Paving the road to nowhere, one word at a time.

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Location: Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico

American born, living in Mexico since 1992.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Little Things

Say that in your spare time, whatever spare time you get, you decide that it's time to start hammering out that novel or two you've had in your head for several years. You begin to write it, tearing out at breakneck speed, tossing some of it as you go, fixing some of it in the process. At some point it hits you: Am I doing this right? Am I good enough to sell a novel?

And then something really jars you - you realize that you don't know the answers to either question. So, you begin to balance writing your novel with searching for the answers to the questions. In searching, you learn that you really don't understand the publishing world at all. You decide to investigate.

Sure, you've sold shorts, and you worked for a couple of years a long time ago writing for a newspaper, but those are completely different processes with entirely different sets of dynamics. So, you search the internet and find that many published novelists and agents and editors of publishing houses are more than happy to share information with you. As you learn, what you read does not always excite you. There is a business side to this entire process that you hadn't considered. Some of the agents are very snarky, almost condescending. Many of the authors are very high-handed.

But after a year or so, you begin to understand more. Your writing improves because of it. But mostly, for better or worse, the publishing world and how it works becomes more apparent. And along the way, you interact with published novelists, editors, and agents. You begin to notice that you check many of their weblogs daily. You find yourself participating, exchanging ideas, and offering and receiving advice and counseling.

While you have come to understand that writing a publishable novel is not easy, and that the process of getting a novel published is damned depressing sometimes, little things happen that gives you encouragement. Writing a nice story in your weblog, a story that prompts comments of praise can make you feel pretty good sometimes - after all, once you get that novel published they are likely going to be your readers. Selling a story is always nice, especially when you get fan mail.

Still, it is up and down, there are highs and lows. I mean, one day you're in a heated argument with John Scalzi concerning what writers should be paid, and the next day you're honored by an editor at a publishing house. Little things? Perhaps. I didn't win, but I didn't expect to be a finalist, either. Many of the writers that submitted are published novelists.

Am I doing this right? Am I good enough to sell a novel? I don't know yet, but these little things are encouraging.


Blogger tijuanagringo said...

Yes. You are.

5:13 PM, December 30, 2009  
Blogger tijuanagringo said...

#2 yeah aint it a bitch. Just when you think it's only about the storytelling, i.e.: """Cuando despertó, el dinosaurio todavía estaba allí. ("When [s]he awoke, the dinosaur was still there.")""", you wake up to find it is also about the selling of soap.

Oh, and using word verification, now, to avoid the robotspam getting stuck to your shoes. That part may be completely new.

8:01 AM, January 06, 2010  
Blogger tijuanagringo said...

Augusto Monterroso 1921-2003

8:03 AM, January 06, 2010  

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