Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Finishing touches

Tap tap tapping on the keyboard, carefully plotting, finishing.. My book completed, fine-tuned and polished, I tapped once again for good measure. I reformatted my manuscript so it will be prepared for reading by the right people who have the right connections. Sure, I've had the wrong people with no connections read it. They responded with glowing remarks and asked for more. They "got it" and assured me that I had what it took to create a best selling book. As an added bonus, they weren't even related to me. They were random readers who fit into the niche of those who love a good allegory or fantasy type story. Those who owned bookshelves full of offbeat novels, Sci Fi and intellectual genres made for the offbeat, intelligent reader. They even belonged to offbeat clubs and subscribed to weird periodicals. There are aficionados for all interests. Those who love Star Wars, scrap booking, Star Trek, Science Fiction in general, Quantum Physics and the list goes on to infinity. We are all vibrational beings tuned into specific pursuits and special interests. There are those who seek and those who offer....some do both.
My latest book is about a specific type of bird with a specific type of personality. He is intelligent and always seeking enlightenment. Original...maybe not the idea in general but the story as a whole...why yes it is.
The book I am beginning is about an abandoned child raised by an unusual sort of individuals. It is a cross between a Tim Burton movie and a humorous take on the family.
I've also written two youth chapter books. It stars a certain bird (not the same one). He travels into other dimensions with a group of kids.
I've copyrighted them just to make them real to me. I know there is a reader out there who just might like my stories. I think I shall persevere. People need me...and so do I.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Blue Moon

Once in a blue moon I decide to stop and take inventory of things. What things you ask? Life, stuff and the occasional random thought. I was told when I was very young, "Just wait till you grow up." or "You'll feel different when you're older." I've been waiting, you know, to feel all grown up and it still hasn't happened completely. Maybe there's something wrong with me. The "old" gene was missing or something. Alas, my body has no problem growing older but my mind, spirit, who I am is still a kid. Having raised one kid and started on a second ten years ago, I found it amusing that I could play with toys by saying "they're my kid's." What shall I do once my second offspring grows up? I guess I'll always be hopelessly young at heart. I still love to skate, go to amusement parks, ride the biggest roller coasters and go down the steepest water slides. I still get looks when I swing at the park. I bought a trampoline for myself...uh, I mean my kid, yeah that's right. What joy it is to defy gravity, if only slightly. The wind in my hair as I spring up into the sky, only to fall with great buoyancy to the springy surface. If I've heard it one time I've heard it a thousand, "You should act your age." Apparently someone forgot to give me the "age manual". Since I don't have the rule book, then should I act my age by observing others my age? That would be quite a task considering not everyone acts the same. Sure, they follow specific fashion do's and don'ts, but overall they all have different hobbies. Hmmm, I should take up scrap booking, gardening or cooking? Uggh! I like to eat, not so much the cooking part. Scrap booking is fun but way too much time and money I would prefer to use elsewhere. I love a beautiful garden as long as someone else tends to it. Plants seem to know that I am unable to devote a large portion of my time on them. Instead of waiting interminably for me (and dying a slow death), they resign themselves to the fact that a quick suicide is the answer.
So, I look at my life and my things and realize that I somehow missed the whole adult part. I work and write and pay my bills but that's the most adult thing I do. In my free time, outside of writing, I read old comic book collections, fantasy and sci fi books, go to nerdy conventions, jump, run and play. I write odd poems and books which still haven't connected with the right agent and enjoy watching funny shows.
I know that there is an agent out there who wakes up, gets a cup of tea, puts on a long black jacket and heads to the office in an old building full of interesting dark things. This agent opens query after cheery query letter hoping to find the one writer who truly understands Edward Gorey, Tim Burton and David Lynch movies. The writer who feels and lives in her own fantasy world of strange and wondrous things. This agent, picks up such a letter and smiles weakly. He pushes back his long dark bangs and hopes, maybe just maybe this is just such a writer. He snuffs out the candles burning slowly on the candelabra above his ancient desk and mails his response. This is the stuff which dreams are made.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Bats and thoughts

Twinkle, twinkle, little bat How I wonder what you're at! Up above the world you fly, Like a tea tray in the sky. Twinkle, twinkle—Lewis Carrol

