Dancing to Dirges

Depressing and happy things Tim says, sometimes while drunk

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Miles to go. Something about Sleeping.

Well, revisions are back from my readers and Joshua. Much work to do. At first I was going to despair, but looking over the notes I'm really pleased with how the book will look once that's all taken care of. But it's a lot of work. I'm probably scratching my vacation to Carolina at the end of the month to get it all done. I really don't want to do that, but hell. This is a lot of writing.

The lesson here is that you build revision time into your writing estimates. My mistake was that I stopped writing once negotiations started. I originally asked for seven months, but I didn't do any work while details were hammered and such, so that when the contract got signed two months later, it still had the original due date. So seven months became five, and here I am scrambling in the last week. My fault. But like I said, I'm really happy with the crits I got back, and with the specific recommendations. I have ideas. I have scenes. They just have to be written.

So. Radio silence? Probably not, since I write these posts at work, and I can't really work on the manuscript at my desk. But now you know what I'll be doing most nights for the next two weeks.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Epic Succeed

Lying in bed last night I formed a long and depressing post reacting to the most recent Interzone Readers Poll. I'm a little more at peace with things this morning, but I still wanted to go through my thoughts on the subject.

I had a pretty bad reaction to last year's poll, I'll admit. Both the stories I had in 2006 ended up in the bottom third of voting, and I kind of wondered what the hell I was doing. This year when they posted some of the results online I had at least made the top ten. Specifically, Toke placed tenth. I had a couple immediate thoughts on this, which developed into other thoughts. Anyway. In order:

1) Toke? Really? I think it's a good story, but between the two I had in 2007 I really thought Algorithm was a much better story. At the time of its publication, I felt it was the best story I had written.

2)Well, I'm glad to have made the top ten, at least.

3)Then again, I'm in tenth. Tenth place is still nine places too low.

4)I wonder where Algorithm ended up?

I got the relevant issue of Interzone yesterday, and guess what? No Algorithm in the top 20. Once again, my favorite story ended up in the bottom third. Swell.

I've been thinking a lot about how I define success in this industry. Because we're talking about an art form here, you're going to get varying tastes and preferences. It all comes down to how those preferences get expressed, and whose tastes take dominance. Editors, for example, like certain things. I have no doubt that the editors at IZ liked my work. I know that I liked it, and many of my readers liked it. But the majority of readers? Less impressed.

Now, I'm not going to change how I write. I'm not sure I could, to be honest. But I'm beginning to feel like maybe I'm an acquired taste, and that breaking through to a larger audience is something that may never happen. I'm jumping the gun a little, obviously, since the book isn't even out. I'm sure the editors will like it. I know I like it. But all those readers out there, the ones who go from shelf to shelf and buy the author's happiness in $7 packets? Who knows.

And if I end up the kind of successful that develops a cult following and limps along in the midlist, grinding out a book or so a year but never able to support myself on proceeds, and I get a moderate amount of recognition from my peers but nothing like commercial viability?

Well. I have a word for that kind of success. That's the kind of success that's actually failure. That's the kind of success that keeps you in your bad job, and makes you burn out on late nights, and takes all of your free time and converts it to mild depression and no social life.

I won't accept that kind of success. Sorry.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

I can relate to that

Work is slow, so I'm reading my Access manual. One of the problems with my job is that my skill set is so narrow that I'm pretty much unmarketable to other companies. Plus, people we hire have to learn our ridiculously outdated software. So I'm trying to learn a little something.

Now, of course, I'm imagining a table of all my characters, related to scene records which are populated with time stamps and summaries, and then a query where I can call up a certain time in the narrative and see where everyone is, and what they're doing. That seems like a great idea, right? Right?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

What would you do, in my place?

I think I mentioned at some point that I'm going to be at a convention this weekend. It's a smallish local affair called Duckon, but it'll be the first time I have panels to attend, so I'm excited. Initially it looked like I would be participating in three or four panels, plus there was going to be a reading. I was hoping to make enough of an impression during my panels to get people to come to the reading. Well. That's not going to work out. The convention lost some of its space, so they had to trim the panels to the nub. In fact, it looks like they eliminated the entire literary track. Which, you know...that's what I do.

