it's the lack of sleep.
I'll see you Sunday or Monday. In the meantime, hopefully some winks, taxes being done (and coming out refund-nice), continued improvement on the George front. Mostly, sleep. Sleep and taxes. Death can wait.
welcome to my martini glass
I have just watched a program from bed called The Last Samurai and found that it lacked many of the qualities I like in programs. It did have armor and horses and costumes, though, and I like those things.
It also reminded me that I don't know much of nothing about Japanese history and it also had ninjas. I went and googled ninja and went ten pages deep before giving up that I won't find anything. Video Ninja, White Ninja, Black Ninja, The Littlest Ninja. I went to Wikipedia and they talk about ninjas and sound authoritative until you read it again and then it sounds kind of fannish. So I still don't know anything about REAL NINJAS.
You need to begin with money. Publishing a book (trade paperback, 256 pp., 100+ galleys, 2,000 copies, good art, professional prrofreader [sic], friendly royalty rate) costs in the region of $10,000. Publishing two issues of a literary magazine (perfect bound, 72 pp., 2,000 copies, etc.) will cost about the same (assuming you choose to pay the contributors—and you're a nice person, so you will).
So, first things first: get a real job and prepare to stay up until 4 a.m. a couple of times a year. In the meantime, you could always start a zine: 200 copies of a photocopied zine cost much less than any of the above. When I started LCRW my rule of thumb for the cost was inspired by the billboards in winter in Boston offering cheap flights to Florida and the Caribbean. Since my blood was thicker then and I didn't mind the cold (don't believe anything else you hear), I figured I could spend what I'd drop on a weekend in the sun on a zine, say $200-400, without it seriously impacting my bookselling self's bottom line.
I have to say up front that I've never even seen $10,000.
"In many ways, editing yourself is the most important part of being a novelist. ... For every page in a published novel, I wrote 10 that ended up in the trash."
- Dan Brown from www.danbrown.com
Brown stats: 29 million copies of Da Vinci Code in print worldwide; more than 1 million of The Da Vinci Code: Special Illustrated Edition in USA
Too bad the entire book didn't make it there.
What Life Is All About is not just a tale I have created, it is theme perennial best selling authors, like God, attempt to address. However, mine targets the inquiring eight-year old, does it in less than 500 words, and is accompanied by gorgeous illustrations.
Elvis Costello once remarked, more or less, that you get 19 years to make your first album and 12 months to make your second. The same holds true for publishing, where successful first-time novelists are expected to crank out sophomore efforts within a year. (If Book No. 2 tanks, you generally can take the rest of your life writing No. 3.) Pinkerton's Sister, the second novel by the English writer Peter Rushforth, arrives a cool 25 years after his acclaimed debut, Kindergarten. That first book was a slender volume -- less than 200 pages -- a controlled, harrowing take on "Hansel and Gretel," filtered through an account of Holocaust survivors and late-20th-century terrorism.
At first glance, Pinkerton's Sister, which clocks in at 729 pages, 235,000 words and 2.4 pounds, seems to have little in common with its trim older sibling. But like Kindergarten -- whose protagonist is an illustrator of children's books, and which is filled with references to children's literature and fairy tales -- the new work is a book filled with other books.
This story, with its sinister echoes of the gothic tales that Alice loves, and a nightmarish, beautifully written denouement set during a blizzard, should have been freed from some of the wads of paper that surround it.
The American Cinematheque presents the "Celebrating the Teen in Us All" on Tuesday, April 5th at the Egyptian Theatre and Sunday, April 10th at the Aero Theatre. Join us for a booksigning of the new teen novel, Boy Proof (Candlewick Press) with local young adult fiction novelist and Cinematheque staffer Cecil Castellucci, followed by a screening of the original BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER feature.
Boy Proof is the story of Egg, (aka Victoria) who hides behind the sci-fi disguise of the heroine of her favorite movie Terminal Earth. Egg is far too busy for friends -- she's taking photos for the school paper, meeting with the Science Fiction and Fantasy Club, and hanging out at the "creature shop" with her special effects make-up wizard dad. But then a boy named Max arrives at school, a boy who's smart and funny and creative and cool . . . and happens to like Egg. The story is set in Los Angeles, and among other locations Egg frequents, is the American Cinematheque, where she volunteers!
