Dancing to Dirges

Depressing and happy things Tim says, sometimes while drunk

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Writing and Reading and Making Sense

I have an unusual relationship with literary fiction. Mostly I hate it. I hate the pretension. I hate the built up artificial complexity of its stories, if you can even call them stories. I don't know how I survived the umpty-ump literature classes in college. Oh, wait, yes I do. I didn't. I flipped out. I got myself expelled from college, in a most inopportune manner. For a while, college absolutely killed my love of reading, and by extension my love of writing. I still thought of myself as a writer, but I wasn't writing.

But now I'm back. I'm writing. I'm reading. Things move forward. But I still hate the hardcore literary mystique. I think it boils down best like this: It's boring. It isn't interesting. It's not that I don't have the patience, I do, I still reread Dante, I love Conrad and Faulkner and whatever. But there seems to be this belief that in order for the reader to get something of value out of a story, that reader must suffer. They must persevere. And maybe, if they're very good and read two hundred pages of nothing happening, maybe the writer will let them experience some moment of narrative rapture and deep character ascension at the end. Joy!

On the other hand, stories with plots and action and tension tend to shy away from, you know, characters. And meaning. And beautiful prose. And I don't think that's right. So when I describe myself as writing literary adventures, I'm not talking about smart mouthed librarians and moody college professors saving the world for the Dewey Decimal System. No, I mean exciting, interesting stories with deep character progression and maybe a little meaning on the side. But let's not get carried away, right?

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Money is this

So, guess what I'm getting for Christmas? A new fusebox. Awesome!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Jacket: Check

Over the last couple of days, we've started getting the real weather. The true shit. I woke up this morning and it was 13 degrees, with windchills dancing around zero. I look at that and think, Man, that's cold, but then I remember that there will come a time, a few months from now, when I'll see 13 on the thermometer and think Heat Wave!

So I stand outside with my jacket unzipped and I breathe deep, let the cold air in, let the frost into my lungs. Winter is a clean time, a hard season, and it makes you or it breaks you. So let the cold in.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Make a list. Check.

David, who is a wise and profound writer, makes for himself a list of goals for the coming year. He considers the new writerly year to start at WFC. It makes sense to me, and I like making lists because it's *like* you're working towards a goal, but really you're not. Anyway.

Madison felt like a new start for me. It was very much like waking up and finding yourself happy again. That's the only way I can describe it. I'm all ready planning on going to Austin next year, and Saratoga the year after that. It's on the list. But let's make some goals, yes?

1) 12 stories. Specifically, 12 stories that are worthy of submission. Written, edited and submitted.
2) Get an agent. Ha! No, seriously. Let's get an agent.
3) Next book. I don't think I can finish a book in this time, but I'd very much like to start the first Veridon book. It'll give me something to talk about.
4) Sales. Sell half the stories you write. Ideally that means six. That's just silly. I'm not going to count the three sales I made in the last month or so. Madison is the beginning, and technically The Song was purchased the day I went to the Con. I just didn't know it. So. Half the stories written must sell.
5) Dead Channel. I can only say that I'd like to keep a steady pace of stories going on there. I'm not going to set a number. Just "maintain a viable presence on the Channel." Sounds good.

Okay, that's it. I will now forget all about this post, and no one (NO ONE!) is to remind me of it in Austin next year. Are we clear on that point?

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Things that happened in Madison

Okay, I'm going to try to post about my experiences at World Fantasy Con. It seems that everyone is doing something like this, and so I'm going to give it a shot. Mind you, this will undoubtably be the least coherent, most random WFC report you will read.

Let me start with a little background, because I know that most of my readers haven't actually been to one of these things. WFC is an industry con. It's specifically geared towards the fantasy market, but most of the people who work in fantasy also do time in science fiction. Just the way things are. Even the panels would stray into science fictional material pretty consistently.

Going in, I understood that it was an industry con, but I really didn't understand what that meant. Cognitively I expected to see more pros. I went to WorldCon in Toronto, and saw a lot of pros and a lot of fans, so I simply expected to see the pros at WFC more frequently. That is exactly not what happened.

I follow the industry fairly closely. Not obsessively, but it is in my professional best interest to recognize names and faces. I subscribe to Locus, I read the Nightshade boards and Mumpsimus. The point is, I knew everyone. I'd walk into a party stuffed wall to wall with people, and every name tag in the joint was familiar. Not a matter of seeing more pros. Completely a matter of seeing nothing *but* pros. It's intimidating. Which brings us to all the drinking, right?

And business cards! That floored me. The first time it happened I was standing next to the "bar" (a table with two plastic bins filled with ice, beer and wine.) having just talked to one of my favorite writers currently, Paolo Bacigalupi. If you haven't read his stuff, seriously, just read it. It's painful how good this guy is. And he's a nice guy, too! Anyway. I was trying to get over having just talked to Paolo when I found myself standing next to Joshua Bilmes. Agent. Very good agent, very well connected and, again, a very nice guy. I spoke with him briefly at Worldcon three years ago, but was too nervous to say anything smart. Anyway. He turns to me and starts talking about the Borders in Wheaton (he read my tag, saw where I was from, and now we're talking. Ta da.) where it happens that I used to work. From there we transition into what I'm doing now, and I say something about "first sale to Interzone" and he nods and hands me a business card. Two minutes later he agrees to read the first 25 pages of my novel. And that's how shit gets done.

I didn't get that many cards, but it always happens the same way. Talking to someone you don't know about the industry, and eventually they say "So, what are you working on." And then you say "Oh, I'm pretty new in the field. But I just made my first sale to Interzone, so I'm pretty psyched about that." And as soon as you say the words "first sale to Interzone" they nod, slip their hand in the pocket of their blazer or wallet or whatever, and out comes the card. "Interzone's a good market. Let me know when you get to the novel stage." It's a *fucking* trip.

So, yes. Networking. There are panels to attend and dinners to eat, but mostly it's about networking. By the end of the weekend I had a posse of folks I could nod to in hallways, stop and shake their hands, "How's the con treating you." and then you get introduced to whoever they're talking to, and that's one more person you can smile and nod and handshake. Next year I'm going with business cards. Business cards and another dozen sales. People aren't going to ask what I do. People are going to know.

There I go, talking like an ass again. Really, I'm not an ass. I just live with the intent to succeed. Whatever the fuck that means.

Anyway. Before I forget, I managed to make the first of my dozen targetted sales. While I was at WFC, Interzone contacted me to let me know that they'll be buying The Song. It wasn't as easy of a sale, apparently, but they specifically requested more stories in that setting. Which was my plan all along. So much writing to do!