Enjoy the Silence

Today was a day spent working on the book. Unfortunately when I sent off my sample first ten pages the other day, I realized all too late that there were a glaring number of mistakes. The prose could have been a lot cleaner than it was. So, I started a third draft on the first few chapters and made a lot of progress with that. Tomorrow will be some more edits and probably some paid writing.

I had watched a movie from the early 2000s called Stay. I had seen it once before, a very long time ago when I was first married. I didn’t realize it was a Marc Benioff story, you know one of the guys who wrote the Game of Thrones series (including the last season when they really took a nosedive with that–to their credit, they were going off the notes of a guy who likely won’t even finish the story). The movie was good, but like those late 90s early 00s movies, it was very trippy and typical of the time. Very arthousey. I looked up the director and saw that he was only 32 at the time. It’s hard to believe now that they would just give a person that young millions of dollars, some very talented actors (Ewan MacGregor, Ryan Gosling, and Naomi Watts) and just let them run loose with this crazy ass movie like that. I don’t think anything like that could happen today.

At around 10pm, I had a black coffee, but wished I had some whiskey to drink instead. Other than a beer with dinner a few days ago, I haven’t had any whiskey in a couple weeks. Unfortunately, I have reached a point in my life where I’m just very “meh” to it. I get no enjoyment out of it. Or much of anything. Maybe last summer. Yes, that was the last time. Before that, it was probably the trip with my son and my mom to Oregon.

I know a lot of my readers might wonder what the hell I’m grumbling about. I mean I wrote a book (a very, very long book). That’s something to get excited about, right? Writing a book is a lot like having a baby. You should be excited. Everyone else is excited. But you know that the real work is just starting. Writing the book is the fun part. The edits, the queries, writing synopses, the doubt, the rejection…all of those sorta suck. And judging from re-reading the sample chapters I sent to an agent the other day, I am anticipating a rejection soon. In a way, it’s like having a baby too, only everyone you show it off to looks at it and says, “Does he smack himself in the head like that all the time?”

So, right now, I’m just “meh.” You spend all that time writing a book and you know that someone is going to read it and remind you that there is absolutely nothing special about it. And yeah, I do know that most people don’t even make it this far. It’s cold comfort.

I did take the time to do some new writing tonight. I wrote a nice, beautiful scene and then started another one. I don’t think these scenes will go into later drafts of this book. If anything, I think they are for the next project. This one will be about my relationship with cars and road trips. I have plenty of material to pull from on this subject. An entire lifetime really.

Right now, I’m writing this, listening to Portishead and Massive Attack. And yes, a little Depeche Mode. As well as my dog snoring in her chair in my writing room. I think lately I’m coming to terms with the fact that I’m living what they call an “alternative lifestyle.” I don’t make much money. I don’t punch a clock. I’m up here in the middle of nowhere making art and trying to get my dreams off the ground. Relationshipwise, I am an Untouchable, and I’m fine with that these days. I feel like I am a much better writer now than I’ve ever been, but there are still those doubts that it still isn’t good enough. But I’m the one the story chose to tell it, so I have no choice. It’s either that or go crazy up here.

I’m going to read for a while and see if that helps shut my brain up. Otherwise I’m going to worry myself to death about whether or not I hammered home one of the themes in my book.

A Good Day

Tonight is a two Cup Noodles night. It’s 11pm and I just finished my paid post and an edited post for the night. In a way, I feel productive and I’m hoping they sell because I haven’t had much in the ways of being productive this week due to circumstances. My hometown decided to use Tuesday and Wednesday to fix an 80 year old pipe in the center of town and had to have the water shut off, so I made myself scarce from the house for a couple days. It’s difficult to get a lot done when you don’t have running water.

The only bummer about that was it didn’t seem like my house was one of the ones affected by it, so it was kind of pointless to be away. Other than the obvious of everybody deserves a little time off.

Over the last couple of days, I have also been working on a synopsis, query letter, and the rest of the submission package for the book. With all of that in place, I submitted my book to a literary agency, one of the ones that liked my last book but just didn’t feel confident they could find a home for it. It was hard to let go of the book because even the first ten pages just looked like a bunch of junk in spots. Believe me, I could work and rework this a hundred times, but it was ready to head out the door. Otherwise I could be at this for years and I know myself when I say that it will never be perfect.

I’m tired tonight, which is a good thing. I think my insomnia might be linked to whether or not I feel like I have made good use of the day. The more accomplished I feel, the better I sleep.

I heard something hilarious today too. Apparently my ex-wife thought I somehow bought a conversion van. Once again, she has shown me that whatever fantasy she creates about my life is exponentially more exciting than reality. If only she had that much faith in me when we were married, who knows where I might have turned up.

As much of an accomplishment sending my book out might sound like to the uninitiated, believe me when I say that it is really just another step. Before I had the book done, but since I’ve been down this road before, I know just how many miles I have to go. I can expect MANY rejections. Luckily for me, I’ve gotten pretty bulletproof over those throughout the years. You just have to keep trying. Fall down 37 times. Get up 38.

What I do appreciate is that most people never make it this far in the writing process, and here I’ve done it again. In 2016 I decided to try my hand at Graduate School. It had been 18 years since I had been in a classroom. So much was different, such as the technology, the online portions of the lectures, the supplimentals, and then there was the stuff that hadn’t changed, like force-feeding students Marxism as “literary theory.” I burned out pretty quickly and told myself this:

If I were in the MFA program at a university, the metric of getting a terminal degree in my field would be writing a book. I had already published a book. Every book after that would just be another Master’s or Ph.D. I’m happy with finishing three books in two years. I don’t need to go back to school. It is an accomplishment.

However, it would be nice to get paid to do it. (Of course if I was enrolled in a degree program, I would be paying them).

Anyway, I’m tired, so I’m going to scoot off to bed. Tomorrow is another day. Another submission. And hopefully pick up some more work.

Synopsis

Today I worked on the synopsis and query letter for my book. The synopsis is a little long, at about 4,000 words, but it covers the whole plot and a number of sub-plots. The query captures the essence of the story. Both will be a good guide as far as getting a second and third draft done, and maybe in the meantime I can get some traction on submitting the book to agents and publishers.

Breaking everything down has been very helpful and goes a long way to helping me realize that the story is actually coherent, with a plot and everything. One of the biggest things to help me out was reading episode synopses for Mad Men episodes. It’s still weird for me to write a story that doesn’t involve dragons or swordfights.

I suspect the next book will be a little easier since I have a better idea of plotting and how I want the story to be laid out. Yes, I’ve already got another idea in the works for the next book. It’s the same world, just a different theme and earlier in the main character’s life.

Though a part of me kinda wants to go back to the fantasy world I was working in for years. I think this book took precedence just because it was a story demanding to be told. It’s an important story too. I just hope it picked the right person to tell it.

Today, April 28th, my daughter Honour (or whatever she is calling herself these days) turns 19. I haven’t seen her since Sept. 17, 2018. I miss all those times she climbed up the sides of mountains and rock walls in dresses. Hearing that pure voice singing in her room. I miss all those nights driving and singing to Mix #2. All those days she drew and drew and drew on the iPad. I don’t miss watching her destroy herself. I miss the hell out of her every day, but I hope she has found peace. Grandma and Grandpa miss her too. I hope she can go out on her own and find a full and rewarding life.