Screenings are at the Lloyd E. Rigler Theatre at the historic 1922 Egyptian (6712 Hollywood Boulevard between Highland and Las Palmas) in Hollywood and at the Max Palevsky Theatre at the Aero Theatre located at 1328 Montana Avenue in Santa Monica.
If you imagine that a second draft can be created simply by sitting down and starting on page one, stop: You are about to fall into a classic trap. You are not yet ready to polish anything. I've repeatedly seen novices slaving away at polishing rough first drafts before they really had taken charge of the shape and structure and character alignments of the story itself. They had not yet taken possession of the narrative voice, they did not yet really know who their characters were. Polishing happened to be the only technique of revision they knew, and so they were polishing, hoping that it would release the things they needed, the way rubbing Aladdin's lamp released the genie.
It won't. Do not polish a mess. Polishing can't give your story its shape. Polishing can't show you what action you need or reveal your characters' roles. Polishing can't even give you the sound of your dialogue or your voice. In a second draft, you are going to be hauling huge hunks of prose to completely new places, cutting whole chapters, banishing irrelevant characters, and adding new relevant ones. With or without the help of your scenario, you are going to be dealing with structure. It will be hard work, but the nice thing is that once it is done, it is likely to stay done. You will not be restructuring much in third or final drafts. That is when you'll be polishing.
| Bacardi 151 |
Congratulations! You're 134 proof, with specific scores in beer (60) , wine (116), and liquor (104).
All right. No more messing around. Your knowledge of alcohol is so high that you have drinking and getting plastered down to a science. Sure, you could get wasted drinking beer, but who needs all those trips to the bathroom? You head straight for the bar and pick up that which is most efficient.
| My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender: |
|Link: The Alcohol Knowledge Test written by hoppersplit on Ok Cupid|
Fast or slow, once your first draft is done, be ready for it to be bad. Some parts may give you a pleasant surprise over how good they are, and the whole may not turn out to be quite as horrible as you feared during your very worst moments. Even so, it’s going to be bad. Do not let that badness bother you. Use the badness. I once heard Philip Roth tell a crowded roomful of writing students that, when it came to sheer stinking lousiness, he would match his first drafts against those of any writer in the place. Your own first draft will probably be ragged, inarticulate, blundering, dull, and full of gaping holes and blank spots—a mortifying mess. Use every mistake. The inarticulate parts point to where you must make words say exactly what you mean. The ragged parts point to what you must polish. The gaping holes tell you what has to be filled. The dull parts tell you unfailingly what must be cut. The blank spots show exactly what you must go out and find. These are infallible guides, and though they talk tough, they are your friends.
Except for the miraculous times when it doesn’t, EVERYTHING YOU WRITE WILL TAKE LONGER THAN YOU THINK IT SHOULD. What’s more, not one of your readers will ever give a damn if you wrote your story in a half an hour or half a year.
And, as it turns out, Poole's writings include no brain-eating dead folks.
What they do contain, Winchester police Detective Steven Caudill testified yesterday, is evidence that he had tried to solicit seven fellow students to join him in a military organization called No Limited Soldiers.
The writings describe a bloody shootout in "Zone 2," the designation given to Clark County.
"All the soldiers of Zone 2 started shooting," Caudill read on the witness stand. "They're dropping every one of them. After five minutes, all the people are lying on the ground dead."
The papers contain two different dates of Poole's death.
Poole has corresponded with someone in Barbourville who claimed to have acquired cash and guns in break-ins, Caudill testified.
No other arrests are pending, he said, but authorities are looking for other potential suspects listed in Poole's papers who are identified only by pseudonyms.
Exactly what do we do? you ask. First, at all times during this movement, and whatever else happens, remain extremely polite. Second, pass this manifesto around to your friends. E-mail it. Print it out and post it on utility poles and in the bathroom stalls of rock clubs. Slip a copy in the Second Quarter Sales Forecast brochure of your boss's boss. Let them know that, in addition to taking the bus more often, returning that Netfix video on the coffee table and giving $25 to PIRG, they should, if they have a moment, consider possibly joining this worldwide literary movement.
