How can I tell if my writing is any good? It's hard, because the plot, the words, the characters don't have any element of surprise for me.
A joke makes us laugh because we didn't expect the punchline. Mysteries surprise us because we didn't know who's responsible.
When you write them, you know what's going to happen. When you revise them twelve times, every word starts to seem rote and trite.
Sometimes you revise it just to make it fresh, when what you had was perfectly fine.
Ever gone to a concert and your favorite singer is doing weird things to their famous songs, when you thought they were fine as they were? Who wants a version of "Dirty Deeds" that's a ballad? But these rockers are singing the same songs for thirty years. It must feel like chewing cardboard to them.
Maybe my current novel-in-progress really isn't any good, or maybe I've just read it too many times and have to move on to the next chapter.
Three writerly things that are plaguing me right now
1. This is in Publisher's Lunch today: "Welcome, new adult books. With six 'new adult' deal reports in the last month alone, we have created a new Deals sub-category for this growing genre. (You'll see it in the Fiction sub-category drop-down menu as well when using our deal report form.)" Oh, the pressure! I have a few projects in the works that happen to fit the new adult category...so do I rush on them because this is a genre that's getting very hot, and potentially miss out on the chance to think them through and shade them more and make the better? Or do I work on them for a while so they're top quality, but miss the window of opportunity? Actually, it seems like this genre is on the way up right now. Which means it actually may be hotter in a few months. I think it will explode this summer and still keep going strong for a while. I take most books slow. I think they're at their best if I work on them when inspired. I keep a few projects going at once so I can take a break from one and work on another. New adult will be around for a while. I thought the vampire trend wouldn't last so long...and it's still going. 2. Over-revising the beginning of my favorite novel-in-progress I keep revising the beginning. I always do that. It sets the tone for the whole book. But by revising it so many times, it loses its surprise, and I begin to think it's bland and flavorless. It doesn't affect me anymore. I have the urge to change it a lot now. Is that because it needs it, or because I've lost objectivity? 3. So many ideas, so little time.
Near the park, there's an area of former factories that got converted into condos. I love the big, boxy windows and brick walls. I like to imagine what this neighborhood was like 50 years ago. Here's what it's like now:
...on my Wildwood story below. I wonder if I posted this myself when I was in a trance, or something. Who knew someone else would think of the Douglas fudge dog? Who are you mystery poster?
hello. I was trying to find Carrie Pilby ipad download and stumbled upon your blog. I especially liked reading the post about Wildwood, NJ. My Mom had a boat she kept there every summer up until last year. Good Times Good Times. hee hee and actually my original reason for commenting was to answer the survey question Douglas or Hankin's? I'm a Douglas girl for sure. mmm mmm mmm and the cute Scottie's on the box always makes me smile. Thanks for sharing your stories and can't wait to see the film version of Carrie Pilby. Cheers! on
Famed director Chris Columbus was actually inspired to turn his screenplay-in-progress into a novel after he read books by young Ned Vizzini! Who knew? I just read about it on the Huffington Post.
I think it's interesting because Columbus has been making movies for so many years (like Home Alone) and he was inspired by a guy younger than I am, who was writing stuff about his high school for New York Press when I first came to New York. Columbus is a bit of a wunderkind too, actually. I oughta read the novel.
The first thing you hear in the morning is that piercing double shriek from the seagulls, bouncing off all the concrete walls of the motel. You know you're at the beach. Everything else is silent, except perhaps, if you're close enough, waves crashing.
Wildwood lacks chain motels, so it's likely your family is in one of those cheap motels with big air conditioning units and two floors with metal balconies winding all around. When you went there each summer as a kid, you didn't see anything unusual in the gaudy decor or hotel themes -- the Polynesian with its tikis on the corners or the Pink Panther that was totally pink. You begged your parents to stay at the Royal Hawaiian just because of the plastic atoll in the middle of the pool. You were astounded by the idea that you could swim to your own tiny island.
You looked forward to the trip each year. It was two and a half hours south on the Parkway, in good traffic. Sure, you could get to Asbury in twenty minutes, and that's where you usually went, but Wildwood was special. It was a grid of streets full of souvenir shops, it was the boardwalk, it was the finest feeling sand in the state, it was fudge.
But what you remember most isn't that quarter pound of candy you always bought (Douglas or Hankin's?) or the rounds of mini golf, or the games of chance or the ice cream portions at Duffer's or dinners at Urie's Fish Fry or the cool breeze at sunset and its feeling on your baked body.
What you remember was a time you looked in the opposite direction. Away from the beach.
You must have been older then, 10 or 11. Your motel was off shore, a bit cheaper, and the room faced the city of Wildwood rather than the beach. There was a little balcony, so you sat outside and looked at the small homes, the people who actually got to live in this great resort year-round.
It was one of those days where the air felt so perfect that you wanted to write down the exact temperature and humidity and hope they happened again.
Perhaps it was your future writerly mind at work, but when you looked back at the near and distant homes, you were inspired by two things.
One was the Amercian flags. You counted seven of them. They were flowing gently. Some were far on the horizon, and you wondered about the people in those homes, what inspired their patriotism and what they were doing right then. You couldn't actually see the house or the people, just the flag. Maybe in one yard, people were having a barbecue. Maybe in another, they were hanging clothes out to dry. You liked the idea of seeing signs of life in the distance even though you couldn't see the people or their house. You always wonder about all those lives you see evidence of when you catch a symbol waving in the distance.
