Monday, January 25, 2010

The Dead Zone

The start of 2010 has been great: BTW went out to my first "readers" and I have 7 short stories bravely taking their chances as cannon fodder with literary magazine editors. The only trouble is that I'm not currently writing. Ideas flit past and shards of stories litter several spiral notebooks in my office, but nothing is growing. It's a dead zone. The harder I try, the worse it gets. How frustrating it is to have a string of snug winter mornings free of commitments, and.....nothing. Nada. Zip. Brain dead.
It seems to follow the capriciousness of the Muse that whenever there is a quiet spell, she is supremely bored. What she doesn't know is that I can see her quite clearly. Today, she is a lithesome 1920s femme fatale. She wears a tastefully sequined mauve dress; her dark hair is bobbed and wrapped in a feathered turban. She glares at me, her crimson moue tightening slightly, reflecting her disdain. The grasping efforts of mortals are so very vulgar. Raising the foot-long onyx cigarette holder which she has delicately pinched in her right hand, she taps a bit of scornful ash on my desk and stalks off to find a more fun party in someone else's head.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Happy New Year

So how did it get to be six days into 2010 and 34 days since my last post??
The short answer is that for all of December I was doing a mad dash to finish my novel, Beyond the World. I had set a deadline for myself--the end of the year--and I scrambled to the final line a little past ten on the morning of New Year's Eve.
BTW is technically my third attempt at a novel, but it is the only one I have taken far enough to send out to a group of "readers." The seven people who have volunteered for this task have my deepest gratitude (and sympathy). If/when the story gets published, I'll treat them all to a champagne dinner at a suitably la-di-dah restaurant.
However, there is still work to be done. I'm counting on those--dare I say it? magnificent 7 readers--to find all the errors and problems to which, after 18 months, I am blind: gaps in the story, dropped subplots, pesky details like arbitrary name changes, blue eyes suddenly being green, spelling errors, etc.
Once the manuscript is "perfect," I need a synopsis. That means taking 60,000 words and reducing them to 250. No prob.
Then, I need a query letter so compelling that any agent will immediately sweep everything else off her desk to give my manuscript her full attention. Right.
After that is done, I have to determine where to send the query. A quick Google search tells me there are roughly 4600 literary agents lurking about. That ought to make it easy.
With a "perfect manuscript," a dynamic query letter, and a scintillating synopsis, how can I miss? The odds against me feel overwhelming, and it would be way easy to shove the thing in a drawer.
But along with a champagne dinner, I'd really like to give my "magnificent seven" acknowledgment of their support in a published book.