An Uplifting Dream

Last night’s dream felt so uplifting and positive. I remember taking off my shirt and having my abdomen suddenly beginning muscular, showing off an eight pack. Suddenly, everyone was looking at me in admiration. I’m usually withdrawn and self-effacing, but I was happy for the attention and accepted it with grace.

As marvelous as that was, a woman suddenly sought me . I vaguely knew and recognized her. She said that she was back to get a story from me, fulfilling a promise she’d made a few years before.

Delighted, I was completely taken back by the unexpected request. I wasn’t aware of any promise, but I wasn’t about to question it and scrambled through my files for something.

Nothing was ready. I confessed to her, “I’m sorry, but I don’t have anything ready.”

She said, “Do you have anything that you think is promising?”

“Yes, yes, I have many things partially begun or sketched out.”

“Pick one.”

I returned to my files and began searching. “Okay, I think I have one in mind.”

As I continued searching, she said, “How soon can you get it ready?”

“I’m not sure. It’s going to take some time and work.”

“Get it ready. Finish it. I’m waiting for you.”

The end.

Well, cool. Amazing how something as unexplained as a nocturnal dream can feel so empowering, infusing me with positive energy while it shunts negative energy away.

 

Advertisements

Disturbing Results

He didn’t know how this fit into anything.

Completing his manuscript, including revising and editing it, he scoured the net, found a dozen prospective agents, and sent it off to them.

Three weeks later, he hadn’t heard anything from any of them and decided to beat the net to see what was happening with his prospective agents.

Imagine his surprise when they all turned out dead.

Well, he’d always thought it was a killer idea.

Agent Submissions

wish agents submitted to my will, but they’re impressively resilient.

That’s not what I’m writing ’bout, as you know. I’m addressin’ the other sort of submissions, the one that requires you to send agents your writing, seeking a pinkiehold on the path to traditional publishing, which, as we all know, also brings us fame, fortune, and immunity from ever doubting ourselves again.

Right?

As I’ve refined my submission process in this go-around, I’ve come to think of it as job-hunting. Instead of a novel or proposal, you’re submitting a resume when you’re job hunting.

They have other similarities.

You peruse every source you find for potential places to submit.

You submit as much as you can.

You wait and hope for positive responses.

You keep going until you’ve signed somewhere.

What ’bout you? How’d you approach it?

Syn-Syn-Synopsis

I brushed off writing my synopsis like I was signing a birthday card with élan when I wrote about it in a post earlier this month. Writing a synopsis wasn’t that easy for me.

It’d been yonks since I’d written one. I wanted to do the best that I could. I knew the idea was that it’s a brief summary. How long should a synopsis be? How much detail should be given? Should I describe the character and setting?

Searching for answers, I pulled out books on writing and publishing that I have on hand. I read magazine articles, newspaper articles, and blog posts about how long a synopsis should be, what it does, and what it shouldn’t be. I panicked. I read agents and publishers’ opinions about what’s at stake in the synopsis in their opinion for accepting or rejected a novel. I read what authors shared about their rejections and their initial efforts writing synopsis, and I grew disheartened. Then I brushed that off and got busy.

After creating a synopsis file, I opened the latest version of Four on Kyrios and began reading it. After refreshing myself with the chapter, I wrote one or two sentences about what it was about. I did so chapter after chapter. One paragraph typically captured a flow of events about what the characters were doing, where they were doing it, and results. I resisted doubts and over-thinking it while I was doing it.

I won’t lie, working intensely, it took me most of a week to write. Did I do it right? I don’t know. As with everything, I learned what I could and applied the knowledge and tried to do the best that I could. As with everything else in life, that’s all that I can ever do.

Got my coffee in hand. Time to write like crazy, at least one more time.

April Showers 1921

I wrote about a new novel that came to me in a dream the other night (“Spinning Up”). One unmentioned aspect was the newly conceived novel’s cover. I saw it in the dream. The cover felt and looked so real and substantial to me that I was nonplussed. The title, April Showers 1921, was embossed gold letters on a silver cover. It seemed so real that I looked up the title to determine if that book already existed. Without surprise, I found songs, books, and short stories called April Showers, but none had the 1921 addition, and none featured silver and gold covers. I seem safe with it.

