Wednesday, May 10, 2006
Rainy and cool
Part IV of the Exercise is up at the Scruffy Dog Review Blog.
Today’s Circadian Poem: “Bitter/Sweet” by Wren Fallon.
Work was fine yesterday. Chatted and caught up with some people I hadn’t seen in awhile.
Worked on Real on the train. Not as many pages as I wanted, but I was barely coherent when I came home. I don’t know if there’s a lack of oxygen in the building or what, but four hours of day work can wipe me out more than twelve hours on set. And it’s not that demanding. I don’t get it.
Anyway, I wrote a few pages, including an insert to a previous scene – and just, as I’m typing, I remember another insert I need to add, when they shoot the scene riding over the Scottish countryside for the film within the book. Also, a new character, Cordelia, snuck into the book and, according to the protagonist, she’ll be around for awhile. It took me awhile to figure out her purpose, but I now realize that she and another young female character are going to be the contrast/comparison of constructive ambition versus destructive ambition, and how the protagonist deals with it.
I have a couple of errands to run in the morning, a stack of letters and resumes to shoot out, but I hope that the bulk of the day will be spent on Real. I re-figured how much I need to write each day to meet my ambitious goal – not sure I can hit it by the end of next week. I may, as originally suspected, need until the end of the month to finish the first draft. But, then I’ll be in good shape whether we go to contract or not. If we go to contract, I can do another draft quickly and work on something else while I wait for comments; if we don’t, I can keep working on it until I feel it’s ready to go out. As I mentioned a few days ago, I have a kick-ass cover letter for it.
I’ve fretted over the name to use for it. It’s different that the other pieces I’ve worked on – while it’s basically adult contemporary fiction, it could also be shelved, possibly, in romance (although it’s more about the growing relationship between the two main characters rather than the romance novel formula). It’s not the bright, funny voice of Ava Dunne; it’s not the more serious tone of Christy Miller; it’s not domestic enough for Christiane Van de Velde. It’s not otherworldly enough for Cerridwen Iris Shea. It’s inappropriate for the two YA names I’m juggling. It’s not really along the lines of what I consider the tone of the Devon Ellington work.
But do I really want to create yet another name? I don’t want to get too fractured. I don’t want to spread out too much. I’m experimenting here, and will probably not do another piece in this tone, unless I choose to revisit these characters sometime in the future. I’m looking at this pretty much as a one-off. And isn’t part of being a writer stretching and trying new things? If you look at Virginia Woolf’s body of work, she reinvented the wheel from scratch just about every time. Now, I am certainly no Virginia Woolf, but I like the idea of different types of work. And the Devon Ellington name encompasses several different types – mystery, historical, non-fiction, sports, humor.
And then I remembered The Fix-It Girl, which is waiting in the wings, wondering when I’ll ever get back to it. When I left Mavis and Arnie, they were on their way to New York, Mavis having quit her studio job in LA to strike out on her own. Yes, it’s set in the 1930s. But it’s still a behind-the-scenes look at the entertainment industry. The tone of that book is very different from this one, but it is also different from everything else. However, the backdrop of entertainment might be enough of a connection to convince the uncreative marketing decision makers to mention both in the same breath.
I don’t think the audience will care much under which name it appears. For instance, I spoke to an acquaintance of mine in the hockey realm, fretting about using the same name from this book as I’m using on the four hockey novels. He thought about it and said, “I don’t really notice the name of the writer. I pick up a book if it looks interesting or if someone I know tells me it’s good. Or if you write it. I know you use a bunch of names, so whatever you write, just tell me what it is and I’ll go get it.”
He’s got a point.
I also appreciate that he wants to buy my books so that he contributes to my income. His position is that, “Hey, you contribute to my salary by coming to games. Why shouldn’t I do the same by buying your books?”
How do I pick books?
I have a list of authors whose work I’ve read over the years; whenever I hear of a new book, I go out and get it. I buy/read the work of friends and colleagues.
Plus, I do a lot of browsing. And, when I’m browsing, I don’t go by the author name. I go by the title – does it sound interesting? Or the cover. Although, I have to say, a cover I don’t like is more likely to turn me off a book than on to it. And then, I pick up the book, read a bit about it, skip the blurbs (I HATE blurbs. I’m more likely to put a book back if there’s a blurb by a writer I don’t like on it), and open it to read a few paragraphs.
Of course, the problem with browsing in a bookstore is that I always walk out with more than just one book.
Speaking of books, I’m reading a fascinating novel by Caleb Carr called The Italian Secretary. Holmes and Watson and Mycroft Holmes are the main characters, and it takes place in Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh. I loved Carr’s novel The Alienist and read it back to back with EL Doctrow’s novel in the same time period, The Waterworks (I highly recommend reading these two novels together – I read them in one day apiece). This novel is fascinating. I don’t want to get into it too much, but I read it until I fell asleep last night out of sheer exhaustion, and am hiding it from myself today until I get my writing quota done.