I've only got one panel, now, and that's not until Sunday at 1pm. My reading? Saturday morning at 10am. That's the first reading of the day, on the first full day of the con. So. I'm going to take a book to read, and if people show up I'll have the first chapter of Heart, but since I can virtually guarantee attendance is going to be limited to my friends who just happen to be at the convention...well. We're probably going to sit around and talk about politics or something. Or maybe we'll have that panel on publishing I was hoping to get to. Or the thing about dialog. I take pride in my dialog. Anyway. Still excited to be going. It's just not going to be the same.

In the meantime I've been making myself busy with things that don't need doing yet, because I'm not busy with the things that need doing. That is, I'm ahead of the game, so I'm starting the next game. That's nice.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Empty roads

I don't know how old I was, but I remember at some point realizing that mythology was just a religion that no one believed anymore. I must have been in early middle school somewhere, fifth or sixth grade. Something like that. It was while I was reading Asterix the Gaul. I was an obsessive Asterix reader when I was a kid, even though I didn't know my latin, and missed a lot of the jokes. I think the allure was that it was hard to get a hold of them where I lived. I only got Asterix when we went out of the country. I'm sure that there were places in the US you could get them, but I got my first Asterix in Australia, and most of the rest of my collection came from England, Australia, France and Germany.

But I was reading Asterix, and I kept wondering why they swore in Juno's name. Didn't make any sense. I actually took to swearing by Zeus and Orion and stuff for a while, because the biblical command is "Thou shalt not take *my* name is vain." And then I made the connect. It was a weird moment. I remember wondering, heretically, if that would happen with Christianity. If we'd have people studying the testaments as mythology and literature, rather than Revelation. Anyway.

This plays heavily in my book, for those of you who haven't caught on to that yet. There's a whole religion in Veridon that's on the cusp of being abandoned. The last shrines are crumbling, the last supplicants are changing their vestments. I want to do more with it, in the future books, but for now it's just a little setting. So much like that; things I just touch on in Heart, but really want to build out later on. We'll see. You'll see. Everyone will see.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Avert yer eyes, children

Well, today is our fourteenth anniversary. I have trouble believing that we're real adults sometimes, or that we've been through fourteen years. It doesn't seem that long. I think the best part of it is that, when we're out, people still mistake us for kids on our first date. That's the kind of relationship we have, the kind of relationship everyone should have. This woman has been through a lot with me, put up with a lot of my moods and my crankiness, my ambitions and my silly dreams. We go well together.

Thanks, Jen. Every day is like the first.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

You wait a week, and for what? Rambling.

So. A week and a half, huh? You'd think I was a busy guy or something, the way I treat you people.

Finishing the book was nice, and unexpected. I ended up cutting out part of chapter 19, transferring what I had of 20 into 19, edited it down to a realistic length and then wrote chapter 20 and the epilogue. Then I played videogames all day Saturday, took a nap on Sunday, and went to the parade on Monday. Various other stuff, too, but nothing constructive. It was nice.

Part of last week went to that synopsis I mentioned. It's for a short story thing, and I have to be honest, I've never done a synopsis for a short story before I've written word one. We'll see if it helps. Oh, and I also got the contract for a short story for another anthology, so that's all cool. It's always nice to discover that your publisher pays better than you expected.

Nothing much else going on. On Friday I printed out the novel and started reading. I'll reserve comment on that until the first-readers get back to me. I don't want to unduly influence people one way our another. I'm going to have a busy rest-of-month, though.

I'll be at Duckon next weekend. It's my first con where I have panels and a reading. I don't really expect anyone to show up to the reading, but I'm practicing the first chapter all the same.

Yeah, okay. That's about it. Let's all have a good game, good hustle, get out there and show these boys what you're made of. And remember, it's not the winning or the losing. It's the hustle.