Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Got Nano?

November is National Novel Writing Month. It's a worldwide whirlwind of insanity, wherein you must write a 50,000 word story in 30 days, start to finish. If you think that's easy . . . I dare you to try it.

Sure, for me, writing something of extreme length is a non-issue. I do that all the time. I write novels, after all. But doing that in 30 days? Even I think I'm an idiot.

What do you win when you finish, you ask?

Well . . . a cute little plaque to put on your web page, and the respect of your fellow Nanoers. And the envy of any writer who's never broken the 20,000 word barrier.

Yep, that's about it.

But there are perks. You get: Insomnia, Nervous Twitches, Headaches, Aching Fingers, Burning Eyes, and you either gain 20 pounds from all the chocolate, or lose 20 pounds from all the involuntary muscle spasms.

Either way, it's pretty much a win-win!

So, what might I be doing, you ask?

Well . . . here's the thing. I have this story waiting for edits, to be sent around in the hopes of winning an agent. I have a few more sitting around, waiting for the same process. I have another that just started, but my brain is having spasms, so that's going on hold. And, at the same time as Nano, have to finish a short (2,000 word) for a contest.

But for Nano, I'm going to revisit Alex and Evan.

My fans know what that means - another Alex and Evan for the web page. I couldn't take it any more. I cracked. I had every intention of writing this super serial killer story, mainstream thriller, intended for commercial publication. But my brain kept stammering up against this blockade, and nothing I could do was breaking it free.

Those of you familiar with the publishing world, understand how near-impossible it is to actually break in, write something spectacular, win an agent, then get a publisher. We all stand a better chance of being struck by a toilet falling from the International Space Station while a shark is nibbling on our leg and lightning is striking all around, then we do of getting through the writing, querying and acceptance maze.

One day I feel like I'm gonna make it. The next day, I realize there's no way in hell, and I can hear that toilet falling from above. A day or two later, I figure I have as good a chance as anyone. Then the clouds roll in and I find myself wading in the ocean.

Okay, I'd offer cheese to go with all this whine, but I'm lactose intolerant.

Sitting here, thinking very hard on each and every word in that "will this win me an agent" way, only served to keep me sitting here thinking - not writing.

I came to a conclusion the other day that has finally put a smile back on my face, and made me giddy about writing again. I've been taking it all way too seriously lately, and it stopped being fun.

I've met a lot of people this year who are brilliant writers. Very witty, intelligent and amazing people who can write circles around all the drek we find in the bookstores. The problem is they're not getting anywhere. I won't go into boring detail, but see my comparison above re: the shark and the toilet and you'll get an idea.

These people continue to plug away, but the fact that their work isn't being read by anyone, anywhere, is slowly and surely eating away at their writing souls. All they crave is an audience. All they hope for is that some day, someone will read their stories and love them. And they deserve it ! They really are brilliant writers - but for many ridiculous reasons, they're not getting published (at least not yet). It's a game of patience, luck, skill, ridiculous luck, patience, stupid luck, timing, patience and ABSURD LUCK! Now and again, one of them strikes the motherlode, and wins an agent -- only to wait years and find out that agent can't sell the story to a publisher.

Don't get me wrong -- I've also met writers who HAVE made it. They ARE published now and can be found on the shelves of your local bookstores everywhere.

It's not impossible -- just highly unlikely :)

For those of us who have day jobs, and write for pleasure -- that's all we want. Sure, the little (and I mean little) extra cash and the pride that goes along with it would be welcomed with open arms and a glad heart. But I see those who have been trying for so long, and they're close to giving up. I see those who crave only an audience, who simply want their "children" to be seen by others, giving up on ever being known.

And, frankly, I spent an hour at Barnes & Noble the other day and couldn't find a single thing that interested me beyond page 1. That's no ego talking, just personaly taste. I write what I want to read, because I can rarely ever find it anywhere. I find myself reading non fiction almost exclusively.

I've been feel guilty, and a little stupid, and more than a bit humbled because I do have an audience. I have fans, I have a base of readers, and I have stories to write that give me great pleasure.

What does this mean?

Basically, that I'm grateful for what I have, while still envious of what I don't. It means I'm going to continue to try and write for commercial publication. I have one ready, one and in the works. But it also means I'm going to continue to write for the web page.

