Sunday, April 14, 2013

(In)constant Reader

I recently realized I haven't done the whole WHAT I'M READING thing lately, which is in large part because the answer to that is an unrelenting: TEXTBOOKS. When I'm not reading one, I'm generally too exhausted to read for fun, so I watch something instead. It bums me out to read something recreationally only to realize I'm too tired to pay attention. Better to zone out to a Nova program about ants.

Except, for Spring Break, I did read a book--a real live book, on paper and all! Except, it was so small, and the print and line-spacing so big, maybe it wasn't really a real book. I didn't do the math or anything but there were only a hundred or so little pages. I feel like it was a novella stretched out into book format because, well, it was by Joe R. Lansdale, and people will buy a novella by him even if it's pretending to be a novel--just barely.

Not that it was a bad book--no, I liked it, even if the plot felt pretty simplistic and overly moralistic as compared to his stuff I've liked the most (which either implies I have plenty on morals of my own, or the opposite, maybe? Hmm...). A couple times in the book he makes the point that what's going on isn't a movie, but real life (to the characters!) and seemingly we should accept this as the reason why the plot is so linear and undramatic. I don't dislike novellas, as they don't drag on forever, but I also don't feel like a book should be that short. Maybe put two novellas in there for me?

So there's that. And now I'm working my way through Misery by Stephen King, because I heard at some point someone gets a leg axed off or murdered with a lawnmower and I will  read 350 pages for that. Yes indeedy. Also, it's the kind of writing that's easy to follow, entertaining. If I space out for a paragraph, I won't miss an enormous plot point like sentient moon-cats overrunning the earth. Probably.

Otherwise, I have a book on African Art, one on Modern Art, one on 19th Century Art, one on Art Theory, and one on How To Write About Art. All of which I should be reading right now?

Just nobody tell my teachers, I'll get there soon!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Fly, Birdie, Fly!!!

So I was settling down for a long and intensive school term (four classes plus two jobs equals what? No life!) this last week, starting to think of topics for term papers (about 50 pages' worth of them). Good thing I sent out a dozen fiction submissions during Spring Break, as I feel I won't have time again until Summer Break.

Less than two weeks after, my replies have started trickling in--already two or three stories have been shot down on the wing (what can I say? When submitting to a new market for the first time you just throw something and see what happens. Even after reading a couple issues you can't know how *your* work will be received alongside that). After about a year of trying to sell, I'd developed the impression that a quick response from a publisher meant they were REALLY not into the story. Because if they like something they'll hang onto it and mull it over and compare your overuse of parentheticals to other stories they really like, right? (Well, so I thought.) And seeing as rejects have already been coming so fast and furious back at me this go around...

So yesterday when I got a response from a story I expected the same deal--they'd read it fast and decided, just as quickly, not to give it a second thought. When, to my surprise, it was an acceptance! Woohoo! Maybe I shouldn't be celebrating until after the contract comes in, goes back, and gets me paid!!! But I can't help it because, well, woohoo!

This story (sigh, sniffle, wipe a nostalgic tear from my eye) was my first foray into science fiction. If you want to call it that, but there's an equal amount of fantasy in it. It's also a modern day tale, which I really have to be in the mood for to write.

Also, I think I wrote out the original all in one miraculously undistracted sitting, but this may just be the nostalgia wiping out the memories of pain and agony that generally accompany fiction writing. Right?

When I excitedly told my brother, who did a first reading of the story, that it had been accepted (I wrote it over a year ago, he read it maybe 6-8 months ago), he said, "Oh. I didn't like that one."

To which my response totally wasn't to sass back, "Shows what you know about selling fiction then, or quality, or saleability, or science fiction-space-college-fantasy-comedy-dramas full of biblical references and drunk pot-smoking co-eds."

Instead I was more like, "Yeah, whatever. But it sold!"

Which cheers me up. I liked the story a lot when I wrote it (anything that you can bang out all in one sitting--or believe you did--generally fits this description), while I still put it aside for quite a while before submitting it  anywhere (first try!!!). Why? Because I didn't really know if anyone would take a story with so much weird stuff going on and somewhere along my fictional career, too, I've developed the impression--not just from myself but from others--that comedy doesn't sell. Not that it's a flat-out hilarious farce, but .... when you get really attached to a story you don't want it to fail. Even if that means nervously holding onto it, uncertain whether or not to hide it from the world and keep it safe, or throw it out and see if it can fly on its own. I don't want something I'm really proud of to get shot down, but do I really want it to sit around and gather dust, either? Shouldn't people see it?

I suppose on that front I should say I got a smidge of feedback on one of my rejected stories so far--one line of why they didn't like it, but personalized, not a generic 'no thanks'. Another one I really like and want the best for. And seeing as that's true, it'll do me good to take that line of advice, consider its value, and see if I can't use it to improve the story for its next go around.

But, until then, woohoo!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

An Easter Miracle!

Seeing as it marked the end of Spring Break, freedom, writing, and even the sunshine we'd been experiencing for a few days, I wasn't all that excited about Easter in the days leading up to it. Then, on Saturday, my car decided to approach death's door as I drove to work. Meaning that I had to wait for my family to get out of church (after I was done working) so they could drive behind me just in case the poor thing breathed its last on the way home.

It did stall a few times, but we made it home. A veritable Easter miracle!

Once home, we all sat down and had some Easter candy--you know, taste-testing to make sure it was good for the next day. And that's when my brother said, "Oh, and this came for you in the mail today," and gave me a package.

Which turned out to be this:

My copy of Daughters of Icarus--my first publication! Woohoo! Best Easter present ever!

Naturally I've read about half of the book since then--and it's all pretty awesome! I'm surprised at the wide array of stories, settings, and themes; but then, that's what they were going for in this anthology, I do believe. You should get a copy. Which you can, here:

Reading my own story again, which I originally wrote 3-4 years ago and haven't reread since sending it out 8 months ago, I'm sort of surprised at how good it sounds. And, also, at how much my writing has changed, even in subtle things like sentence structure, since this. And yet, somehow, it was likable enough to go in the anthology alongside previously published authors. Which makes for a good bit of encouragement to keep on writing and improving all the time.

Huzzah! Cheers! Now, on to the next publication!

And in the meantime, I'll read the rest of this and get down to some homework. Yes indeedy, school is back in session!