Friday, February 24, 2006

Ugh, writing.

I'm in a bad mood.
I tried to critique someone recently on www.critiquecircle.com. It was about as enjoyable as an enema.
This writer, and I use that term loosely, said she'd been published in a couple magazines and was a serious ecrivant. "Hey," I thought, "the perfect person to critique, perhaps they can return the favour and have something useful to add to my work."
Reading her work was torture. Based on her credentials, I spent a few minutes thinking her writing would improve.
On CC, you have to keep objective when you critique someone else. You can't come out and say, "This really sucks." or, "Are you in kintergarten, because you write like a five year old." Even though I was tempted like never before. After every paragraph, I wanted to say something about how much her story sucked.
There was NO conflict. Zero. It was like reading the dialogue between two of the most boring people in the world talking about how they watched paint drying all day. No-Conflict girl needs to read a few books on how to write. According to -"How to write a damn good novel" by James N. Frey, there are three elements to a good novel. Conflict, conflict and conflict.
Aside from the conflict, the constant mistakes made me want to bang my head against the monitor.

Since I'm being nasty, I've recently run across someone who claims their writing is damn good. They can't possibly understand why they aren't getting published and are being rejected again and again and again. Even after writing twelve books. They said there must be something wrong with the industry.
I'll give you a little hint. YOUR WRITING SUCKS
I don't claim to be a damn good writer. Sometimes people who read my work think I am, but they don't know squat. I suck too, and I will continue to suck and be a writing nobody until I get this book published. Then, I will claim to be a writer, a published writer. If I make a New York Times "This is a wonderful book quote." I might consider claiming that I am a good writer.
If I hit the best seller list with five books in a row, have a fan base like Stephen King and agents throwing themselves at me like Monica Lewinsky would to a president. Then I'll claim to be a damn good writer.
But until then - I SUCK TOO


But not nearly as bad as no-conflict girl.

Yesterday's journal and this morning's thoughts.

I started writing this last night, but got a big hug from my wife that interrupted me. I never did finish what I started.

Writing wise - another semi-successful day yesterday. I missed out by a few pages, but got ahead in my critiquing on CC. I aim for about eleven crits per week and rewriting/editing ten pages per day. So things are on target as I've done seven crits in three days. The critique circle works on a Wednesday to Wednesday cycle.

After recovering from the devestation of seeing Canada lose to Russia in Olympic hockey on Wednesday, I pulled myself together and headed to the local arena last night for pickup hockey: Yes, there is an arena here in Rabat, Morocco. The one thing missing from my life arrived here about six months ago in a big shopping mall. It costs about ten US to play for two hours. But it was cancelled yesterday due to some holiday and is scheduled for next Tuesday instead.

Even more than the shackles of being married for almost a year now, writing this book has controlled my life like a sluggish and uncertain investment. One which I'm too stubborn to pull out of. I'm not willing to quit until I'm successful - having put nearly two years into writing it.
My wife made me make a timeline yesterday, and if I stick to it, I should be finished the book in early June. Which means I should start querying agents sometime in April.

That's all folks!

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Goal Setting

I've tried this before, but it always seems to fall apart at some point, usually after the first failed goal. I plan to work on so many pages, or do so many critiques of other people's work in a day. Knock on wood, I started yesterday and it's actually going well so far.
I have a flip calendar in front of me and have my goals written down for each day. I tick them off as I accomplish them. I need some lunch, then it's time to stop playing with my blog and get the other half of today's work done.

TTFN

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Daily Journal

I had a good day today, accomplishing all of my goals save for a review of my Moroccan curse story - which was last on the list.
I've still got to wrap up the last of a critique as well.
Put gas in the car, went out with Siham to the American club for dinner and later watched Canada lose in olympic hockey to Russia.
Bloody Russians.

Two tips for wannabe writers

My first tip is, unless you are seriously committed to becoming a better writer, is to give up now. Without 100% committment, you will be bound for disappointment. And even if you are 100% committed, you are still probably bound for disappointment.
My second tip, and listen carefully - www.critiquecircle.com
I'm only familiar with a handful of writer improvement websites, but this one is by far the most comprehensive. It has, and continues to be my most powerful tool in improving as a writer and I would be nowhere near the writer I am today without the help of the people who frequent this website.
It starts by you critiquing others. Then, you submit your work and let others critique it. The more people you critique, the more who critique you in return. It's also free!
In fact, for me it's a work process. I get my critiques in, gain enough to post my work each week, and get other people's critiques in return.
It's also got forums where you can ask questions, discuss character development, plot, other aspects of writing, or just vent about being rejected by yet another agent.
Happy writing.

What makes it special?

Nine months into starting my first book, my third rejection from an agent had just arrived in the mail and the pressure from everyone from my girlfriend to my family to my investment advisor was piling on. The savings were running out and I'd spent two years travelling and another year trying to write a book about the travels, only to get it rejected right away, again and again.
So I called up an editor, wanting to send her my work for an appraisal. She sounded well into her seventies over the phone and seemed cynical about anyone wanting to become an author. And well she should have been, with 99% of wannabe authors writing unpublishable books, she was trying to tell me what I was up against.
Her question caught me off guard though. "What makes your book special? Why would someone want to publish YOUR book?"
I fumbled for an answer, what makes my book special?
"
Well," I said, "It's about a journey from Cape Town to Britain in a Beach Buggy."
She sounded angry. "That's not very special, thousands of people make long journeys all the time, unless your Michael Palin, nobody's going to give a damn if you write about it."
The conversation ended shortly later and I was slightly shaken. She was right, you needed an angle or something special to get published in the travel market.
So, what makes my book special?
It was a very important question, but the problem is, there are a lot of things which make it special. But she wanted to hear something I could write on the back of a business card, a catch phrase which makes a publisher jump out of their shoes and want to CHECK OUT this writer.
So I toyed with different sentences, changing the name of the book to Beach Buggy Safari.

Beach Buggy Safari - Three continents, twenty countries, deserts, bandits, terrorists, harrowing breakdowns and a thousand more challenges.

Beach Buggy Safari - After being shot at, threatened by terrorists and broken down a hundred times. The beauty and ugliness of Africa and the Middle East comes alive when a quirky car draws attention.

Beach Buggy Safari - Herbie meets War Torn Africa. A man's love-hate relationship with his funky car, and the continent of Africa.