Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Hey Baby! Wanna Dance?

So as I mentioned yesterday I am having commitment issues. No, not with my fabulous wife ... with my writing. Here's where I'm at right now, writing wise.

Plundered Booty is finished and I have began querying.

I've been working on a few short stories, but for me they feel more like one night stands and while they are fun for a while, I'm more of a long term relationship kind of guy. I need a novel so that I can sink my teeth into a group of characters and story. I applaud the short story writer that is full of ideas and can roll from one story into another. That is not me. For the most part, I need to spend vast quantities of time with my fictional peeps to really make them come alive.

But committing to that long term relationship is easier said than done. In many ways it is no easier than finding that special someone to spend your life with.

Some of those brilliant flashes turn out to be momentary lust. An idea that sounds great in your head and gets you excited doesn't always have enough substance to sustain your initial enthusiasm. And there is no worse feeling as a writer than waking up six months into a project realizing you no longer like, much less love all those words resting on the white pillowy pages beside you.

Sadly, sometimes you have to spend a good bit of time with your ideas before you realize she talks to plants, cats, and parakeets because they are the only things capable of tolerating her craziness. Wait, I was talking about books. Sorry, didn't mean to meander off the path.

And even if you weed through the bad, sometimes the choices are still tough.

Maybe you fall in love with an idea, but are afraid that your parents -- I mean agents, editors, and ultimately book buyers will not see it's charm. Sure love is love, but it's nice if someone pays for the wedding. Otherwise, you and your book might have to elope to Vegas get hitched in the Chapel of PublishAmerica. That's not a very solid foundation for a marriage, I mean career.

Then there is the fear that this next book is your rebound love. You find yourself comparing it's characters to your last works protagonist. Over time it might not measure up. You start asking yourself. What if my last book takes off. What if it sells well? What if my agent, editor or readers expect a book just like the last one? What if they dump me for a waiter they met at the Cracker Barrel?

If you're not a writer and you've managed to read this far let me answer the question now on your mind. Yes, we writers are that neurotic.

And then, even when you do fall head over heels in love and say this is is this is the one for me, you're still not out of the woods. The questions come. Can I write this or is the story too big? Can I love honor and obey? Provide for, shelter, and remain faithful? Trust me it ain't easy to make a commitment with such doubts filling your head. That is where I am at.

Right now I'm sitting in the literary lounge staring across the smoke-filled room at a handful of beauties. Some are familiar, some are not. Let me describe them in an effort to explain why I can't decide to ask who wants to dance.

Bachelorette #1

I have this desire to rewrite my very first novel. A tale of love and lies set in small town Texas. I still believe in the plot and now that I am a better writer I think I could make the story work. But I failed to nurture the relationship the last time, otherwise it would be sitting in Barnes and Noble right now rather than my hard-drive. Even though a draft of this one is complete, there is a good bit of work needed. One POV character needs a complete overhaul as does a portion of the plot and the whole thing needs more humor. But we all know it ain't easy to change someone. Then again you never get over your first love.

Bachelorette #2

She's new and shiny, but is my attraction based in lust. Will the story be enough to sustain a novel. And there is that pesky research that could get me in trouble. (Think trains and hobos) The excitement of starting anew is on the side of this one but many many details would still need to be worked out. I'd be starting from scratch, but this one would be the most likely to satisfy readers who liked Plundered Booty.

Bachelorette # 3

A novel a started, but abandoned when a few trusted people in the business said it would be a hard sale. A dark comedy with a complex plot and an unhappy but satisfying ending. I already failed to form a lasting relationship once, is it worth trying again? This one has my personal eye, but in this day and age you have to choose project with the market in mind. Yesterday's snippet comes from chapter three of this one. I have four already written. Very Un-Booty-ish should that novel find a home.

Bachelorette #4

Another comedy with strong elements of women's fiction. I ditched her for Plundered Booty. If I really loved her would I have been able to do that? And I'm still a big hairy Texan and I know from past experience people seem to doubt my ability to write women's fiction before they've read a single word. But it's a fun story involving bull semen, a myspace addiction, and bass fishing. I've already written a hundred pages of this story. Somewhat Booty-ish.

Stay tuned I let you know when I select a dance partner.

Got any advice?


pattinase (abbott) said...

God, and I love the shorts. It's the long-time commitment that makes me wince. Months on something no good. Yikes.

Kristen Painter said...

You have a really warped mind, you know that? I mean that in good way. Mostly. lol

Deciding what to write is a tough one. You've just got to listen to your gut and trust it.

Georgie B said...

Can understand the commitment thing. My first one was basically a "shotgun marriage".

The second is a little more difficult as I've been working on it for almost a year. Started it, dropped it for awhile, came back again, now it's away for awhile.

Just like a volatile shotgun marriage.

BTW: I would go with Bachelorette #3. A dark comedy would get me attention. Think "Grosse Point Blank".

Monnik said...

no advice here, but this is a really good analogy.

And good luck picking a bachelorette.

Angie Ledbetter said...

I'd dance with B#1. Who wouldn't kill for a chance to "rewrite" their first love...adding in all the missing elements and deleting the less-than-perfect aspects?

preTzel said...

You crack me up! Sometimes a short story can turn in to something even more. Hell, I was a one night stand once. We've now been married over 12 years. See? :D

huddlekay said...