Third, go to your local bookstore (or nearest large chain bookstore if you want to make a bolder statement), find McSweeney's No. 15, furtively remove its shrink wrap (if any), and quietly read "Asuncion" by Roy Kesey, a compelling and well-told story.
Finally, thank yourself for a job well done.
As with any movement, especially a literary movement, several clarifications are in order.
First, you can still purhcase McSweeney's 15 if you want. This is not an effort to advertise for a cottage literary concern but neither is it an attempt to subvert the McSweeney's niche market. If you want to buy McSweeney's 15 and participate in the movement, just pick up McSweeney's 15 on your next trip to the bookstore, the one after your guerilla reading. The point of this movement -- the idea that is its engine, so to speak (and what an engine it is, if I may say, a glistening engine of such force and purpose it would make Elliot Spitzer weep) -- the point, I say again, is that not everyone can afford the $25.00 one must plunk down (and I don't use the word "plunk" lightly) for the latest example of compiled literary excellence that is McSweeney's 15. And yet everyone must read the story 'Asuncion' by Roy Kesey. It is a wonderful, artful, and true story, true in the deepest and most meaningful sense of that word.
Well, good books, and particularly good new books, go missing for a variety of reasons, many of which have been discussed again and again in this forum and elsewhere.
When books go missing, they do not run off and join the circus. They do not go on the road like Kerouac and seek out wild new adventures on cross-country treks. There is no Amber Alert for missing books.
It's damned hard to motivate readers to care about the books that are present and accounted for, well-displayed, and passionately handsold, but it's borderline impossible to get readers to care about the books that go missing.
Why should they care?
This is why.
Sometimes books need to be rescued.
Julian Rubinstein's Ballad of the Whiskey Robber has not gone missing yet. And it shouldn't, but it could, especially now, as it approaches the sixth month of its shelf life, a hazardous time for any newborn because that dreaded Returns virus is already looking for a way infect it.
There are several reasons why Rubinstein's book has not received the care and feeding it deserves, and most of them have nothing to do with the industry's often callous attitude toward its own product or with a publisher's ineptitude or even with an author's unwillingness to hit the bricks and make something happen.
Also, it looks like her husband is a miraculous cook (but then mine is too, so ha!).
Latest Recommendations from my Well-Read Friends:
Nicole, my extraordinary editor, recommends: Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood, by Alexandra Fuller . "You must read it immediately."
Robyn, my sister-in-arms, strongly, enthusiastically, vehemently and often recommends:Waiting for Snow in Havana:Confessions of a Cuban Boy, by Carlos Eire. So moved by the book, Robyn was prompted to write her first letter to an author (not including the note to Sherman Alexie, which was more like a thank you note for including her brilliant story in his anthology).
Since the two recommendations that came in were for memoirs, I will add a plug for Collected Stories, by Carol Shields. Released this month in hardcover, this book contains ALL of Carol Shields's short stories in one volume, including the previously unpublished story "Segue," her last work. Shields is an amazing short story writer and a powerhouse novelist: "Unless" is one of my favorites — though many in my circle would argue for "Stone Diaries," the Pulitzer-winner. She will be missed.
"We are always looking for the book it is necessary to read next. " —Saul Bellow
Martin is pear-shaped and doughy. His eyelashes are extremely long. He is sensitive and smart, but not as smart as I am. Rue is his girlfriend. She is thick-waisted but not really fat. She wears a scarf and a fedora hat all the time because she loves Doctor Who, but they don't go with her glasses and my mom would say that the browns wash out her pale skin. I think she should at least get rid of that old fedora or get over Doctor Who; I don't know which is more outdated.
Martin and Rue are so in love it makes me sick. They are in the kind of love you want to be in. They respect each other. They give each other space. They have individual personalities but they complement each other. I envy them.
I hate anybody in love.
"When I told my book club that I was writing about a book club, it seemed in response that they became more colorful and actually read the books and had interesting things to say--as if they were thinking this would look good on page. When we read Emma, none of them liked the book, and afterwards I became crosser and crosser and decided I could make up a better book club."
"What Do Women Want?"
I want a red dress.
I want it flimsy and cheap,
I want it too tight, I want to wear it
until someone tears it off me.