You noticed one other symbol from the balcony: a red and white sticker affixed to the cable box down below. You'd similar stickers around town. This one had something to do with patriotism also -- maybe or maybe not, as it appeared to be from an activist group. It said something like, "WAKE UP. LET US BECOME ONE AND SAVE OUR COUNTRY. CAUSA USA" The signs were mysterious. There was no website because there wasn't any commonly used internet in those days, so you didn't really know what this movement was about. But again, you loved the signs of life, the chance to wonder about the people who slapped these stickers all over. Who were they? What was their motivation? Who were they reaching out to by posting these semi-secret signs all over town?
You watched the flags wave and read the stickers and felt like part of an anonymous group of people, made up of all different types who populated a beach town on a perfect day.
The big talk in publishing these days is the emerging genre of "New Adult" fiction. It's fiction for those too old to still read "young adult" books (targeted at adolescents), but not quite in their 30s/40s. Women who liked the "Twilight" series are growing up and looking for more. Combine that with the popularity of "50 Shades of Grey," which features a protagonist who's still in college, and you have a whole subset of literature for women who are 18-25, trying to find their career and perhaps navigate first love (or first painful love) if their prior romantic experience was somewhat innocent. "50 Shades" was actually fan fiction inspired by "Twilight."
Many of the books contain either erotic romance, or supernatural/vampires, or both, but since every book can't be the same, the genre is broadening to include first-person stories about women in those just-starting-out years, with some romance.
I have started writing books, over the years, in that age category, even though they didn't involve vampires or 50 Shades-type extremes. I wished, at the time, there was a market for them. Now that I know the category is broadening, do I try to rush to finish these? I don't get a lot of time to write anyway, but it's hard to ignore the possibilities. I didn't think there was a category for books for that age group...and now there is.
There's also one book I've been working on for a long time that just happens to fall into that age group, but I do not want to rush it, because it's very involved and I want it to be perfect when I send it out.
Anyway, the "New Adult" trend is on the upswing. I'm keeping my eye on it.
This is the trend: 50 Shades of Grey-type stuff, Vampires, self-published stuff in those genres that gets popular. The daily industry newsletter I get, Publishers Lunch, has this in its roundup of recently completed publishing deals:
"Fiction: Women's/Romance Tara Sue Me's fanfiction.net success, first posted in 2009, the Submissive Trilogy, an erotic portrayal of a relationship between a wealthy CEO and a young librarian, beginning with The Submissive, now out as an ebook (with a trade paperback in June), followed by The Dominant in August 2013 and The Training in October 2013, to Claire Zion at NAL, by Red Publishing in Australia, which published the first book down under in 2012 (world).
UK and Australian rights to Headline, in a pre-empt."
When I was a single gal and I was contemplating the frustrations of love, and I couldn't sleep, I used to listen to these two songs. Click the first one, and after, the second one (that one takes a bit to get going). Ball your fists and listen to the raw emotion.
The reviews are in of my French non-Christmas book!
From a French web site:
"So I thought a good little fall on romantic comedy for the Christmas season, and in the end .... pfffffffff
the mash to cry every page ... not the slightest illusion (or so little) Christmas (yet it is in the title, no??) ... even the romance is very far from also be present and interresting ... not very rich dialogues .... the characters are downright soft and difficult to appreciate!"
"I am not attached to this novel, too melodramatic for me. It follows mourning Gret and early reconstruction. She is accompanied by two friends egocentric and horrifying. I wanted to book light happens at Christmas (coverage is not at all content) is missed."
"The story line has not what you might expect I have not seen the reports with christmas sincerely, becausethe story takes place during the winter and spring but not during christmas....I was expecting something else so I was a little disappointed. Even though it remains a very nice book."
For a surprise Hannukah gift, the postman dropped off a box of three books at my old apartment. A neighbor called me to let me know, so I went and picked them up. Apparently I wrote a Christmas book that I didn't even remember writing!
No, seriously, it turns out that this is Starting from Square Two, my 2004 novel, recently translated into French and marketed as a Christmas book. I Googled it and found out that it was just released on Dec. 1. Who knew? The title in French is: Christmas, Love, and Other Annoyances.
That's a great title! Okay, it leaves out that the main character is a young widow, but you can get to that.
Here is a Google translation of the French description of the book:
Who said I need a love coach? I'm 29 and I'm going to spend my first Christmas with single in ten years! Ten years I never went to a bar for a speed dating or that I have not tried to seduce a man . Therefore, it is urgent! My friends, Hallie and Erika, claim that seduction is like riding a bike: it is not forgotten. I have trouble believing them. How to start a conversation? How to look sexy without overdoing it? The problem is that I just met Todd . An unexpected gift : big , cute, a false air of Colin Farrell. Say that I have not found anything else like tactical approach than to mention all the replicas of the Untouchables ! That said, it has seemed to work. So maybe I'm not a hopeless case. Maybe quej'ai still entitled to believe in Santa Claus.
Well, it is a pretty good writeup. I'd read it. They should have said that Todd's a train conductor, though. I never thought of Colin Farrell, but hey, if it sells books, good!