Monthly Archives: May 2012
Wo-hooo! So, come August, I will be attending the Romance Writers of Australia 21st Annual Conference with one of my fellow sisters. I am
knee groin neck-deep in the second MS of my contemporary fantasy series and planning to finish ASAP (Come on brain and fingers! Type faster, accurse thee! Be silent, children who crawl around my feet, sticking forks into wall sockets!). At the conference, I will be pitching “Blackgoat Watch”, the first in the series, so fingers crossed! Am seeing the pitch session right now: my glossy hair falls in perfect waves, my make-up is flawless, I confidently make eye contact (but not too much!) and laugh (but not too much!), I don’t stammer or repeat myself. I don’t accidentally spit. I don’t go bright red. Most importantly: I. DO. NOT. WAFFLE. No. I am Pitch Goddess. I think I need a talisman, like Wonder Woman underpants. Must remember not to mention underpants in pitch.
Then come November, I will be flying to Sydney to attend GenreCon, which will also be awesome! Some of the headliners are: Joe Abercrombie, Ginger Clark from Curtis Brown (Who liked my email pitch I sent early in the year and requested a partial. Project was passed on, but I was still over the moon my pitch got me to second base – woot woot!), Anna Campbell, Sarah Wendell from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books (which I have been reading forever) and the always brilliant and magnificent Kim Wilkins.
So, a brilliant year still ahead! If only this manuscript would write itself. Curse you, stubborn protagonist! Be witty! Solve that crime! Kick that guy’s head in! DO something! Don’t just stand there waiting for me!
Contradiction is a quality I find oddly comforting … when nothing else is sure, you can rely on exceptions, polar opposites, and conflict. Something about that is right; it fits with the natural order**. So it is with short stories – how they get created (the lighting visit of Genesis), and how they get out into the world (the long haul with Persistence). And this is about one story in particular – my doomed salvage captain story, ‘Deep Deck 9’, which has just been accepted for publication at Luna Station Quarterly. (Huzzah!)
Genesis, you see, is flashy thing. He’s animal power. Fast. Overpowering. You know instantly whether you’re attracted to what he’s got. He’s often noisy, and insistent. But you have to take care, because he has no investment.
Now, I’m never usually interested in how writers get their ideas; it seems a banal question. The world is full of stories. Genesis is always flashing about. But sometimes, … well, sometimes he gets you going with not very much. You see, in 2008, I went to see Burn After Reading. I remember two things from that movie – ‘The Chair’ (and, oh lord, you know what I mean) – and the end, where the agents describe all the shenanigans of the past 90 mins as a clusterfuck. There it was. Genesis. I wanted that word in my story, and I wanted it now. Nothing more complicated.
It took only a few minutes to generate the premise … what could be worse than knowing you were going to die because of a crap job you didn’t want to take, and more, that you weren’t sure even your death would end it? My voice settled in the head of a captain about to burn up on re-entry. Genesis left me while I wrote (always a quick exit).
And then, I had to wait for Persistence.
You see, that was 2008. In the four years since, the story got edited, beta-read, edited again (a few times). And then it went out into markets. My submission tracker (spreadsheet I use to keep straight all the works I’ve got out in the world) tells me it’s been rejected seven times – and I know it was a few more than that – the story is older than the tracker itself. Persistence has been my man through this time. He’s the steady one, the one without ego that calmly writes ‘Rejected’ and copies the title to the next line, ready to submit again. He reminds me that there is another day, and another, and that steps come one at a time.
So Persistence is the one who gets you home, but you never begin without Genesis. I am glad for them both: the surprise and the follow-through. And now, with the help of both, my story is going into the world. 🙂 [‘Deep Deck 9’ is out 1 June]
**Neal Stephenson said it better in The Diamond Age.
Not necessarily a scary monster, though I have met those kind, too. I’m picturing a Cookie-Monster kind of beast, but it eats words and phrases and scenes and scene ideas and not only that, all those lovely, empty moments in between things, like when you’re in the shower or on the loo or just after waking up in the morn or just prior to nodding off at night or driving to get some place … all those moments that used to spontaneously fill up with pondering (brilliant) thoughts about the current WIP, or even an old story or, best of all, a newly born idea … all gone, all snaffled up and chomped down by that hungry, greedy, albeit kinda lovable monster that used to be life as I knew it but has now morphed, Hyde-like into something far less tame and predictable.
And let’s face it, who wants a tame and predictable kind of life? Surely not us writers, who go in search of the wild and strange and unruly all the time, ‘cos ordinary life just isn’t enough. But maybe that’s just it … maybe we prefer it on the page, under the pen, where we can be the boss and decide on the happily ever afters or not?
Hmmm… that sounds suspiciously true, goddam it! Me, the free-wheeling hippy, a control freak, after all? Noooooo! But … yes. Sometimes.
And now Life has turned and changed, as it does, yet again. For me, it’s been the end of one day job and the beginning of a new one, in an entirely new, demanding field. I know others in the sisterhood have been tangling with the Writing-Monster, too. A new baby will do it. Or a move to another country. Change: it’s what life is made of, it’s what it does, and it’s what stories are made of, too. It’s just sometimes the living, breathing unfolding story/monster of Life takes precedence over the ones that we lure and capture into the cage of the page. Sometimes you just have to put the pen down and live a little. Let life live you.
So that’s what I’ve been doing.
I do, however, have a deadline to meet. So the monster and I are going to have to come to some sort of understanding, soon. This blog post is a start.