Fiction Writing and Other Oddities

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Writers and Resiliency

Okay, it took me roughly two and a half days to cut bait and let my four historical mysteries and plots for 4 more sink beneath the surface of the waves. I can't say that I'm not casting longing glances back over my shoulder at them, nor can I say that some small part of me isn't hoping that my agent can sell the ones she's still flogging, but I've cut that line. I'm just having a little issue with it tangling around my ankles, trying to pull me under the waves with it. Or them. (That darn grammar stuff--sheesh.)

I guess I'm either a writer or masochistic to have already decided not to let those really sincere rejections stop me. Are all writers masochistic? I think some have to be. No matter how many blows I take and how many times very knowledgeable people in the publishing industry try ever-so-gently to tell me that my concepts are not fit for barnyard animals, I keep coming back for more. "More please," she says, holding out her empty bowl.

"Hit me again. Please. But harder this time, because I didn't quite get the message before."

Oh, but how I envy my critique partner who decided one sunny day to write a historical, finished it, sent it off to a handful of agents, signed with the agent, and got the book published without any visible effort or angst. All without breaking into a cold, smelly sweat. Magic does happen for some, don't think that it doesn't. Not all writers are full of tales of woe and rejection.

Does that mean that she has more talent than I do? I honestly can't say. She's also a member of Mensa. She's undoubtedly smart. She does write very well, and she has lovable characters. Is that the answer? If it's not the answer, it is certainly a major, well-heeled constituent.

But enough about talking about other people. This is about me and my angst as a writer.

So, now that I've thrown away all the work I've done for the last five or six years (who's counting?) what will I work on now? I'm not really sure. I'm still drawn to mysteries. They are probably 80% of what I read.

If I can't write historical mysteries, then what about contemporary? Ummm. I'm not sure. I need a different angle, I mean, that's what I loved about the historical ones I was writing - I had this framework all worked out with the "Second Sons, Discreet Inquiries" detective agency and the stories written as Tales with a terminal twist...

I've got a vampire tale "with a terminal twist" that I might try on the contest circuit. I wrote it as a change of pace and to "cleanse my palette" after writing so many historical mysteries. My agent isn't too keen on that radical a "change of venue" and paranormals can be a tough sell, but you never know. It's one possibility, so I'm editing the heck out of the first few chapters and hope to send it to some contests in April to see what the general populace think about it. If it goes over like week-old fish, I'm not going to agonize over it. Well, that's probably a lie, and it'll probably be in a future blog, but I'm not planning on agonizing over it.

What else can I do? My brain is a little rusty on contemporary stuff, but maybe something along the lines of a chick-lit mystery. I've tried dark/gritty and I just can't do that. I'd love to be able to write something that Hard Case Crime would publish (I've been reading ALL their books the last few months) but I just can't get that Scumbag Noir flavor into my writing. It comes out more like a mildly depressed P.G. Wodehouse trying to imitate Raymond Chandler. Too weird for words. And I'm probably giving my writing too much credit to even mention Wodehouse and Chandler in a paragraph which is tainted by references to my writing.

Okay, enough self-deprecation. I'm not being paid enough to beat myself up for longer than a few minutes at a time.

I'm going to send that darn vampire thing out to as many contests as I can afford, starting in April.
Then, I'm going to get to work on something contemporary. Something with some dead bodies. Something with a chick-lit tone, maybe, and a few con men perhaps, even though they are sort-a more 1940's than 2006. There is no way I'm going to write something without something dead in it. On that one point I shall stand firm. I mean, I know people are telling me to write romance, but I'm afraid my idea of romance doesn't completely coincide with the rest of America's idea of romance. My concept is...

You're sitting next to this big, hulking guy who you suddenly realize isn't so bad. He notices you noticing him, which you can tell by the kind of half-smile on his face while he watches the made-for-television movie on tv. You assume the smile isn't in response to the good guy's sidekick just getting blown away by the bad guy's sawed-off shotgun.

Suddenly, he puts down his beer and glances over at you, and you realize a commercial just started.
He says, "You wanna?"
"Wanna what?"
"Do stuff?" he asks, waggling his brows at you.
"Oh, sure." You put down your beer, too, and you rip off each other's clothing and you do stuff.

Then, this being a romance, you're lucky enough to have both your beers--which are still ice cold and almost full (this being a romance)-- sitting there when you're done, and the commercials are over so you didn't miss any of the movie.

Now, that's romance.

Hmmm. Maybe I really could write Scumbag Noir in a chick-lit kind of tone, except when my characters are done doing stuff they find a dead body laying in front of the tv. Good Grief, just think what the crime lab/CSI folks could find at THAT crime scene. It almost makes me shudder...with glee.

Maybe I should talk to my agent first though, so she won't think I've gone completely nutso on her. Geeze, I hope she doesn't read my blog, or she'll already know that I'm completely nutso and that I wa-a-a-ay over-react when she forwards those polite e-mail rejections to me.

Well, that might be good for her to know. Lower her expectations. I like low expectations. You can only go up once you're down!

1 comment:

Sonja Foust said...

Heehee, I like your s-e-x scene. You should totally put that in one of your books. Okay, well, not really. But I still like it.