I’ve worked on April Showers 1921 some since dreaming about it, fleshing out characters, setting, and writing some scenes, but I didn’t throw myself into it. After two days of that, I wondered, why not? I realized that indecision caused by my greatest weakness, over-analysis, was paralyzing me once again.

It’s a familiar scenario. I overthink something. That drains my resources, and I stop making progress until I resolve what I’m overthinking.

Naturally, this paralysis is all founded on a writing issue, specifically — this time — finding an agent for the Incomplete States series. I think I’ve identified several potential agents. I narrowed my search to one lucky agent. I’ve written a synopsis and query letter. That’s where I stopped.

The Incomplete States series employs several styles. In terms of recent books, it reminds me of Cloud Atlas. My series science-fiction infused, but its mostly literary, except the first novel has a science-fiction military noir feel to it. Fantasy flares strong in another book, while yet another has the sensibility of historic fiction.

Yes, I enjoy genre B&B – bending and blending – whether I’m reading or writing it.

On a side note, the great and all-knowing Internet says, don’t mention any of the rest of the series when seeking representation and publication of the first book.

For grins, I hunted down the rejection records for successful writers. I’ve followed this path before, so it’s very familiar to me.

J.K. Rowling. Her Harry Potter series was rejected twelve times, you know. Dr. Suess was rejected twenty-seven times before he found a publisher willing to take a chance on his Cat in the Hat book. The author of  The Martian, Andy Weir, had given up on being published, but kept writing and self-published. When The Martian found success, publishers came running. Kathryn Stockett, The Help, was rejected over sixty times. Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle in Time, had twenty-six rejections. Catch-22, Joseph Heller, twenty-two rejections. Twenty for William Goldberg, The Lord of the Flies. Carrie, by Stephen King, was rejected thirty times. Pretty amazing was that Still Alice, by Lisa Genova, experienced over one hundred rejections. After she self-published and had success, publishers came calling, and her novel was made into a movie starring Julianne Moore, who won an Oscar for her performance.

There was also Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita, over five times, and Robert Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, rejected one hundred twenty-one times.

Reading about these rejections is invigorating and inspiring. You gotta have hope, optimism, belief, and determination. You gotta keep writing for the love of writing.

Writing about my paralysis cleared matters up and broke the log jam. (I now have a featured image of logs floating through my mind.) I’m ready to submit. (Ha, ha, I love how that can have multiple meanings.) All they can do is say no, right?

The day is full of promise. I got my coffee. Time to submit, and then write and edit like crazy, at least one more time.

Erica Also Said

Today’s quote resonates with me. Agents say they want read your book and feel like they did when they watched Game of Thrones or something on Netflix. Reading descriptions of what they want, they sound like they’re issuing specs for me to use to write my book.

It’s a depressing and destructive exercise, reading what they want, and comparing it to what I’ve written. It reduces the search to exactly this process, thinking about what the audience — the agents — need.

But, as an exercise, it’s helpful for defining my #AWL.

#AWL

Time for a rant. Are you ready, boys and girls? Point of order, sir, but this is as much a whine as it is a rant.

Okay, point accepted. I’m full of complaints and do a lot of poor, poor, pity poor me first-world blues rants. This is another. That aside, let’s rant.

I’ve written fifteen novels. 

People say, “Fifteen? Really?”

Yes, sure, but that’s a number. There’s a story behind the number. There’s an asterisk beside it.

The first novel, as with many writers, was five-star crap. In the crap world, five-stars means it’s the worse possible crap. There’s no crap that exceeds its crappiness. It was an experience, though, that helped me understand more about my writing process.

Knowing that it needed more attention and focus than I was willing to give it, I printed out the stack, along with editing notes, and put it on disks, and set it aside. Someday, I’ll return to you, I promised it.

“Point of order, sir, but, despite that quantity, maybe you’re not a very good writer.”

