own rule and try to sell something that wasn’t finished and blow the contact!
I also realized Life With Aunt Dot needs to be restructured. Originally, I planned to have a prologue of three quick scenes letting the reader in on the initial conflicts and then bring it all together. Now, I’ve realized I need to develop each thread independently for about twenty pages or so and then bring all the pieces together. By the time I reach the 7th-Draft-Fit-For-Submission, it may be back down to three quick scenes in a Prologue, but to get there effectively, I have to write it all out and then cut.
I’m reading a book on non-fiction proposals, because the projects called Non-Fiction A & B last year are close to ready to pitch, and I wanted to remind myself of all the bits to include. Non-Fiction A is substantially different from the “normal” nonfiction book, so I have to adapt some of the bits, but the note about removing all qualitative words from the proposal or cover letter (“perhaps”, “estimated”, “approximately”) hit home.
Unfortunately, many of the examples of “good” proposals reminded me of used car salesmen and made me want to gag. If I read a proposal like that, or picked up a book and read that on the back cover, I’d run for the hills! I certainly wouldn’t pick it up and pay money for it!
Which is why I’m not in the business of being an agent.
Personally, I loathe this trend pushing authors to “brand”. I don’t want to buy a “brand”. I want to buy an individual’s book, and I want to watch that individual grow and change with every book. I don’t want the name and location changed with the universal replace feature on the computer. The only thing I want to know I’m getting is good writing. I think it dumbs down both the author and condescends to the reader to “brand”. I stop buying and reading an author's books when said author just retreads the same territory in each book.
Can you imagine what would have happened if Virginia Woolf tried to sell her work today? She was so brilliant and reached for something new and different in every book.
Perhaps publishing hasn’t changed that much. After all, she and Leonard Woolf did start Hogarth Press.
Lots to do today, so I better get started. I could feel Shallid and the Fantasy Epic burbling last night, and I purposely did not allow myself to do any work on them, so I could attack the page vigorously today.