On Neil Gaiman's journal, he put up a video of his bat intruder. Neil, if no one knows, is a graphic novelist, fantasy writer and gothic teller of tales. He's had movies and is having more movies adapted from his work. As I mentioned in a previous rant, he is also an animal lover. He rescued a dog just recently and was able to keep him due to the fact that the owner didn't want him. He already has cats which took to the dog in various stages of interest. I was glad to see that he wasn't put off or aggressive to the bat that invaded his home. It was the second such intrusion which he dealt with very humanely. Previous bat visitors were detained and carefully set free without mishap. I applaud anyone who is kind to bats. Too many people believe in the common misconception that bats are rabid hair tangling flying beasts. There is, of course, a group who make it their mission to dispel such myths.
Here's to bats who mistakenly enter a writer's den only to be corralled back into the wild from which they came. And here's to sympathetic authors who understand that bats, like writers, are wildly misunderstood.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Cogito, ergo sum

-I think, therefore I am-

"I am nothing so long as I think that I am something. So, after considering everything very thoroughly, I must finally conclude that the proposition, I am, I exist, is necessarily true whenever it is put forward by me or conceived in my mind." - René Descartes (March 31, 1596 – February 11, 1650), In 1633 Galileo was condemned by the Roman Catholic Church, and Descartes abandoned plans to publish Treatise on the World. In 1637 it publishes "Discourse on the Method". In it an early attempt at explaining reflexes mechanistically is made, although Descartes' theory is later proven wrong within his lifetime. In an ironic turn of events, Galileo was pardoned by the church in 1992. Of course, this is of no consolation to Galileo.
"I think, therefore I am" has become synonymous with Descartes although he published many works, covering an array of topics.

I wonder just how his works would have turned out had his desire to publish had not been guided by fear. Imagine what insightful compositions would have graced the historical book shelf had the church not attempted to control and dominate. In the name of religion, church leaders believed they had the right to control what information reached the masses. They set forth to cease all ideas, writings and public principles that did not agree with their self designated doctrine. Behind all of their strong arm tactics lay their insatiable need for power. Power corrupted many a church leader and stifled the literate genius. Civilization should have progressed to a level of divine enlightenment. Sadly, the church's idea of enlightenment was disguised as brainwashing. If one should learn anything from history, that is to abandoned fear and write from the heart. The writer, ever mindful of the impressionable mind, should never be intimidated by it. Fear always guides you to a dead end street. For every insightful, meaningful idea there is always another opposing one waiting in the wings.
Here's to all the dreamers who put down their philosophical prose to parchment, only to have them shuffled beneath a pile of dogmatic rules.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

What is a writer?

Anyone can be a writer. Someone who keeps a journal, writes the occasional poem or has written many a school paper is a writer. What makes a good writer? First of all, a good writer must know how to spell and/or spell check. After that one must understand the anatomy of a sentence in order to avoid run-ons, fragments and the like. Beyond all that, one must be able to put abstract ideas into words. Not all writers are authors. An author is someone who can weave an idea into a story or poem and feel confident enough to put his or her name to it. Not all authors are good writers. However, the word "good" is a personal word. Everyone has their idea of what is good. Of course, the writing has to be grammatically correct, first and foremost. Assuming that is the case, then the term "good" can refer to a plethora of prose. Avoiding the random cliche and over used expressions is always helpful. Sometimes a stale phrase is called for when creating a stale character. Mark Twain wrote grammatically incorrect dialog because that was the way many of his characters spoke. The ability to elicit emotion from the reader is a sign of a decent story as well. So, in effect, good to some may not be good to others. Publishers seek the "good" manuscript that is mass marketable. They want the most readers so they will bring in the most money. Sometimes, a book that is seemingly ordinary actually surprises the publisher and becomes a sensation. Take Jonathan Livingston Seagull for example. It is a rather short story about a seagull with spiritual aspirations. It just happened to come along at a time when people were interested in abstract spiritual concepts. Yoga and meditation were popular at this time. Would this book be published today? Who's to say. It is a fine book which fortunately got notice from someone in the industry.
"Good books, good food and drink make for a good life," I smile and put on some good music whilst I relax on my beautiful velvet lounger prepared to read. Visualize what I just wrote. Everyone will visualize a completely unique scene formed just for them. It will be different from everyone else's vision, even if only slightly. To some, music or books could be eliminated. To others that would be simply impossible to do. So there you have it, your private fantasy.
No matter how you look at it, all writing has its audience. I can only imagine the multitude of rejected manuscripts by mediocre publishers and agents that were actually quite good. Now, there are alternatives such as self publishing. It is a way for a writer to get published without the risk of rejection. Of course, the writer has to market her own book amidst the monopolistic PR industry's arena. Their onslaught of book pushing ads and overzealous blurbs reach out and shake you by the lapels.
"Read this book if you know what's good for you. Everyone's who's anyone is reading it! What are you, some kind of a loser?"
They have their hands in all the top book sellers pockets. Coupons, displays and author signings create a market for the book. It takes money to make money, and a lot of work. Marketing a book is necessary for the reader and writer to connect. In fairness, a book, in order to stand the test of time, must be able to stand alone in its merits. No amount of PR can keep a bad story on the best seller list.
Getting started without the backing of the big publishing industry is like trying to get to into space in a homemade spaceship. The movie "The Astronaut Farmer" did it, but let's see you try. All things have an energy. A book, that is remotely interesting, has a fan base no matter how small or large. I'm reminded of David Lynch's movie "Eraserhead". A strange, unique film which in a way launched his career. Many people have never heard of the film, but talk to the David Lynch fan and Eraserhead will surely surface in the conversation. The same is true for novels written by new writers. The fan base is waiting in the wings for their cult hit. The problem is how to connect the two. One can assume that the universe, somehow, someway, connects like minded souls to like minded ideas. An interesting concept. The like minded ideas, products and such have to exist in a way that it can be connected with. So, the intellectual, entertaining and fascinating tales exist in the aether. Those who seek such tales, like magnets, are attracted to them. The tale that somehow makes it to the printed word is able to be connected with. So, here's to the almost forgotten, lost in the aether, tale of prose awaiting its audience.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