I want it sleeveless and backless,
this dress, so no one has to guess
what's underneath. I want to walk down
the street past Thrifty's and the hardware store
with all those keys glittering in the window,
past Mr. and Mrs. Wong selling day-old
donuts in their café, past the Guerra brothers
slinging pigs from the truck and onto the dolly,
hoisting the slick snouts over their shoulders.
I want to walk like I'm the only
woman on earth and I can have my pick.
I want that red dress bad.
I want it to confirm
your worst fears about me,
to show you how little I care about you
or anything except what
I want. When I find it, I'll pull that garment
from its hanger like I'm choosing a body
to carry me into this world, through
the birth-cries and the love-cries too,
and I'll wear it like bones, like skin,
it'll be the goddamned
dress they bury me in.
- by Kim Addonizio
As I've been reading through this thread, the comments of one veteran editor keep ringing in my head---he said to me, "Of course Analog is selling better than any other magazine: it's the least risky."
I bring up that comment, I guess, to defend against the charge of a conservative attitude in F&SF. I don't particularly like that word, "conservative," but I'll be the first to say that I've got to balance the artistic side of things with the commercial side. For every reader who appreciates the challenge that a story like John McDaid's "Keyboard Variations" offers, there are two or three readers who favor less challenging work like Ron Goulart's lighter fare.
Which is one reason why I'm happy to second Sean's sentiment when he says "I'm all for it!" to the writers blazing their own trails. I think the zine explosion of the last couple of years is very good for the field and I do my best to keep up with all the various magazines and anthologies, but I feel like someone needs to inject a note of commerciality into the discussion. Considering there are two threads running on the board now about declining circulation in the digests, it might be worth remembering that experimental fiction ("experimental" is another word like "conservative" that I don't particularly like, but I can't think of a better term right now; "riskier"? "less traditional"?) isn't necessarily commercial.
At the '97 World Fantasy Con, Graham Joyce and Jonathan Lethem did a panel that was on something like "Angst in Literature" or "Plumbing the Depths of Your Characters" or something like that. And there were about eight people in the audience, so Graham brought the panelists down from the dais and moved everyone into a circle, panelists and audience members alike. And it was a good discussion. In the next room, Terry Pratchett was talking about Humor in Fantasy or somesuch, and periodically one of Graham's excellent observations would be interrupted by the sound of scores of people laughing at one of Terry's comments next door. And Jonathan and I agreed, "Isn't this the way it always is? Here we've got the serious group having a great discussion for a handful of people, and there they've got hundreds of people laughing it up over the lighter fluff."
To take the next logical step, and speak of small press in general (and to reiterate something I've been saying for nearly three years now—the next ICFA will be the third anniversary of my first public declaration): We are in the Golden Age of Small Press, people. Wallow in it and enjoy yourselves. This is in terms of zines, collections, anthologies and novels. There’s lots of interesting, weird stuff. There’s wonderful classic stuff. And it’s being brought to life and/or sustained thanks to the tireless efforts of folks all across this great land. I won’t even begin to list all the great small press publishers out there (the NS Board full list of topics has many of them), but kudos to you all, and heartfelt thanks.
Part of the reason is that the big houses have the same kind of concerns that GVG has iterated so well, i.e. it’s a fine balance between publishing enough popcorn fiction to help pay for the finer, quirkier vintages that won’t appeal to as many folks. It can be a very difficult balancing act. But you do have folks like China Mieville, Graham Joyce, Jonathan Carroll and Gene Wolfe to name a few, who are fairly successful by most measures. Certainly, they’ll never sell the number of copies as a Robert Jordan, but that doesn’t matter. It’s about trying to reach whatever readers might enjoy your fiction, regardless of the size of the audience.
I don’t think a major house could focus its line on fiction from the edge—there simply isn’t enough horsepower to make it work financially (I grimly point to RH folding Anchor and Vintage into one tp line as an example from mainstream publishing—a consolidation that bothers me no end). You have to pick your spots and publish only that which you truly believe can sell. On the other hand, that’s what’s creating the gap in which small press can flourish. This means not only a wider variety of potential publishers, but a wider variety of editorial vision—which means a writer has yet another shot to reach some kind of market. This is a good thing. Ten years ago, your options were more limited. (Of course, the downside to all this diversification means there’s much greater competition for the consumer’s dollar—I think mags suffer from the sheer volume of competition for the entertainment dollar more than anything else.)