Thank you for pointing that out. You’re right. That might be the case. I’m trying to do the best that I can. I keep trying to improve.

“Another point, sir.”

What now?

“Isn’t this really about your laziness and unwillingness to learn?”

Excuse me, but who are you? How did you get in here? Out, out, damn you.

Being obstinate, I proceeded to write five more novels. They were probably three-star and four-star crap. I knew where they had problems and what needed to be fixed. I didn’t want to fix them, because I wanted to write more and I didn’t want to bother with editing and revising. I liked writing, not editing and revising. I promised, someday I’ll edit them, but I knew that model a novel and setting it aside for editing and revising at a date TBA was unsustainable.

The next novel that I wrote, I said, “I must edit and revise this one. I need to learn that discipline.”

So, I did it. Yea, me! Sure. I then sought agents. I followed all of their parameters for submitting to them in hopes of persuading them to represent me, find a publisher, and get the novel published.

After almost a year of dealing with that, going through five agents, I hated that process. Maybe, I convinced myself (without too much difficulty), self-publishing is the way to go.

So I did that.

It was another process to learn, with as many obstacles and challenges as Ninja Warrior. Yes, the book was published. Yes, I sold some copies, but not nearly as many as hoped. I knew that I would need to market the book.

Oh, boy, more to learn.

I wanted to write; I didn’t want to learn how to market myself and my wares.

I told myself, someday I will. Then I wrote and self-published three more books, with just as little notice and sales, reminding me again and again, you need to market these books.

But…but…but…

Yeah.

Here I am again, this time with a complete series of five novels. Here I am again at the crossroads. Find an agent? Self-publish? Screw it all and just keep writing?

Not wanting to, first, hunt down a cover designer, copy-editor, acquiring an agent drew me. That’s the original dream, to write a novel, find an agent, have the novel published. In a sense, I’m returning home by taking that route.

Yes, I was again easily persuaded because that self-publishing journey had been less than rewarding and satisfying. I’m hoping that this journey will be more so.

I began with the standard search process. Who is out there? What do they want?

Lo, Jane Friedman had a decent article about finding an agent, and pointed toward #MSWL – Manuscript Wish List. That’s helpful, I thought with new gleams of hope.

Hah.

I have such rose-colored glasses, they should be illegal so that we can all save time and energy.

#MSWL has a search engine. What genre do you want? Put it in. Here’s the results. Wow, pages of results. How exciting.

Not after reading a bit more.

I searched for science-fiction. #MSWL’s search results include whenever science-fiction is mentioned. This includes when agents say, “I don’t want to see any science-fiction.” Ah. That was certainly fucking useful.

I spent hours searching #MSWL and PublishersMarketPlace, seeking someone interested in someone like me. I found some promising folks.

Well, it’s the year’s end. Many of those agents aren’t accepting right now. Check back in a few days, weeks, or months, and then they’ll be happy to see your work.

What agents say they want on their website, in their Twitter blurts, in articles and interviews, and in #MSWL do not align. One will say that they’re looking for SFF or some science-fiction variant while the other locations won’t mention it. Yes, and I understand from my efforts that it’s hard updating everything and every place.

YA seems to remain the hot market, judging from the number of agents hunting for YA manuscripts.

Also clear is that most agents will reply to you if they’re interested. They’ll usually respond in two weeks. However, if they’re not interested, you’re not going to hear back from them. Do not, of course, submit multiple submissions or simultaneous submissions, or anything like that, because that’s not far to them, and please don’t follow-up to see what’s going on with your query. They’re busy, you know.

That was the stake through my heart last time, that one-sided dimension to this whole business. Sipping a glass of medicating wine last night, I reflected that I needed to start #AWL – Author’s Wish Lists. But hell, that’s a short list. We want an agent. We want published. We want a painless process. Who doesn’t? Well, I could stipulate that I want an agent who wants me, that I want an agent who will respond to me to tell me, no, thanks.

