Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Writing Edition of Terrible Tuesdays with Travis

Here it is Tuesday yet again and there are no riveting stories at the forefront of my mind. Not of a time I did somebody wrong and got paid back two-fold, no misadventures where my own stupidity led to my harm, and nary a, woe is me tale of medical mishap. So what to talk about. Well when all else fails I fall back to a discussion on my writing career.

So here it is the writing themed, Terrible Tuesday with Travis.

Writing, and the pursuit of publication is fraught with more ups and downs than bordellos bedsprings. I have had good days and not so good days. But what is the worst?

Once upon a time I wrote query letter after query letter to agents seeking representation. As a result I received a very impressive collection of form rejection letters. Then one day I ripped open one of my returned Self Addressed Stamped Envelopes and spotted the unmistakable scribbling of real live, handwritten ink. My hopes soared. Then I read the personalized note. Sorry, but you meandering story telling and excessive verbiage does not appeal to me now or never.

OUCH! But looking back that agent was right. My sample pages as well as the entire manuscript was not ready submission. I could take a bit of solace int eh fact that particular fellow is no longer an agent, but I don't. His words hurt at the time but they were true and a great motivator in the end.

How about the first time I entered the contest for our local conference? I was confident eager, feeling good that I would at least make the finals. But nope, not with my novel or the three short stories I entered. And then I got the judges remarks back. Trust me you had to search hard and long for a silver lining to that cloud of despair. But I have since cashed checks from numerous contests including those so once again I filed that experience into the motivator file.

No one with a penis between their legs has the right to write a single word about abortion. Yep I heard that one face to face within the last year. Needless to say that particular editor did not ask to read more of my novel. Not even when I mentioned Cider House Rules bu John Irving. In truth this one didn't shake me too bad. I think I handled myself well in both our initial talk and then again later when she started to apologize and then uttered the statement from above. This happened fairly recently and these days I have enough confidence in both my writing and the story to not take such a comment too hard.

Then there was the time I got into a heated, forty-five minute discussion with a seventy something year old critique partner about the usage of the F word in literature. Some how I became the Johnny Cochran of literary obscenities and only later did I find it highly humorous that I had debated the F with a little old lady for nearly an hour. Not my proudest moment but I still stand by my argument that sometimes no other word will work. Depends on the story and the character.

A close contender might be the time an agent read the entire manuscript, called me to talk about it, then passed, albeit regrettably. I let my hopes get up too much on that one and at least I got close. Besides she urged me to send her future projects and not only would I be honored to one day work with her, but I also believe I get better with each new project I tackle.

So,t hat still doesn't answer to question. What is my worst days when it comes to writing. I've known the answer all along but what kind of writer spills the beans right off the bat?

My worst writing days are the days in which I do no writing at all. These are the dark times when I kick myself and say, You could have penned three or four pages in the time it took to play that one game of John Madden Football. Or that one hour of television cost you at least two pages. By the way i watched K-Ville last night and highly recommend the new show, but then again I have a real soft spot for the entire city of New Orleans.

See how easily I am distracted? Any way I feel like I have neglected my writing lately so for the time being expect a few less posts out of me. Three or four a week instead of five or six. And I might comment a bit less on your blogs, at least until I finish Plundered Booty the novel. My goal is to be submitting it by the first of the year. Wish me luck.

18 comments:

Stephen Parrish said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stephen Parrish said...

You're right about the F word. Sometimes no other word comes anywhere fucking close.

angel, jr. said...

At least you have tried to find representation, have tried to send your writing out there. Despite what you believe, there is an audience that will appreciate your prose and the way you choose to express yourself.

Jason said...

Break a leg.

Angie said...

I've never read any of your fiction, but just going by your blog posts my opinion (for whatever it's worth) is that whatever issues you might still be working on, you can tell a story. I always look forward to reading your posts, and even when they're about something I have absolutely no interest in whatsoever, like football for example, the specific story you're telling is always entertaining and usually makes me laugh.

Being able to do that, to tell a good story and engage the audience -- that's the hard part. Whatever else you might be dealing with is just craftsmanship and so long as you keep on working on your writing, it's just a matter of time.

And if we ever run into each other in realspace, we can roll up our sleeves and compare critique scars. [wince/laugh]

Angie

Monnik said...

Oh boy. I can TOTALLY relate to this statement:

You could have penned three or four pages in the time it took to play that one game of John Madden Football.

Except for me, it's goofing around online, reading blogs, and checking out celebrity outfits on People.com.

I also agree on the F word, but can see where a little old lady might disagree. :)

WordVixen said...

By the first of the year? Absolutely good luck! I'm always impressed by writers to can buckle down to a task- for me it's almost like excercise. I know it's good for me, I know I'll regret not doing it, but checking my blog stats one more time, or trying to beat my best score on (fill in name of game) is just too tempting to pass up.

Ello said...

Travis,
Best of luck to you! I am hoping to finish my edits this month to send out my novel "Thousand Year Silence" out to the sharks by October or November. It keeps getting pushed off as I procrastinate. I think in part from fear. I am normally the thickest skinned person out there but I admit to being scared about the whole process. Thanks for posting your take.

Ell

Shauna said...

When people ask me why I don't try writing a book, I just laugh. I honestly haven't the ambition. Do characters in my head keep me up at night? Yes. But they'll just have to wait to tell me their story. I have three small children who need to tell me everything about their days. I haven't got time to listen to more. Not even the stories in my head.

Good luck, Travis, with the writing. I'll be a little sad to see less posts, but I'm looking forward to the novel!

As to the F word. Though not my favorite, it can work in character.

Bubblewench said...

Best of luck. Let us know when we can pre-order on Amazon.

Bernita said...

If you can contine to produce killer lines like "bordello bedsprings" - I think you'll make it

alex keto said...

Uh, Travis, I don't want to make a big deal out of the quote, "No one with a penis between their legs has the right to write a single word about abortion."
But, out of curiosity, was the person who said it familiar with how babies get made, and if not, did you tell her that scientists have gotten to the bottom of the issue?

Charles Gramlich said...

Thanks for sharing. Some great stories of the writing life here. I should post on this myself I suppose. I've had some of those kinds of days. Good luck with your book.

Mr. Shife said...

Good luck. And rejection is hard, which is probably why I don't take my writing more seriously. But keep up the good work - you can do it. By the way, the Vandals were named after these guys, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vandals.

Phats said...

Hmm where were you when I was in college writing all my papers, you could have come in handy for sure

Katrina said...

Travis, I certainly don't know how you have kept up the pace with the blog. My hat is off to you! Great entertaining stories and I'm amazed how you have posted something every day.

My blog seems to languish when I'm either writing diligently on another project or LIFE crashes over me with unending waves that leave me gulping for a breathe.

Good luck to you on Plundered Bounty! I'm looking forward to reading it when it's published.

Brooke said...

I can only comfortably write about myself. Fiction? Yes I do but no one can read it because I find THAT too personal.

Yes, I make no sense.

Jenster said...

I say congratulations on all your rejections letters. At least you're getting stuff out there!

I'm looking forward to my first rejection letter. Seriously. It means you're doing something you're supposed to be doing.