The written word and all its worth…

I was reading through one of my favorite blogs this morning, sifting through the archive and found this little gem: http://literaryrejectionsondisplay.blogspot.com/2008/02/one-rejected-writers-manifesto-listen.html

F. Scott Fitzgerald is one of my favorites and I found this brief commentary powerful, heartbreaking and poignant. I also found it mildly entertaining. With my recent feelings about the state of things in the publishing world being so grim, and with consideration of how much crap is being praised as ‘fresh’ and ‘urban’, I smiled, drank more coffee and wondered how we let it get this far? Where did we give up literary value for shock factor, or merit for quick entertainment? Sure, I might get a kick for a day over reading some of the nameless drugstore drivel out there, but does it last? Do I find myself pondering over the characters or the worlds they populate, days later? Sadly, no.

It’s been quite a while since I read something truly fresh. My personal taste is for fantasy work, but literary and fantasy fiction are not mutually exclusive. But, I relent. I fear I am standing on a rotting soapbox here…

Some worlds never die

Some worlds will never die. Regardless of how many generations come and go, there are some places that once imagined, will never cease to be.

As a young girl, I read E. R. Eddison’s work, The Worm Ouroboros. It remained a part of my mind long after I had closed the book.
Gro answered and said, “I will not hide it from you, O my Lord the King, that in my sleep about the darkest hour a dream of the night came to my bed and beheld me with a glance so fell that the hairs of my head stood up and pale terror gat hold upon me. And methought the dream smote up the roof above my bed, and the roof yawned to the naked air of the midnight, that laboured with fiery signs, and a bearded star travelling in the houseless dark. And I beheld the roof and the walls one gore of blood. And the dream screeched like the screech-owl, crying, Witchland from thy hand, O King! And therewith the whole world seemed lighted in one flame, and with a shout I awoke sweating from the dream.”

Why is that one of my favorite passages from Ouroboros? I love the imagery. The visceral feel of the world in which Gro lives. It takes me, terrifyingly of course, to another existence. How much fiction have you read lately that can lay claim to that? So much pop fiction frustrates me. Is this a lost art? Is Epic Fantasy losing its readership to paranormal and urban fantasy? Some think so. Quite a bit has been said lately about the decline of book sales in the genre. Is this a passing trend? I personally think so. There is a really good discussion of it here http://aidanmoher.com/blog/?p=230#comment-2057
Epic stories are too much a part of our being. In a commercial, pragmatic world, its nice to fall into a realm that knows nothing of emails, or cell phones, or the wonderless existence of living in polluted, over-crowded cities.
Who hasn’t experienced loss that, even for a second, made you wish for the impossible? Even those who claim they don’t care for fantasy, are drawn to newstories that are seemingly incongruent with reality.
Our daily world is built on the foundation of immediate gratification. We are no more invested in imaginery worlds than we are our own. But, this mindset is relatively new. Like all things, it will change. We’ll find the lost art of letters, and face to face communication. Not to be archaic, but I like things that leave more than a page in your browser history. I am not alone.
So, no. I don’t think Epic Fantasy is dying. The publishing trend may be pulling things in a different direction, but as the pendulum swings it will return again. Some worlds will never die.

Really…how much coffee does it take?

I am on my third cup this morning. I also wonder why I can’t sleep at night. hmmm.
I suppose during this part of the process I should refrain from caffeine, but where is the fun in that? This brings to mind questions as to what things other writers find necessary for their craft. Where do you write your best? Are there any rituals you go through before beginning for the day?
For reasons even I cannot fathom, I like the scent of mistletoe year round. No, I’m not kidding.  I have two or three Yankee candles that are either said scent, or pumpkin spice, that I burn when I write. Coffee is another needful thing. I have a favorite place (lake cabin), though I can only go there on the weekend. My writing room at the house takes its place during the week. It seems too that I am at my best when its late. Darkness leads to less distractions, I suppose. Everyone is asleep, and the world outside of my door is quiet. I listen to music most of the time, only refraining when I am in the outline stage of a project.
What do I listen to? Musical scores mostly, and trailer music. (Movie previews, ass…not trailor park music. You should get out more often)
So what do you do? I realize this blog is scarcely read right now, but I have to start it somewhere.

Writing isn’t a choice

Whoever told you that it was, must count the description of their ebay bid as writing. I write because I must. This isn’t new or unique to me as an author. I have heard this before and completely agree. Who would choose a career that takes years (usually) to see professional results? Writing often makes us reclusive individuals. I personally have a reputation for never having my cell phone charged, and forget calling the land line…I don’t answer it anyway (those of you who know me, hush).
How many times do you have to decline invitations before others stop inviting you places? How often do you find yourself in the awkwardness of trying to explain what your epic fantasy novel is about, to loved ones who don’t read the genre…if you’re me, the answer is quite often. Its somewhat like trying to explain global warming to a toddler. They don’t understand the world you are describing, let alone the cause and effect aspects of a plot involving creatures they can’t comprehend. It could be entertaining were it not for the uncomfortable silence that always ensues (Followed of course by…’Isn’t that nice, dear. Be sure to send me a signed copy when its published’).
Equally as vexing is the completely errant beliefs of those who have no idea how very little an author makes. No, having a book published doesn’t mean I can quite my day job and buy you a car…or anything else requiring money for that matter.
The odds are the most staggering thing for me. Consider how few books are on the shelves in Barnes and Noble. Now, narrow that down further by cutting everything out but your specific genre. Then, take into account how many authors submit their work on a weekly basis. Lastly, do get yourself a drink to hopefully counter how sobering this realization is. A kind of gut hollowing silence always follows my thoughts of this nature, that reminds me why I write at all…because I must.
I write because I can’t fathom doing anything else with my time. I love the worlds I create, and even more so, the characters that populate them. The good, the bad and the ugly. One of my favorite characters in my current project is the darkest personality I’ve ever written.
I write because it is what fuels my soul. No writer, regardless of how seasoned, can spit out a perfect manuscript upon first draft. There isn’t an agent or editor alive who can predict the future (though same may try), so though you may not be ready as an author now…you may mature in your own voice enough to share your creations with the world. Only you can make that determination.
It is easy to get discouraged. It is easy to give up. It is much harder to continue to have faith in your words when others have made judgments that you know are accurate. Try to see what exists beyond the static of a manuscript in need of work…don’t trash it. It may be drivel…now. That has no bearing on what it will be later. Your will determines that.

Why so glum?

They say that being published will not change you. They say that being bitter early in the game is both a bad sign, and a predictor of future success. They say that perseverance is the key to breaking into the market. They also said the world was flat.
I began this blog to vent the frustrations of an author in pursuit. Gee, that’s never been done.
This is more for my health than for the pragmatism of it. I need to tell what part of the world wanders past this blog by accident, how frustrating it is to read 20 something different guides on how to write a professional query letter.  Yeah, I know that each individual agent is different from the next…thank you captain obvious. What confuses me is not the subtle stuff, it’s the universal rights and wrongs that they all claim. It’s a little like religion if you ask me, everyone has a monopoly on truth.
On another note, trying to find an agent is somewhat like dating. I assume this is not a new analogy. It just strikes me as funny every time I find myself getting overly hopeful. I just know this agent is right for me…sound familiar?
So, I suppose in a way that makes me single and searching. I have sent out a few queries, and like that first impression on a blind date, we’ll see.

If you happened to catch this blog early on…keep watching.