One More Time

I was frothing with surprise and delight for a while today.

The morning’s email brought interest from three agents. They wanted to see more material from April Showers 1921, a surprise. I thought that all interest from the first round of submissions had died (accomplished in October, 2019). I was regrouping for another round of submissions.

I also thought how odd it was that these agent things happen in clumps. But then, I submit in clumps, and the agents describe similar processes and response times. It shouldn’t be a surprise when they respond in clumps.

What WAS a surprise was an agent expressing interest in Four on Kyrios, the first novel of the Incomplete States series (five books). I submitted to her in February, 2019, ten months ago.

(A pause to consider that I’d finished writing a five novel series last year (Incomplete States, 430,000 words), and then wrote a novel earlier this year (April Showers 1921, 180,000 words), and now I’m finishing a third book (To Begin, 73,000 words so far). And yes, that does please me. Plodding along at about five pages a day does start adding up. Especially when I remember that Incomplete States and all of its support documents (side stories, character, planet, and cultural histories, etc) added up to one million words.)

Although it’s exciting to receive the emails from the agents, after reflecting, I thought, well, I’ll do my writing session today, and then try to respond to these agents tonight. I wasn’t being contrary or sabotaging myself, but in thinking through where I was and who I am, I enjoy the writing process, I’m enjoying writing the current novel, and I have momentum. (The muses are being friendly and I don’t want to alienate them.) So, although my goal is to find publication for those previously written novels, writing the current novel entices me more.

It’s a curious sensation. Yeah, I seek publication beyond the self-publishing of the four novels that I’ve already done. The agent interest is validation, in one sense; someone is interested! In another sense, I shrug; I’ve always written for myself, creating mysteries and logic problems for me to solve, building and expanding worlds in my mind, and discovering characters who emerge as people to me.

I’m also a tinge jaded, reconciling myself, yeah, you’ve been shown interest by agents and editors before, and it’s come to naught. (Really, are you so cynical, Michael?)

Yes, I am. More than cynicism, in the course of writing novels and following a quest to be a better thinker, story-teller, and writer, I’ve fallen out of concern about what others think about my writing. I can argue that some of that is self-preservation (and perhaps a tincture of imposter syndrome). See, if I don’t get excited, then I’ll be less dejected if the agents decline my project. That’s the theory.

It’s also short-sighted; being in a bubble of my own thinking, reading, writing, and criticism means that I don’t receive feedback that could help me grow.

Yes, true.

So, being cynical, jaded, short-sighted, and dubious, writing, with all of its challenges and frustrations, is more immediately rewarding and satisfying. Solving these self-made issues generates a sweet dopamine infusion. Perhaps that’s the lesson — and warning — that I should really find in my response today: I’m a writing addict, looking for a quick fix.

Today’s news does want me to treat myself to a scone or muffin. Comfort food, I believe, to help cope; the potential for advancing also carries the angst and burden of failure. Have something to eat, right? It’s a humorous pattern.

Yet, again…there was that time when I came across a woman reading my novel at a Starbucks here in my town, a cool experience. I’ve received feedback from readers about how my they’ve enjoyed something I’ve written, which was a powerful jolt to the ego. Multiple those intangible rewards by the potential that being published on a larger scale could bring.

Also in passing, though, I do enjoy reading my own work. It’s fun to read what I’ve written, and it often surprises me. I understand what that says about my process and being in the tube. What was originally conceived and written (in my methodology) frequently evolves under editing, revising, refinement, and polishing. I write to know what I think, and I rewrite to clarify it and deal with loopholes in my thinking (and plotting and problem solving).

As a final piece, of course; this is me, today. Me, tomorrow, or yesterday — or even later today — might respond differently. Moods (and the hopes and expectations related to them) are dynamic. Hence, I needed to write all of this out just to think about it, a prelude, perhaps, to discovering how I feel.

Well, it’s all thinking fodder. Got my coffee. Time to write like crazy, at least one more time.

Got to feed that addiction, you know?

 

 

Writing Time Again

Yesterday’s writing session went well. Only five pages finished, taking me to two sixty, and closer to the story’s end. More of the final details flashed into me, which was really exciting.

