Posts Tagged ‘Project W’

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Tomorrow I start

June 1, 2011

Tomorrow, June 1st, I’m sitting down and starting the new WIP. Do I have every detail of plot as ironed out as I would like? No, not really, but looking over my old notes from Project W has made me realize how much of that story was conceived on the fly. It’s like the old saying that writing a book is like driving at night; you can only see as far as your headlights allow, but you can make the whole trip that way.

My trusty guide

As for world-building and characterization… well, a lot of the world-building still holds from Project W, as it’s set in the same universe. The characters are new, but they seem talkative and cooperative thus far. As always, I’m quietly excited to see who gets picked up along the way. It’s like the night before the first day of school- when you know, at that very moment, there is someone out there who will become one of your new friends. But at that very moment, neither of you knows the other exists yet.

I have some idea of what I’m in for. My map and bag are packed, my travelling companions are raring to go, but there’s still one or two last-minute checks to make.

The night before anything is always one of the longest and shortest nights, isn’t it?

-Arvik

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Kind Words

April 22, 2011

It’s been a while since I’ve posted about the agent-hunt, and since I just received another “No” in my inbox, I suppose this makes it a good time for an update.

So. The “No’s” have been flying fast and furious (I know the plurals usually don’t take apostrophes, but “Nos” just looks funny to me. Like I was typing “Nose” but forgot to finish the word). They’ve pretty much all been of the “Dear Author” variety too, although I’m not so sure about this last one. Either the agent is excellent at making form letters sound more personal, or it wasn’t a form letter.

Naturally, this isn’t the most encouraging, although I think I’ve reached the point where it’s pretty easy to shrug it off and send it out again. Persistence is the key, right?

I will admit, I was kind of reaching the point where I was wondering if I should just move on. Spring seems to be my time for pre-writing, and I am well into working out the plot points of a new novel. If all goes well, that’s what I’ll be working on this summer. But I digress. Note that I said, “I was kind of reaching the point…”

That’s because I did get a much better kind of “No” than “Dear Author.” I got a “No” from an editor that was along the lines of (and I’m paraphrasing like mad here), “I’m not sure we could sell it, but it needs a home. You should try [insert publishers’ names here].”

Even though it was a no, it made my day. It was a “No-but-I-like-it” kind of no, and I think that’s the best kind. The assertion that “it needs a home” especially made me smile, because of its perfect timing. After all I was on the point of wondering whether I should just quietly put this one aside. Now… well, now I think I’m going to push on with it for  a while longer.

Simple words can have a strong impact.

-Arvik

PS. It occurs to me that it’s nearly Easter. I shall probably have to do something to mark the occasion. 🙂

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I’ve come to a decision

April 1, 2011

Hi everyone,

This has been perhaps the hardest post for me to write. Maybe you’ve noticed that I haven’t been posting quite as much lately. This is regrettable. I wish I could blame it all on life and work imploding around me, but it’s been more than that.

I thought I knew what I wanted. For as long as I can remember, I have always dreamed of being a writer. One of the earliest connections I felt with the craft happened at age six. A visiting storyteller mentioned how when he was a kid, other kids thought he was weird because he wandered around by himself, muttering stories under his breath. I remember sitting bolt upright amongst all the other children on the floor, my eyes like saucers because I did the exact same thing. And here was proof that I wasn’t weird: I was just a future storyteller, just like this guy.

Some years later, and… well, I’m feeling pulls in another direction. Yes, I know I was just talking about making early notes for another novel, but if the first one isn’t doing so well making the rounds of the agent-hunt… I don’t know. Maybe it’s time to heed those pulls.

After much soul-searching, I have decided, with much sadness, that I am going to pull out of the arts. Carefully place my notebooks on the shelf. Cap all my pens. Close the laptop lid.

Writing is… was… wonderful for me. But it was all dreaming  empty thoughts about things that don’t exist. And while I am profoundly grateful for the experience, I think it’s time for me to grow up. No more spaceships. No more dragons. No more sending heroes off to save the world.

I’m done with Science Fiction and Fantasy. I’m done with writing.

I need something concrete, something real. And frankly, I need something that will actually bring in enough money to keep my stomach full and a roof over my head.

So, thank you all for staying with me, and with Intergalactic Writers’ Inc., for this long. I appreciate it more than you will ever know. And before I sign off on this, the final post here at IWI, I would just like to say:

Bwahahahahaha! Oh man, I could not keep a straight face writing all that. Just to make things perfectly clear, I will not stop writing until I am a mindless brain in a jar. Bring on the SF/F. Let there be dragons and magic, androids and spaceships, cyberpunk and steampunk, urban and dark fantasy, space operas and epic fantasy, sword and sorcery, and heroes and heroines for many, many, many years to come.

Cheerfully (if cheekily) yours,

Arvik

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A Spark of Story

March 30, 2011

There’s been a story quietly brewing in the back of my mind for a little while. Since the Agent-Hunt seems stalled (i.e. I’ve become well acquainted with the word “no”), this is good; I need a new project. I’ve made some notes. I have a few characters. I know the basic plot arc (though the details of the final resolution are still fuzzy). I seem to be following my usual pattern of Plan in Spring, Write in Summer, Edit in Autumn, Rest in Winter.

And then… Bam!

Turns out it’s a different story than I thought.

I think I’ve finally found the story that fits all those images of ice and snow my subconscious keeps throwing at me. Needless to say, I am very excited, and frankly, this clears up a lot of plot issues I’d been having.

One issue, though. This story takes place in the same world as my last novel, code-named “Project W.” Different time period and different characters, but same mythology, geography, and magic. On the one hand, the stream of rejections W has garnered makes me a little ambivalent about returning to this world. Not because I’m not having fun writing in this universe, but because a part of me wonders if it’s worth it.