I've spent the last 8 months learning what is and isn't true about publishing, and the truth is more bizarre than the fiction it produces! Talk to enough published writers, read enough Agent's blogs and Publishers advice, and you, too, can have scrambled brains for breakfast !

Oh, and rest assured -- with my fickle hormones, this could all change in a week ! But for Nano - it's gonna be a brand spakin' new Alex and Evan story.

So now that this blog post has gone from Nano to Nuthin', in sixty seconds or less, I'll try to recap.

Feeling lucky? Got Pen? Sign up now, join the Nano -- and abandon all hope !!!

Oh, and if you see my brains lying around anywhere, please mail them back. I'll pay for postage :)

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Simplify, simplifly, semper-fi!

I saw a commercial yesterday afternoon that made me want to throw away every electronic device I own, cancel my satellite TV, my cell phone service, and sell my computers, then learn to knit for entertainment.

Okay, sure, I do have other entertainment. I cut, shape and polish agates and gems, for one. I read, I write - neither of which requires technology. And my sister and I love an evening spent at our Mother's house, playing cards with her and her husband.

But really -- There was this commercial about some electronic gadgetry, or the future of possibilities, or maybe it was soap, but it was going on and on with these images of people all over the globe, in all cultures and countries, using all manner of computerized consumer products to email, web-surf, phone, fax, scan, and even track "friends". There was one image with some words that conveyed the opinion that, in the not too distant future, you can "subscribe" to your friends and look up their exact planetary location at any given time.

Does this disturb anyone else?

Not only that particular trick, but this entire trend of always on, instantly connected, always aware?


Seriously, it's getting to me. Yes, I own a cell phone, but you'll have to trust me when I say I only own it and only use it for emergencies. It's a security blanket for a single woman in this crazy world, who drives a 50 mile round trip commute daily. I swear the only time it's an indulgence for me is when my sister and I are out and about and decide we should phone Applebees for a carside dinner to go.

Yes, I have satellite TV. Yes, I even have cable internet. And okay, twist my arm and you'll notice I use a DVR to record programs automatically (look, ma, no vcr).

But suddenly, as I'm watching that commercial, it all felt very suffocating. I do mock people who have the Internet on their cell phones. Those self-important types who feel the need to check email while sitting at their son's school play. The guy watching a movie on his laptop, his cell phone and his FREAKISHLY HUGE hdtv, all during his supposed train commute to work.

I read somewhere that 80 percent of all cell phone calls people take in public are faked. That they're just pretending, in order to look cool. You know why I keep my cell phone on while I'm in public? Because it shows me the time. I don't wear a watch.

I don't disparage all electronics, because clearly I use and enjoy them. They have a place, they have a time, and they have a purpose.

But dear GOD, do we seriously need -- or deserve -- to know where our friends are at all times? Is it vitally necessary that we have access to our SPAM while we're waiting for our latte? Can we not go five minutes between Instant Messaging during dinner at a nice restaurant?

I was going to avoid any mention of: Back in MY day -- but . . .

It was just ten years ago when cell phones began to be interesting to the average Joe. A mere 15 years ago, most people didn't have a PC, satellite TV was a gigantic dish that took up your entire backyard and screamed your affluence to your neighbors.

It wasn't that long ago when we could drive down the freeway and only have to worry about people shaving or applying mascara. When pay phones were considered a necessary item on every block, just in case you had an emergency.

Not long ago, we didn’t have MP3 players insulating us from the outside world. Back then, we'd act a bit more polite to the other people in line, because we could hear and see them. We wouldn't dash across the street in traffic as if we were the only humans on the planet, because we could hear the car engines coming up from behind. I remember a time when we could walk down a sidewalk, see people coming and make room for them. Even smile as they passed.

And sure, this sounds really ridiculous coming from the mouth of someone who enjoys writing Science Fiction with futuristic settings.

But does the future really have to be so . . . annoying? Doesn't it feel sometimes like, if they invent one more thing that isolates us from the humans around us, we're all gonna forget what life is really like?

Yeah, sure, it's an exaggeration. I'm being ridiculous, overreacting and blathering at the mouth. That commercial just brought me to the brink, is all. It's just odd how these products designed to "bring people closer" are really there to isolate everyone.

Like they want to bring us all closer, but only in a virtual manner.

Okay, enough rambling. Consider this just a: Unplug that thing and go outside! Rant, 'cause that's all it really amounts to.

Now, let's just scroll back down to my post about MEN and relax, shall we?