Originally Posted to Blogger – Monday, January 08, 2007
My week’s vacation from work is over and the first quarter of my January “underground” is done.
Late in ’06, I decided to get my creative projects in gear by taking January and throwing myself headlong into the process, swearing off my social life and cuddling up to my new laptop. I burned a handful of vacation days so that I could take the first week of the month off. My plan was to spend about 2/3 of my time writing and the other third working on my music demo.
I’ve had a nasty, lingering cold that’s made me varying degrees of miserable over the past week, effectively eliminating my voice most of the time, so I didn’t so much as pick up a musical instrument or sing a note. (You might be thinking, hey, you could have recorded the instrumental tracks even if you couldn’t sing. True, but my plan had been to lay rough simultaneous voice/guitar tracks first, to use as guides for the multiple musical lines and then finish up with the vocal track. With my process mangled, I put it on hold.)
So, I’ve spent the majority of my time writing, which is really what this was all about anyway.
My original plan was to primarily focus on my first novel length effort, with a backup short story and (somewhat uncharacteristically) a poem to play with if I needed a diversion from the novel. I had a rough draft, hand written, of the prologue to the novel. I ended up spending several days typing it up, revising, adding new parts, cutting things, re-evaluating dialogue and revising again. Now I have what I think of as a second draft, 14 (microsoft word) pages, just shy of 10,000 words. Even considering the deeper cuts and cleanup I’ll perform on it, that’s one hefty prologue.
During this time, I have also been researching the market for my kind of fiction, and have found the most obvious place to break into the fiction business is in the short story market. There are numerous magazines that print first-time, genre writers. They don’t pay that much, but if I can get published in them, it’s a stepping stone to where I eventually wish to be.
With this in mind, I also came to the decision that a novel is too big a project for me at this stage of my practice. While I have a detailed plot prepared for it, the prospect of tackiling it is honestly quite daunting. After a long discussion with Wendy about the whole thing, I’ve made up my mind to focus on shorter works first, and to move up to novella and novel length pieces as my craft improves.
With this in mind, I’ve begun writing a story called “Pitch”, based on a concept I’ve been kicking around for about a decade. Over the years, my excuse for not writing it (in my head) was that I thought it was a really great, original idea, and I didn’t want to attempt it until I had some writing chops. Which was another way of saying I was scared to try it, or just lazy. I still think it’s a very good story but, skill or no skill, it’s time to write the damn thing. At the point of this writing I’m five (ms word) pages in, about 2,600 words. And I’m just now getting to the event that really sets the story in motion. Apparently I’m going to be one of those long-winded writers that will eventually need to cut, cut, cut. *sigh*
Also, after examination, the prologue for my novel stands very well as a short story unto itself. With some re-tooling, it might be worth submission to publishers. If I can get it in print, reaction to it could tell me if the subsequent novel is something I should really invest my time in.
As for the previously mentioned poem, it’s called “Corners”, and is currently in second draft status. While I fancied myself a poet-type in early high school, it’s been a long time since I’ve put any non-prose together outside the purpose of songwriting. I generally don’t enjoy reading poetry. It’s just not my thing. Long ago my interest turned towards the lyrical, and I don’t often stray from that. Once in awhile, though, an idea forms on paper (or computer screen) in poetry form, rather without my consent. This is one of those times and, for once, I actually like it. It’s really a narrative in poetic form. I’m not sure if it’s good, but I really felt it when I wrote it, even in revision.
I hope to soon pass along these works to some creatively-bent friends for real constructive criticism, but I’m waiting to complete third drafts first.
TOTALLY UNRELATED STUFF:
If you’re a fan of horror, stuff that’s crudely funny and/or Nathan Fillion (Mal from Firefly/Serenity), you should watch “Slither”, now on DVD. Sadly a box office bomb, this is a really entertaining film, thick with classic horror homage, great dark humor and ridiculous amounts of old-school-meets-new-school, over-the-top gore. While gross, the movie isn’t really scary, more creepy in a fun way. Plus, the DVD special features are awesome and generally quite funny, especially the ones devoted to Nathan.
If you’re looking for non-cerebral fun in theaters, check out Night at the Museum. This is purely a kids’ movie, but it’s a good ride. Yes, you could nitpick the hell out of it, but take it from a kid’s level, and it’s a blast. Plus, it encourages kids to learn! It sure is silly, but sometimes, that’s just what the brain needs.
X-BOX FOR SALE: In case anybody is interested, I’m selling my Xbox gaming system, with two controllers, for $60. Intent on pursuing the writing life, I’m trying to purge unnecessary distractions, video games being a big one. So, my Xbox and games are on the market. (Now, if I could just tear myself away from New Super Mario Bros. on my wife’s Nintendo DS…).