Then I thought some more. The reality is, I still have time. For all that I can be crotchety, I am still a few years away from entering the real world. That means, that frankly, most of what I write right now is going to suck  (W probably being a case in point). That’s okay, though, because the only way to not suck is to keep writing. And if anything I write is going to be valuable in and of itself as practice, why not write the story I want to tell?

I’ve been feeling like I’ve hit a plateau in my writing. Now, I may be wrong, but this new insight may represent a learning curve for me. And that, I think, is reason enough to pursue it.

-Arvik

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And the first rejections are coming in!

February 27, 2011

Well, my agent-hunt has started to yield answers.

So far, the answer is “No.”

Which stings a little, I will admit. I did my homework before, so I knew I was going to face a lot of rejection, and I knew I’d have to try a lot of agents, and I knew and told myself that at this stage of my life, this is more for the experience of querying and building a thick skin than it is for anything else.

But there is that little pinprick. Realistically, how could there not be? If you care about your work, you’ve got to feel something when people say “Not for me.”

The trick is moving on. Trying the next one. Recalling all those stories of writers who queried dozens of agents, got to the point of giving up, and then got accepted by the next one.

I was checking my email right before bed for something else and had a rejection waiting for me. Not a great way to slip off into dreamland, but then I had the following dialogue with myself (I swear I’m not crazy, though… I just tend to think in dialogue. Like those old philosophical works).

“What, did you think you’d get an agent the first few tries?”

“Well, no, but… but she didn’t like it.”

“You had some trepidation about this one because her last few sales have been YA. You’re probably not in the direction she wants to be moving.”

“But it was a form rejection!!!”

“So? They’re busy. Everyone starts out with form rejections, and you are just starting out.”

“I guess.”

“And look- you’re getting your first rejections! And you haven’t exploded into a million pieces of shame and despair! Even if you’re not ready to run with the big dogs, you’re learning for the day you will be ready.”

“I suppose I do have time.”

“Exactly! Academia’s sheltering arms will give you a few more years to hone your craft. Besides: how many publishers rejected Harry Potter? How much did you hear about rejections on I Should Be Writing?”

“A lot.”

“See? Now… who’s next on the short list?”

I’ve always known that my fear of failure and sensitivity to rejection would be obstacles I would have to overcome if I want to succeed in this profession. There’s just no way around it: you need a thick skin to survive. And this is an excellent way to get mine to toughen up.

By the end of this, I’ll be as strong and tough as an armadillo.

Cheers!

Arvik

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Mistake or Opportunity?

February 15, 2011

In general, people like to avoid mistakes. Who likes being wrong? Who likes taking something for what it’s not? (I enjoy breaking words down: mis-take = a wrong take. If there are any etymologists out there, I’m sorry 😉 ).  

I’ve never been terribly fond of them, myself. All through school, I strove to keep my papers and tests free of the things like they were plague-infested rats. Then I had a high school teacher who, on the first day, instructed us all to pick up our mistakes and hug them, to appreciate them for all that they taught us.

How I pictured my mistakes.

At the time, it was just awkward to be clutching a handful of air to my chest. But as time wears on, I’ve been finding myself thinking about her words more and more often. Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone. They span the gamut from typos to full-on diplomatic incidents.

But they help us grow.

If I wrote a novel that had no mistakes (not one, nothing that could be improved in characterization, plotting, theme, or copyedits), then I really wouldn’t be able to write a better book. At best, the next one I wrote would be just as good. More likely, it would be worse. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to keep producing work that is “just as good.” I want to learn and apply new skills and experience. I want to dive deeper. I want to get better. 

All of that happens through making mistakes. If something works, you tend to use the same method the next time. I do, anyway. But if something fails, you’re forced to find an alternative, a new perspective. Your base of experience widens, and you grow.

On a purely pragmatic note, mistakes can also be fertile ground for innovation. I’m thinking specifically of writing here, and even more specifically of planning stories. As a teenager, I wrote a rather derivative fantasy. However, during the planning stage, I accidentally called my country’s capital by two different names. Rather than just choosing one, I cast about for an idea to explain why it had two different names. What I came up with turned out to be the point on which the plot turned, and was probably one of the novel’s few redeeming qualities.

All because of a mistake.

Or as I start planning this next novel. I’d like to explore further in the universe of Project W (my code-name for the novel that is now making the rounds… which now feels funny to type, as the title has been changed, and now starts with an H). And I’m finding that a lot of my ideas are coming from inconsistencies and threads that were laid down in the first book.

I think mistakes allow for so much growth because they are intrinsically unplanned. They therefore force you to be original. You have to come up with your own plan, rather than relying on someone else’s formula. And yes, that’s scary, but that’s what pushes us out of own comfort zone and into flight.

We cherish our successes so much, as we should… but our failures are so much more valuable.

-Arvik

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It lives!

February 2, 2011

Excellent news. Remember how a short while ago, I gave a published author the first three chapters of my manuscript to read?

She got back to me yesterday.

When I first opened the email, I cringed to see a long, dense wall of text. I will admit, my first thought was, “Oh no! Was it really that awful?” (Yeah, about that low self-esteem…)

But it wasn’t. In fact, it was a wall of nice things. Very nice things. Things that made me squeal and leap around my room, boxing the air like a kangaroo.

Oh, sure, there were suggestions. However, they were, in her own words, “nit-picky” and “minor.” I’ve just made the largest single edit she recommended, and it took maybe a quarter-hour. 

So, in sum? Arvik gets the green light! Whoot! It may in fact be time to start an agent hunt… although I have one final card left to play. If it goes well, I’ll let you all know. If not, I have a list of agents whom I’d like to try, and a query letter ready to go.

Excitement! Happy! Yay!

-Arvik