March 15, 2005

More Counting (UPDATED....TWICE)

Number of 24 hour Stomach Flus before gods releases: One. PLEASE GOD, just the one. And just to be perfectly clear, Lord, the flu that laid me low yesterday definately counts.

I am still a little weak-n-trembly today, but busy. I am working on a BACK STORY for gods in Alabama. (It'll be up the week book releases--I'll link to it---and I was VERY EXCITED to be asked!)

Today, I am trying to decide if I should write 1) the external series of events that led me to sit down and start writing this particular book, or 2) a more internal, mystical, muse-infested, warty-fingering-of-feelings and twanging of psychological trip-wires that made these characters bother me about this story until I wrote it. I think the FIRST one, because I have NO FREAKING IDEA about the second one and it kinda gives me the screaming creeps to even consider it. I am the girl who, as you may recall, thinks that the examined life is not worth living, and if I thought about what IT ALL MEANS, what it says about me, where it is coming from, if I kept revolving it all, it all, in my poor mind, I'd have to go sit down somewhere very quiet where I would give up novels in order to write on the soft walls in crayon using only my toes.

(The above paragraph contains an obscure pop-culture reference and an EVEN MORE obscure literary one. Find both, be the first to identify them in comments, and I will say with deep sincerity, 'YOU ARE MY HERO,' and then I will send you a a very small and dorky prize pack containing AT LEAST two things I have sitting on my desk right now. My desk is a HORRORSHOW. I have NO IDEA what I will find on it when I clean it off, but TWO things will be sent to YOU, oh intrepid identifier of references. Heck even if you have to resort to google, you will STILL be my hero -- it's pretty dern obscure. I run in this contest in the hope that I will be forced to clean off my desk. I make it so hard in the equally sincere hope that no one will win and I can leave my desk to fester in peace.)

SO the first one. I think a lot of other writers read Back Story, and the more PROCESS oriented, external story might be interesting to them. AND I have a bee in my drawers about it today: My friend and fellow GCC'er Martha O’Connor was talking about the fires she walked through to find an agent and a publisher for her first novel, and I was surprised by much it surprised writers who are just beginning their agent/publisher search.

I think 95% of the writers who find homes for their novels have taken a long and winding and rocky road to get there. The other 5% were in the right place at the right time and lightening struck, but the vast majority of us will be in therapy for YEARS recovering from the process of getting that first teeny toe hold on a writing career. I think it's REALLY GOOD to be up front about that when talking to other writers who haven't found their agent or their editor/publishing house yet--who are just now gearing themselves up to try.

Some successful writers seem to have forgotten---or maybe they just DOWNPLAY---the ugliness of the road once they get the book contract because most of us artsy fartsy types have a little (or medium, or large, or YAWPINGLY HUGE CHASM-Y GAPING) pocket of insecurity sewn into our guts, and maybe we think, "OH, if I admit how hard it was to get here, if I admit that I had to struggle and toil and I have a packet of rejection letters so thick it's the understudy for the part of "EARTH'S CRUST", then isn't that like admitting I am NOT good enough, pretty enough, smart enough, special enough???"

Well, that's CRAP, and it makes OTHER good writers creep away bleeding after one round of rejections, thinking they aren't good, pretty, smart, special enough. I never want to stop saying, "This IS a tough business, and one in which being a talented writer is NOT where it ends. That is where it starts. People always say that if the book is good, it will find a home, but I think there are PLENTY of books that can compete that will NEVER see the light of day. Because once you are writing really good books, you have to ALSO be crazy-cakes driven to find a publisher, congenitally unable to hear the word no, and you have to dig under that yawping pocket of fear and self-loathing and find your little crystaline core that believes, if not in yourself, at least in your work, and IT IS THERE or you wouldn't have shoved at the boundaries of your busy life and MADE the space and the time to write the book in the first place. Be the kind of writer who, when a publishing house tells you NO THANKS, goes all CHUMBA WUMBA on their buttocks, singing I GET KNOCKED DOWN! BUT I GET UP AGAIN ETC ETC LA LA LA."

*cough* Um, Scuse me. *creeps down off soapbox* So. I better go write that back story.

ADDENDUM: Danielle just GOT the pop culture reference AND she did find a lit ref although not the one I meant. Another one that snuck in there when I wasn't looking. Socrates is tricksy that way, the little philosophical weasel. SO, She wins. BUT I bet I can find MORE stuff on my desk, so if anyone gets the MORE obscure reference, I will send THEM a prize too. Why the heck NOT. My desk is cluttered enough to provide prizes for any ten contests...

ADOUBLEDENDUM: Deb Richardson gets it:
"Footfalls", by Samuel Beckett: reference to May "revolving it all, it all in my poor mind." I thought I woudl have to wait for Waylon and his Yolanda Reed trained theatre brain, but Deb has skunked him! CONGRATS!

Posted by joshilyn at March 15, 2005 8:53 AM

"The unexamined life is not worth living" Socrates said this. According to Plato's "Apology"

Posted by: Danielle at March 15, 2005 10:26 AM

Somebody wrote on the wall with crayon between their toes in the final scene of one of the pink panther movies

Posted by: Danielle at March 15, 2005 10:41 AM

WHOOPS yep that's a reference alright. HEH. I didn;t even notice that was IN there... But but but (searches desperately for a technicality...ah GOT one) I don't think it counts as obscure. There is a MORE obscure one than THAT in there that big fat mess of a paragraph.

Lord, but blogging is WEIRD. You just spew out whatever you think of in less than half an hour, and you don't even notice your own references...and when I read a truly fantastic blog like CHEZ MISCARRIAGE--I mean she GETS the form you know, and I think, "I wonder what getupgrrl could do if she ever EDITED." Appropos of nothing.

Posted by: Joshilyn at March 15, 2005 10:41 AM

which one is not obscure enough? plato or pink panther?

Posted by: Danielle at March 15, 2005 10:48 AM

Okay, someone already posted Socrates. Not sure if that was the lit reference or not. But I believe the super-obscure pop culture reference you speak of is this:

And all of a sudden I just realized that…ah…they were just little, screaming creeps in the face of reality. And that they didn’t know what was happening anymore than I did.
That was the first time I tasted fear.

Which, google tells me (and no, I'm not ashamed that I googled it. I still take credit for knowing WHAT to google!) is from HWY: An American Pastoral, an experimental film by the Doors' Jim Morrison.

Posted by: Aimee at March 15, 2005 10:56 AM

Unless it's from the writings of Herman Hesse or Christopher Moore, I'll never figure it out. :-)

Posted by: Brooks at March 15, 2005 12:42 PM

Oh my goodness. My bloglines has stopped alerting me when you update so I thought you had quit blogging. I got worried and came to the site but you HAVE been blogging, and I have been missing out. Sigh...

I will totally be in Atlanta briefly this Sun and next Sat.

Posted by: Heather at March 15, 2005 12:44 PM

"Footfalls", by Samuel Beckett: reference to May "revolving it all, it all in my poor mind"

Posted by: DebR at March 15, 2005 1:47 PM

Dude. Heck with Samuel Beckett. We're still waiting upon the resolution of the SOCK STORY.
I mean REALLY.

Posted by: Kira at March 15, 2005 5:16 PM

How are your granaries? (Ask Mr. Husband)

Posted by: Waylon at March 15, 2005 10:39 PM

Kira has a point. I'm losing sleep over the sock story. I've always hated cliffhangers. ;-)

Posted by: DebR at March 16, 2005 8:43 AM