I am officially journaling my words

I've been a writer much of my life. As a young girl I would create bogus magazines for no one in particular. I would write articles and ads for my mag. I loved to illustrate and layout my own designs. I believe I was around 7 when I started writing in earnest. I would share my hand made magazines with my mother, who, a writer in her own right, poured over it with great interest. She wrote an unpublished sci-fi book which was one of her favorite genres. She also wrote articles for her small town newspaper. When I was in 6th grade, I won a writing contest and my mother had an article published in the small newspaper about my win. I was quite proud of my winning essay on my favorite Indiana vacation spot. Not having traveled much, I wrote about a historical town an hour away from where I lived. It was my first delve into the art of adjectives and adverbs. I was hooked and continually honed my skills.
I did well in my college creative writing and journalism classes. My professor and mentor, the late Caroline Dow was a former writer for People magazine. She infused a genuine enthusiasm for the art of prose in her students. She discovered what each individual leaned toward and had them write accordingly. If a boy liked sports, he wrote sports themed articles. I was more abstract and wrote about the meaning of life and such, not a marketable subject. I ended up writing an business article and doing well with it. However, my heart wasn't into business that much. I decided to follow my heart vs. my bank account. And, here I am, a late bloomer but a bloomer nonetheless. I've had my books and poems read and praised by professors and random individuals. They've told me "You should get these published. These are really good. That one was ok but this one is great!" I took them at their word and sought the ever elusive, always dominate agent. It seems the literary agent doesn't want to read your work. They prefer to be queried with an excerpt here or there. They decide, simply on said query whether you are a match for them or not. It's not easy, to say the least, to portray your work in a single page letter. There are so many do's and don'ts, when composing the "look at my writing" letter it boggles the mind. Not one to be discouraged, I sent some of my work to various agents. I do have a limerick published in the book "On To Mars 2". It is a compilation of space enthusiast's works. It is written by and for, specifically, Mars Society geeks, which I happen to be one of. So, it wasn't difficult to be noticed by those who share my enthusiasm for space exploration. The problem is that I have written allegories, poetry and children's books on a variety of other topics too. I am confident that I will find my soul-agent out there. Hey, I found my soul-mate, which is infinitely more difficult to do, so my soul-agent is surely waiting to glance upon my insightful fiction.
I am an eclectic writer. I have written children's chapter books, adult allegory fiction and poetry. My themes include fantasy, humor, darkness, etc. Whatever the moment brings me. My poetry is as diverse as all my writing is. I follow no one set of rules. I feel and I compose. I have amassed a decent portfolio which is in no way complete, nor will it ever be.
Some of the many authors I admire come from all genres as well. A partial list must include, Charles Dickens (what can I say that hasn't already been said) Jane Austen (Ah, the Victorian storyline) Louisa May Alcott (ditto) Neil Gaiman (Wonderful teller of tales and animal lover) Lewis Carrol (from fantasy to nonsense he does it with skill) Edgar Allen Poe (darkness illuminated) Mark Twain (an everyday hero) William Shakespeare (the bard, to be or not to be, that is the question) I could go on and on but must end here or else I would never get any sleep.
An artistic writer does so because they are compelled. Some invisible force pulls the hand to paper and infuses said paper with words, glorious words. So, here I am, an author who is drawn to paper. I leave my mark, how ever infinitesimal onto this rotating orb of souls.