Monday, April 09, 2007

The Novel

My current life-project is that I'm writing a novel. I have other interests - like art, rock climbing and physics - but this is the one I'm ignoring social opportunities for at the moment.

I'm actually finished the beastie but am editing it. And the edit is more like a complete re-write, because after I 'finished' it the first time, I had the good fortune to notice (after a few blissful weeks of euphoric preening over the fact that *I!* *Wrote!* *A Book!*) that my book sucked like a starving lamprey on a rhino's butt.

Okay, it wasn't that bad, but it sure wasn't publishable yet. Riting iz teh hard.

I think it is publishable now - and after spending two years on it, I'm certainly ready to pat its silky head and send it toddling off into the world. Plus I've got some yummy new ideas buzzing around my brain.

I'm calling this book a fantasy, although a more accurate description is science fantasy. It's going to weigh in at about 80,000 words when I'm finished, or 320 pages. I've slung the opening scene around a few critique sites already, so I may post here as well, but I'll probably wait until I'm actually querying agents before I do that.

Since I have die-hard love of being opinionated, I'll list my top three bites of advice for would-be authors (those pathetic sniveling dreamers like, y'know, me):

(1) Get started, already, ya deadbeat. Wanting to write a book is a very common dream; something like 97% of the population says they'd like to write a book someday, and only about 3% actually manage it. You have to fight to not be in the larger statistic. Write a bit every day, even if it's only a hundred words, and if you can't actually write every day, then do something writing-related everyday. Write or plot or brainstorm ideas.

(2) You have a lot of work to do. There are no child prodigies when it comes to novel writing; everyone who succeeds at it had to spend a bunch of time learning how not to suck. You may be a born storyteller, but you too will have to learn to write well. Read novels and analyse why they work. Read books on how to write well. Join a few online critique groups (and be aware that some critique groups are fucking useless; this is why I say join a few - not just one). Commit to the idea that no matter how good you are, there is always room for improvement and you're not a professional unless you always strive to become better.

(3) And finally, the reality check: writing is exactly like every other form of the arts. The superstars make a lot of money and everyone else needs a day job (or a very supportive spouse) to get by. You will never get rich at this. (Okay, you might, but it's less likely than getting struck by lightning and you don't plan for that, do you? Just pretend it's not a possibility, so you can be pleasantly surprised by any success you do attain.)

Oh, yes; and the zeroth (0) bit of advice: Read Miss Snark. She's brilliant, funny and veryveryvery informative.

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