Friday, November 13, 2009

The Publishing World Is Cruel, But Kinder Than Broadway

Since my list of grumbles a couple of week's back, I've written another 10% of Summer Must End, and I'm over that awkward spot and past the 50% mark. It's flowing nicely, the characters are solid, and I believe I know where the plot is heading. I say 'I believe' because we just never know. An impulsive piece of dialogue, a character suddenly shoving forward to take precedence, could cause the navigation to fail, and I'll end up somewhere entirely unexpected, which isn't the end of the world, but I like to have some control. This is one of the frustrations and joys of writing fiction, of course - the surprise of it - and I'm not complaining.

I'm confident enough with this first half of the book to send it to my friend in Australia for her comments; until now, I wasn't sure if other changes would be necessary. I know she won't care for this book. It's not her genre. But this doesn't matter, because she's a great reader, appreciates good writing, and will look at it as a lot of agents would - with the cold, hard eye of practicality.  In other words, she will see (I hope) that it's good, regardless of her own personal preferences, and she'll undoubtedly pick up some absurdity that I missed. This is good. I am indebted to her, once again, for reading something she otherwise wouldn't consider.

Already I have another plot bouncing around in my head. I so wanted to attempt a humorous book next time, just for a change, but, sad to say, this new idea is steeped in mystery, shadows, and a fair chunk of the supernatural. Instead of falling asleep at night thinking about the book I'm working on, I've been running through this new one. Is this crazy?  It's one thing to have more than one painting on the go, but fiction?  But what do I know? Perhaps it's more common than I realize. It really makes sense, when the writing is going slowly on one, that you could switch to the other for a while. Have any of you done this? Anyway, I'm itching to get to it, after I've finished the current one, and, after that one, then I'll tackle the humor.  That's a really tough genre, in case you didn't know, and a huge challenge. I think I can be funny, but can I write it?

SarahBeth Purcell has been receiving some help with her art sales and other fund-raising, I'm happy to tell you. I'm not assuming my blogs had anything to do with this, because she's been hugely active herself in raising the money she desperately needs to treat her poor, sick cat, Willow Fern. The fantastic news is that the treatment has tentatively been booked for December 15, and could be slightly less expensive than the original quote. How amazing is that? It's so rewarding to be a part of this, and I'm keeping a close eye on the little meter SarahBeth has put up on her blog page.  She's almost at the half-way mark, based on the new cost, and it's only a week since she started, I think. If you missed her plea for help, take a look at her link above, and my blog last Friday.

I've had a number of doubts, fears, and questions about my current agented book, Hafan Deg. I blythely tell you guys about the patience needed in snaring an agent, and the excruciating time they can take in finding a publisher. But, naturally, I don't listen to myself.  The truth is, I've been really frustrated because it's four months since I found my agent and nothing has happened yet. So I wrote to SarahBeth, who's been through all of this more than once, and with British agents.  She set me straight with a wealth of information, but essentially she said I should hang in. (For a little while longer, at least.) I knew it would be a hard slog - I told you that, didn't I? Physician heal thyself.

I was going to remind you how tough this writing business is (as if you didn't know), but I watched a documentary the other night on the production torments of Broadway shows  - how hard they work, the preview process, refining the script, re-writing music and lyrics, the stress of First Night and the ultimate bete noire - the critic. The odds of failing are astronomical. Imagine the heartbreak - for everyone in the company - to be forced to close after a couple of months, a couple of weeks, or even one night. Makes me feel a lot better about my choice of artistic endeavor.

I'm not using my Boadicea avatar here today, because I'm not in battle mode, and I don't need Edna either, as I'm feeling quite sane, for a change. I am doggedly resolute and no-nonsense, in fact, and just need to get on with things. This granny image says it all.
Have a good weekend (definitely soup weather) and be kind to one another.


Melissa Marsh said...

I have tried to write two novels at once and would flip back and forth between them. However, one eventually consumed me and I had to let the other one go until I was finished with the first. I think some people can write more than one novel at a time, but I can't. I need the focus to stay on one.

I will pop over to SarahBeth's blog. I can certainly spare a bit to help her poor kitty!

John Atkinson said...

Fran, I wanted an agent to sell my two books, but I got a publisher instead. My first book is a memoir and the other a thriller inspired by Coben's Tell No One. I saw in your Profile that book moved you too. Please visit my blog.

Devon Ellington said...

As someone who spent over 20 year working on Broadway, I disagree to a point. There's an awful lot of heartbreak in developing a new show; there are fewer slots, and more people involved every step of the way.

That's also part of the strength.

I spent years working 8 shows/week on sometimes shows that ran for 5 years, sometimes shows that ran for a week.

It was much easier, in some ways, than making a living by my pen.

But I do make my living by my pen now, and glad I made the choice.

The writing life has gotten more difficult now, because far too much of the marketing is dumped on the writer, leaving less time in the day to write, yet more pressure to get books out on a regular schedule.

Fran said...

Nice to get a theatre pro in on the discussion. I admire you. You must have (had) nerves of steel.

Sarahbeth Purcell said...

Much much much appreciation to you, Fran. Truly overwhelmed by the kindness shown, and so happy to be able to offer something to people to enjoy in return, hopefully.

Although I am jaded having been through the agent insanity too many times as well as publisher insanity, I know that your tenacity and willingness to keep writing no matter what's going on will always serve you best.

So many wishes for success to you and again, much gratitude :)

Fran said...

SarahBeth - So much I owe to you, believe me. Thank you!