I kept writing in my head in my après-writing walk, which ended up being two and half miles. I’d just kept writing in my head and forgot about the time or distance. I was ravenous by then, as it was after three and I’d not eaten lunch.

Books had been given to me for Christmas. I began reading one of them last night after watching the news, but had only read a paragraph before the urge to add a line to my novel jumped into me. Opening the document, I added that line and then experienced more ideas and wrote three more pages.

This morning, as I fed les chats, I wrote in my head and decided to add another line to the novel. So I sat down in the sweats that I wear to bed and wrote two more pages as I ate breakfast.

That seemed to satisfy the muses.

Breakfast is finished but I’m not dressed or anything. Must clean up, shave, brush the teeth, etc., so I can go out and write like crazy, at least one more time, and have a cuppa coffee. Haven’t enjoyed a drop yet today.

I take it all as it comes.

The Déjà Vu Dream

I believe it was a dream. But —

I often enjoy oatmeal for breakfast. Berries, fruit, and nuts are frequently added for taste and nutrition.

A large bag of walnut pieces is kept in the refrigerator (so they won’t go rancid). As I pulled them out, I flashed on the bag falling open. Walnut pieces poured out.

Standing there, I didn’t recall anything like that happening to me, and thought that it was a dream. It seemed so startling real that I looked around to see if any walnuts were in the refrigerator or on the floor.

I remembered then that I’d been talking to someone as I was doing this. Music had been playing in the background. I was aware of the music and recognized it but I don’t know what it was now.

So many walnuts poured out of the back, it seemed like half of the bag had emptied. Yet, when I closed the bag, I was surprised to discover it was still almost full. But the refrigerator drawer had enough walnuts in it to fill another bag.

Whoever was with me hadn’t noticed anything going on, so I said, “Look at this. Look at all these walnuts.”

They asked, “Where’d they come from?”

Holding up the bag, I said, “From this bag. But the bag is still almost full.”

The other came over and looked. “Yeah, that’s something.”

End of dream (or memory).

I am about ninety percent certain that it was a dream. Thinking about it as I finished making my oatmeal, I chuckled to myself. Was I telling myself that I was nuttier than I realized?

###

After I typed this out, I saw a photo of a squirrel on the net. The photo triggered a fuller memory. The walnut incident was a dream last night.

After the walnuts had spilled out, etc., the dream continued. I’d gone outside. Two cats were present. One was ours and the other belonged to a neighbor. (Neither are cats that I know/recognize from life.)

My wife and I were trying to keep ourselves safe, along with the cats. To that end, the cats were kept in a  large and hilly fenced yard with many trees, but the cats kept getting out. I kept asking, “How are these cats getting out?” Watching them, I’d discover a secret path or a hole in the fence and block it only to see them out there again, and discover that another secret way existed.

The neighbor’s cat then came in through a secret tunnel with a squirrel in their mouth. The squirrel was alive. I then noticed the yard had many squirrels. I concluded that the cat was going out, finding squirrels, capturing them, and bringing them in. As I realized this, I saw her coming in through another underground tunnel, carrying another squirrel in her mouth.

I told my wife what I was seeing. Then, remembering the walnuts, I rushed inside, got the bag of walnuts, and brought them out to feed the squirrels.

Dream ended.

 

 

 

Friday’s Theme Music

Out of an overheard apology as I passed a couple on the street came an overused phrase, “It was just the heat of the moment.” She said it in a dry monotone.

I wondered what’d been said before. Couldn’t say from glancing at the middle-aged couple, he, neatly bearded, in jeans and a silver puffy jacket, she with short blonde hair swept across her forehead, in a tight black jacket, matching tight leggings (don’t know what they’re really called now), and purple running shoes. Sunglasses dancing with reflections hid their eyes.

Here came the old (well, half a lifetime ago (1982) – over a lifetime ago, for some) Asia song, “Heat of the Moment”.

Cue the guitars (can you tell he was with Yes?).

Floofhalla

Floofhalla (floofinition) – The great hall where pets are honored and cared for after they’ve crossed the rainbow bridge.

In use: “Ozzy and Flash sat close to one another in Floofhalla (not too close, as Flash had this thing about other animals being in her presence, and she still carried that trait beyond the rainbow bridge), watching over their people and remembering their times with them before, and planning the times they’d have again.”

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