Of course, as a middle-aged man, I no longer want to grow up to be Spider-manRead More
So, I'm a semi-finalist for the Del Sol Press Prize for First Novel. I'm pretty happy about that. Like most writers, I'm so used to rejection letters that I mostly just hope to get friendly ones. That makes this a really big deal to me.
Not many people are buying "Piggyback to the End of the World" as an e-book. It even comes free with the trade paperback, but no one seems terribly interested in even the free copy.
Why do you suppose that is? Sure, everyone likes a real book. I do too. I also like being able to carry a whole shelf of books in my pocket.
So, where are you, mysterious people who like a good e-book? How do I find you?
Ya know, this television thing is getting good. What's it taken, fifty, sixty years?
The Americans finished up recently and I finished watching it last night. Damn I love a good espionage story. There are so few of them. I think the trick is, it takes a long time to tell a story about spies. Movies can't quite do it. It takes novels, comics or television, but movies seem to try it more often than anyone else.
The other trick is, what makes a good spy story isn't what the spy is doing, but what it takes to be a spy.
The Americans digs so deeply into the complexities of being a decent person who has to do terrible things, presumably for a greater good, but a greater good that is awfully far away. There is no character in the show that doesn't break your hearty a little.
The story takes five season. It ends, because stories end, but it ends the way chapters of a life end. The lives of all involved have to keep going the way real lives do. We endure the past while facing an uncertain future, wondering if we did the right thing.
It makes me want to write a spy story. I'm not sure I have the ability. I don't have a particularly deep understanding of international politics, and what I do know keeps me up at night, so maybe that won't happen.
In any case, stop reading this and go watch The Americans if you haven't already. I kind of have to re-watch it. Spy stuff always has lots of little details I miss the first time around, so I spend a good amount of time not really knowing what's going on, but liking it anyway. Much like the rest of my life.
Hmm. If you miss the Americans you might want to check out a comic series (It's been published as collections too) called Queen and Country. It won an Eisner award and it too is a great spy story.
I've been either painting or writing for about thirty years now. The hard part has always been marketing.
It takes time to make a story. It takes focus and a kind of layering of thoughts. Ideas are reworked and pushed into new shapes that fit the puzzle better. The first words written get rewritten and cut up into something that hopefully flows a little better than a blog post might. It's exhausting and frustrating and it all has to happen while life goes on.
Children need to get to all the places they need to go. (How can a three year old have such a full schedule?), the dog needs reassurance that he is important, dinner needs making and dishes need doing. All of that takes time, yes, but more importantly it occupies the mind and soaks up energy. That's if nothing goes wrong. If things go wrong, if there's chest pain or a tree lies down on the car, time evaporates and the thought of creating anything at all, much less a whole book, becomes something alien.
I've been creating things under the harsh conditions that all humans deal with for over thirty years. (I know I look young. Like Batman, I've aged phenomenally). I can do that.
What I'm not good at is marketing under those same conditions.
I enjoy it to a degree. I like making the websites anyway. The problem is, it just sucks the energy right out of me. An hour of sorting out how to market my book, combing through other author's suggestions, feels like four hours of work at my day job. I spent an afternoon writing to literary blogs to ask them to review my book. I got through twenty of them. I received two responses. One agreed, one turned me down.
An entire afternoon to get one review.
That's time I'd rather spend writing.
Honestly, I'm not doing this for the money. I'd like some money, just out of recognition of the effort I've put into making something, but it doesn't have to be a lot. When I was a painter I was always happy to sell a painting at all and didn't quibble much over how much it went for, provided it wasn't an insult to the time and effort I'd put in. I feel the same way about writing.
Where am I going with this? I'm not sure.
I think, I am looking for simple ways to let people find my work. I need ways that don't involve countless hours writing to blogs or agents. Ideally, places I can just place a link, or better yet, a cover image, and let it be seen.
So, I'm reading The Witcher books. (Polish fantasy books. There's a big old video game that took the world by storm a few years ago, so I'm just discovering it recently, because I'm always way behind on these things. Give it a google if you don't know what I'm talking about)
I'll tell you right now, I'm not a fantasy guy. I'm not big on vast political stories of imaginary lands, magical McGuffins,or authors who describe exactly how attractive every female character who walks across the page is or isn't.
The Witcher, to one degree or another, is all of these. I'm liking it in spite of that, mostly because it is doing something I like and don't see much of.
The stories are, mostly, small. They're about characters stuck in a world they don't have much control over. Politics are whirling around them and screwing up their lives, but they won't be slaying any evil kings and setting it all straight. They'll just muddle along like everyone else.
The stories are about their lives, more or less.
Rather than tell a story of a monster being slain, you're just as likely to get on that picks up immediately after a monster is dead. The real challenge is that the love of your life has two loves of her own life, or you want to save someone who really wants to destroy themselves.
There are plenty of fantasy elements, but they're used to tell the stories of the characters, not the stories of the magic doohickey or dragon.
Way more interesting than walking across the realm to throw a magic ring in a volcano if you ask me.
Also, it does all kinds of nifty, Easter egg type things with polish folklore and Grimm's fairy tales. And, the writer has this quality to his writing that makes it all seem a little like a play. I like that.
Well, that took a while. I decided to continue to be sick and neglect all other things. I'm still sick. Also, I've had two hours of sleep out of the last 36.
That said, I think you should probably watch Legion. It's like Stanley Kubrick decided to calm down and do a little television. I'm not certain, but according to my too tired brain it even uses a bit of the old Helvetica Black.
One thing I particularly enjoy is that it takes place in a larger universe. I won't spoil which one, but I love fictional universes.
There’s a first time for all things, and those times are usually awkward. Awkward doesn’t always mean terrible. It’s not uncommon for firstness to elevate the moment. The strangeness of the new, and the exhilaration of discovery can blow right through the fumbling that comes with lack of experience. Maybe it was your first real kiss, the first time you held a baby, or the first time you out ran the police that flipped your switch. It doesn’t matter what the specifics were. If you have a pulse, you've had a few first, awkward, wonderful experiences.
This is my first blog post. My first kiss was so much better than this. This is more like the first time I flew in a plane. I was fifteen, alone, and headed for North Carolina with a brief stop in Pittsburgh.
That said, at least I gave you an excuse to reminisce about some great, personal first for a couple seconds. That had to be kind of nice.
Also, my first flight did lead to my first kiss, so that worked out pretty well too. Now that I think about it, it lead to all kinds of firsts, including the first time I nearly died.
In future posts I’ll be writing about writing, probably. I think. New projects, maybe. Why the hell I even bother with this, almost certainly. My life might fit in there somewhere too. Who knowns?
In any case, come by and keep reading. Say a few words if you like.
I hope your day treats you well.