Yes, before anyone notifies me of the obvious, that this is a competitive business, and yes, I know how many struggling writers are out there trying to find agents and get published, and, yep, I’m aware that others have gone through this, and that agents have limited resources, so they’re very sorry, but that’s what the situation dictates.

Yes, I know.

My muses are awake. They want to write. Do you see how many stories are out there, waiting to be written?

Rant over. Back to whatever.

 

 

 

 

 

J’accuse Dream

First, this has nothing to do with Zola’s letter, except the title. This is about my dream, aspirations, and doubts.

As background, I finished writing and editing a series of novels called Incomplete States. With that finished, I was moving into the next steps of what to do when you’re written a novel and want to get it published. Options are available.

My dreamscape has been quiet for several days so I didn’t think my decisions would show up in my dreams. But, boom, they came. When I awoke and thought about it, I laughed about what I’d dreamed.

The dream began with a new venture. People were expecting me and had high expectations for what I would do. I was relaxed, going about getting acclimated. As the dream progressed, I learned that I was in the military (again), involved with command and control.

Awakening, I thought, “Of course the military would be included.” I’d spent twenty years in the military. The structure helped me succeed without stretching myself. It was a comfortable existence. I often retreat to it in dreams.

Things quickly began going awry in the dream. I felt constantly behind and a little bit lost. I couldn’t find my uniform. I discovered I was already supposed to be somewhere, and I was late. Scrambling, I rushed to find my uniform, shave, dress, and get to work.

I was naked when my wife came in. “What’s this?” she pointed at my side. I couldn’t see what she referenced.

“Have you seen yourself in the mirror?” she said, and then steered to a mirror. “I think you’d better take a look.”

She pointed out several boils on my side. Horrified, I tried lancing them, and failed. The effort put me behind. Now I really had to scramble.

Awakening, I realized that I was facing my anxieties. “Have you seen yourself in the mirror?” That question seemed like I was trying to pretend to be someone else, and that I wasn’t clearly seeing myself and the situation, that I was misleading myself. And look how I’m blemished and flawed, the things I don’t see about myself, how I’m fooling myself. I took all of that about my publishing ambitions.

Finding shaving cream, I hunted down a mirror and started applying it to shave. The shaving cream was thick and brown. Crude and unfinished, I thought after awakening and reflecting on the dream, just as I worry that others will think about the series. 

Another military member in uniform stuck their head in the window. “What are you doing?” I said.

“Looking at someone using a mirror,” he said. “I’ve never seen that done before. I was wondering what it’s like.”

How absurd, I thought, but, awakening, I realized that I was questioning even the most basic aspects of myself. I remembered reading about experiments involving animals mirrors. Looking in a mirror and realizing that you’re seeing yourself is used to explore animal intelligence and self-awareness. By implying that I (as another entity in the dream) didn’t know how to use a mirror was a question about my self-awareness and intelligence.

A phone rang and I answered it. “We have an inflight emergency,” a male voice said. “We need you here to decide what to do.”

I was appalled. “But I don’t know what I’m doing.”

“Then you’re not coming?”

“No.” I hung up.

I didn’t need to think much about that aspect after awakening. The message behind the words seem nakedly clear, as did the next dream segment.

A chief master sergeant that I’d worked for during my first tour called me to him. “I’m sorry,” he said, “but this isn’t working out. To be honest, I expected more of you. It didn’t work out so I’m sending you back home.”

“‘But Chief,” I protested, but he wouldn’t listen to me.

Yes, it was all there, all the doubts, uncertainty, and uncertainty, along with rejection by a person in authority who I admired.

I thought I’d mastered these things, demonstrating again how easily I can fool myself. Yes, those doubts exist. Hell, they exist with the majority of efforts that anyone does. To reach and succeed, failure, ridicule, and exposure must be risked. These doubts are always in me, no matter how many times I’ve succeeded, or how often I’ve been reassured by myself and others. That’s just part of who I am.

While it gave me a good laugh to see how earnestly my subconscious mind (and thus, me) attacked me, it hasn’t changed anything. It’s there, and I know it, but I’m stepping out.

Cheers

 

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: