Sunday, April 25, 2010

Well, Now.

Tuesday night, after one hell of a rough shift at work, I came home to find an email waiting for me. It was from the publisher I’d submitted Teahouse to.

In the Teahouse will be published by Library of the Living Dead Press.

Yeah, I about had a heart attack. There are roughly a thousand things I could say right now but none of them seem to make any sense at the moment. I’ll just stick with this short notification for the blog and perhaps expand on things a bit once things feel a bit more real. Suffice it to say, though, that I’m back in the research loop, digging up little things here and there to add a bit more spit and polish to the final draft.

In the meantime, school will be letting out in about two weeks, at which point I’ll be dedicating my entire summer to writing or writing-related projects. I’ve got edits and additions to make for Teahouse, the back half of Ghostbox to finally write, edits to work on for Kody Boye’s Amorous Things and my chapter contributions to Collaboration With the Dead to scribble out. All this and I’ve begun research on novel number three, which is as of yet unnamed and deals with ghosts in Vietnam.

This summer is going to rock.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Let the Nervousness Commence, Part Deux

Remember the post I made a few months ago about submitting Teahouse?

Something happened with the communication between myself and the publisher, and the manuscript was never read. No big deal, really. He got back to my “Hey, have you gotten around to reading my submission?” email within a day and I resent the file.

Now I have to sit and agonize all over again, though.

I don’t get this way with short stories. I write them, read them over, revise and send them out, often forgetting about them after I’ve recorded them over on Duotrope. If they’re accepted, great. If they’re not, they go out again. I can do this over and over and over and never feel even the slightest pang of anxiety. I know my stuff when it comes to short fiction, and for the most part I’m unshakably confident about my abilities.

With novels? Forget it. I’m riddled with self-doubt and nervousness from the moment I write the first sentence to the time I feel I’m finally ready to send it out into the world. I have zero confidence overall with a novel, even if there are paragraphs here and there (sometimes even whole chapters, believe it or not) that I feel are completely solid.

I can write short stories just fine.
I can whip out flash like nobody’s business.
I can edit the hell out of anything you put in front of me.
I can read, formulate an opinion for and review other writers’ novels with absolutely no trouble.
I can conduct interviews with authors, editors and publishers without a single issue or dull moment.

I cannot write novels without reducing myself to a twitching, nervous wreck.

I used to think that I only needed a bit more experience in writing long fiction before the feeling would fade away, but it hasn’t diminished much at all. Between Teahouse, Rain and now Ghostbox, I still feel like I have absolutely no clue what I’m doing. As a reviewer, I’m handed books all the time. As I read them (and the ones I read simply for pleasure), I notice how each author handles scope, pacing, subplots and all the other things that go into long-form fiction. None of them in any way resemble what I end up throwing down on paper. Compared to most other writers, my own novel-writing efforts feel very sparse, like short stories that have dragged on too long. My own work feels like it lacks the layers characteristic to novels. They feel like they’re nothing but details dictated to the reader in a dull monotone broadcast by a broken, rusting piece of antique machinery.

I do go back to my older work, long after it’s been finished, and reread with a fresh eye. Occasionally I find myself even enjoying it from a detached standpoint, but I always wind up asking myself, “Is this really the way it should have been?” I often find myself wanting to write it differently but completely unable to do so.

I think one of my biggest problems, at least with Teahouse, is that it takes place (in part, at least) at the junction between two cultures, and I’m terrified I’m going to be incorrect with some facts or that my intent is going to be misconstrued. I remember during the beta reader phase when one critiquer told me that involving Japanese characters made me look like an anime fanatic. I wanted to slam my face off my desk. They also, I believe, told me I’d ripped key plot points off a well-known Japanese film, which it only had the most passing of similarities to. A common event (and I mean common - this is the kind of thing that you read about in papers or see on the news frequently) occurs in both stories. Oh, I was furious. I almost changed the entire backstory. That’s how paranoid I became. It’s a good thing I decided against it, but still, what if this happens all over again if/when the book is published? Is it good enough to withstand that kind of nonsense? I don’t know.

I’ve been driving my author buddies, and even some of my non-writer confidantes, nuts with this lately. They shush me and tell me I’m crazy, or that my long fiction is just fine, but I still feel like scrapping it and starting all over most of the time. Every time I update Rain I want to just tank it and forget the project was ever conceived. A little voice inside me constantly pipes up and lets me know it’s probably better to just conclude the story at its logical end and be done with it sans drama, so my little Facebook novel still exists.

I don’t know. I doubt this feeling will ever go away, no matter how many times I finish a novel manuscript. I suppose it’s just one of those weird personality defects that you can never rid yourself of. I will forever be the paranoid novel-writer, no matter how much my skills improve.

I suppose there are worse things I could be, like the horrible writer who doesn’t realize they’re horrible. I think that would be more humiliating in the long run.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Some Updates on the Writerly Front

A lot has been going on behind the scenes lately, though I haven’t had much time to update any of the blogs. Being a college student is both amazing and horribly time-consuming, and this semester’s been one of the hardest of my life so far. Hopefully I’ll be able to keep my head above water for the next month until classes are over, but at least one course is beating me into the ground and another’s been threatening to do so for a while. Only the final grades will tell, I suppose.

I’m still around, still writing here and there and reading when I can. I am woefully behind on other writers’ review copies. My most sincere apologies to anyone offended by my tardiness. Only a few more weeks and I will be tearing through copies from dawn until dusk until I get caught up.

Jason S. Hornsby, author of Every Sigh, the End, recently contacted me with an advance copy of his new novel, Eleven Twenty-Three. I’d been waiting to read this, so being offered a review copy ahead of time was a huge, huge treat for me. I tore through it and, honestly, I think I enjoyed this one even more. The review went up a few days ago, and if all goes well (and I hope it does), I may be on the cover as a blurb. I’ve never been approached for a blurb before, let alone by someone whose work I’ve already enjoyed, so needless to say if this goes through I’ll be incredibly stoked.

Derek Goodman’s new short story collection, Machina, featured a blurb for his novel The Apocalypse Shift written by yours truly. It’s credited to, the site I wrote the review for, but knowing my opinion meant enough to transition into an official recommendation warms my little heart.

I managed to snag an eleventh hour position on the roster of a collaborative project. It’s a novel detailing the zombie apocalypse, and I’m thrilled to have been given the opportunity to participate. Some of the other writers are editors of mine, so I’ll be in great company. I’m writing chapters #6 and #25. More details as they emerge.

My buddy (and spiritual baby brother - really, he’s just that awesome) Kody Boye’s asked me to edit his short story collection Amorous Things. This is my first big editing job, and I’m excited as all get out. He’s got a bit of work left to do before he turns it over, so I should be taking up the mantle of editor just as the semester lets out. I am so excited to be a part of this. Kody’s a great guy and an awesome writer, and being asked to edit for him is a great honor. He recently turned eighteen and I had tons of fun sending him presents and dirty cards full of penis-shaped confetti. When he shows up at the Horror Realm convention this year, Pittsburgh’s going to become exponentially cooler, at least for a few days.

My own novels in progress, Rain and Ghostbox, have been put on hold so I can focus on schoolwork. I’ve outlined the next six or seven chapters of Ghostbox, though, and I’m incredibly eager to find the time to write it all out. Seriously, this story is going to rock. I’m still in love with it after all these months, which is rare, considering how I’m the first in line to bash my own ideas. I can’t wait to finish this and start polishing the hell out of it. It’s the best thing I’ve ever written. Once I’m done I’m going to have to find a way to top myself, which isn’t going to be easy. As far as Rain goes, I’m still on the fence with that one. I have days where I think there’s something fun and salvageable in it somewhere, and I have days when I want to tank every chapter. They alternate, and so I can never truly decide how I feel about it. I know I probably won’t ever try this little experiment again, though. Once is enough.

I’ve been addicted to electronic cigarettes since Eric bought me a set for Christmas. I’ve since moved on to something way bigger and more powerful, and I’m fully immersed in the world of custom e-juices and mods. Smoking was never this much fun, and it never tasted like chocolate and coconuts.

I bought an iPad by convincing myself I needed it to “work.” I haven’t found the time to read review copies on the go or do much word processing beyond taking notes in class yet, but hoo boy is playing mahjongg solitaire and checking my email fun as hell now.

I need to go do that now. If I don’t check my email every half hour on my iPad, I start twitching. It’s about time to refresh.