Saturday, 24 October 2015

Musings & just a little venting in Tbilisi

The Surrey International Writers Conference is currently going on and I find myself sorely in need of some positive energy. The kind Robert Dugoni usually brings in bunches. Getting and reading rejection letters are part of every writer’s path. It is part of the business and the trade. This fact doesn’t make it any easier. Being a citizen of the world and away from one’s regular support group compounds the issue. Well, at least Vodka is inexpensive and good in Tbilisi. Relax, my over sensitive readers, it isn’t that bad. But at times it feels that way and at moments like those I reflect on the stories Bob told a few years ago, and will most likely say again to you attending this year. Fill up on those as they will pay as many dividends as any Masters Class. Be positive with one another, and support each other, as we are all the same regardless of the stories we tell. I know it can be difficult but endure.

I recall listening to a writer attendee talk about his Neo-gothic steampunk vampire detective novel. It was set in the last century, but the dialogue was in an abbreviated text form of language. I listened and while most certainly not my genre, interest, or understanding I nodded and was supportive. When someone interjected negatively about the language form, I responded with “It worked for A Clockwork Orange.”

We storytellers (props Rick M) face a very uphill fight. The industry is changing and the audience seems to still be shrinking. Time, our most precious commodity, is fleeting and making the time to read is difficult. I love reading and I can’t get into fiction while I am writing. I reward myself with two weeks of reading time when I finish my first draft. Letting the project sit I let myself enjoy some fiction. Traveling the world and enjoying real books means when I finally got to my copy of The Border it looked like it had been through a war. I enjoyed it immensely and was reminded of the magic of reading once again. Good storytellers can perform this magical feat. It also inspired me to pick up my own MSS and run a critical eye over it again. I re-read sections of Writing 21st Century Fiction by Donald Maass paying close attention to some tension angles and twists. It inspired me to push the envelope of the genre and write a new first chapter. Risky to be sure, but I believe it works better and adds a quirk and a twist reader’s will love or hate. Either way it will generate strong emotions. Currently, it seems to be hated. But lets put this into perspective Agents aren’t really readers. They are quasi-humans descended from the genes of the three-headed dog that guards Hell. As such they guard the gates of literary stardom and obscurity with a fierce voracity. Jaded and judgmental they journey through piles of parchment penned pap, searching for the next STEPHENSeriously they are human. They read our stories with an expert eye to the marketability of our stories. They know the industry and the market. Perhaps in this climate they are less likely to take many risks but, on the whole, they are positive people. I try to remember this fact when I read; “While I liked the characters and theI just don’t think I am the right agent for this project.”

One point of criticism that I will in all seriousness add is hire some of the out of work tech gurus and start accepting PDF attachments. Honestly they could use the work and are pretty cheap these days. I write in Scrivener, on a Mac, and exporting to rich text and fixing all the page breaks, margins, exotic punctuation, and ghost monkeys is more than a little challenging. “Please add in the body of your email three chapterspage margins ofwith pink bows instead of periods and underlines for italics.” I think a correctly written query is enough to let you know if this person is real or not. Then decent antivirus software at the server level should be protection enough. Bring the PDF down to an Ipad for continued reading if you think the risk is too great. Imagine reading projects formatted and easy on the eyes? Nirvana right? If you have made the decision to spend four hours reading an MSS then surely the expenditure of two hundred bucks for an old Ipad is minuscule for the combined ease to you and writer alike. I wonder how many great writers get slush piled because they sent an email with difficult to read content?

  I have been making new friends here in Tbilisi and enjoying the country of Georgia. Inga and I have been helping out friends that run a place called The English Language Club. It is a great little club that does English language training and asked if we’d come and tell the kids about Canada. It was a hit and everyone had a great time learning. Me included!

No comments:

Post a Comment