I remember you reading the bull semen story at last years conference. I've been waiting for you to bring that out again... The first 3 pages alone had me laughing.. But then again the one you have your personal eye on is intriguing as well.. hmmm I see your problem.

I'm half-way through Plundered Booty by the way and people at work keep giving me strange looks because it makes me laugh out loud!
And I almost couldn't read it... My pharmacist kept taking it away from me. This is a good sign-he doesn't even read!)I'll have to read it again though because I keep getting caught up in the story and forget to critique!

Packsaddle said...

I think you should "dance with the one that brung ya" and stick with what you know best: women's issues.

Perhaps you could write something like "The Psychology of Menstruation", but weave some humor into it (if that is possible).

If anybody can pull it off it would be you.

I personally would never buy the book, but, then again, I wouldn't be part of your target market either.

(for the record, if you ever write anything about fishing or high-powered weaponry, I'll be the first in line at your book signing event)

sex scenes at starbucks said...

I'm currently writing linked stories set in one world. Now, linked collections are a bitch to sell, so I'm marketing them separately. But that way I get to go into my world and set a spell, while meeting a whole lotta interesting folks along the way. And then, wham bam thank you ma'am, er, 4000 words later I'm on to my next hunkaburninlove, er, story.

In other words, my WIP is simmering on the back burner. I'm waiting on it to boil over, but I can't just sit there.

Sorry for the mixed metaphors. I read like 150 K words for the magazine in the past three days so I'm a bit... off.

Short version: Advice? Write a short story about each one and see how they stick...

Lexi said...

LOL! Totally feeling your pain as I struggle to do revisions (AGAIN) and decide which story is next!

Lisa J. Pawlowski said...

You're singing to the choir preacher boy!

Lisa J. Pawlowski said...

You're singing to the choir preacher boy!

Charles Gramlich said...

If you can't be with the one you love, Travis. Love the one you're with.

Joshua said...

you know what i'm thinking ... menage a 4! combine them all and let the orgy of fun begin. :)

Mystery Robin said...

Door number 4, my friend, and here's why:

Number 3 is out for now because it's a hard sale. Let's face it, breaking into this fiction biz is hard enough, you don't need a first novel that's maybe a hard sell. Come back to that after Booty lands you an agent and your next book is all written up.

Number 1 is tempting, but I've found it's really hard to revamp what's already on the page. It's just hard to break out of that mold that's already been set down. You might want to revisit this, but I'd put a little more distance yet between you and your first love.

Number two is the runner up - but I give preference to four for having 100 pages written. The hardest part for me is getting traction in the beginning. If you hit the ground running with four, then you can come back to two when you're done that much sooner. Also, you have time to hop a train while writing 4, let the research sink in, then really tackle 2.

Hope that helps!

FWIW, I struggle with the same sorts of questions. The novel I'm conceiving of is always more attractive to me than the novel I'm writing. Fortunately, I've managed to stay with my DH for nearly 9 years so it must not translate completely!

the walking man said...

Choose 3, choose may be a varied relationship that comes away with everything back in the closet but if brought to the light of day it may also prove to be the most satisfying.

Lindy said...

I'd go with either Bachelorette #1 and #3. I'd start with #3- if you really believe it. Industry know-it-alls want the next Ian Rankin.

deborah elliott-upton said...

I'm in exactly the same place as you. I've been waiting for that knight in shining armor and it seems though I see him in the distance, I worry he won't be all I imagined when he draws nearer -- perhaps I need to look elsewhere in the castle. I heard someone held in the dungeon could be quite interesting. It's a place I rarely go and that seems a bit scary...

Melissa Marsh said...

Can't do short stories very well, as evidenced by my last rejection. Think I'll stick to novels from now on.

My only advice is to go with the one that speaks to you the loudest and the one you have the most passion for.

Your wife said...

You hillbilly hobo...Your so funny. I hear a small town in Texas calling for you. You should always try old lovers they know you and know what you like. If they were pleasing to the eye in the first place they will be now.

Melanie Avila said...

Shiny new!

Cheryl Wray said...

I just love how you categorized your ideas as "Bachelorettes." Classic!

My problem is this...I write nonfiction for a living. I have no problem writing my articles, and even the nonfiction books I've done. And I'm always pleased with how they work out.

But...I still have this desire inside of me to write a novel, or (lately) a book of essays. And still...I can't get myself motivated to begin. I think it's because I am comfortable in my nonfiction; I know I can do it. To do something else is more risky, outside of my comfort zone.

Congrats on finishing your book and getting it sent out. I look forward to hearing how it goes!!

peggy said...

Just popped over from Book roast and had to mention...what a fun blog you have here! Man, I feel your pain, where to go..what to do next, the answer is?

Do what makes you happy! You make me laugh and laughing makes endorphins and endorphins makes the human race well,..well.
Well I mean, laughter (endorphins) really IS the best medicine.

ChrisEldin said...

Plundered Booty, Travis. Keep your eyes on the prize. Do it til you can't no more. Then do it some more.
I'm being a bit playful, but I'm serious. You;re going through some emotional loops. Polish your first one until you're satisfied, then move to the one you want to work on next. I don't think it will take you very long.

But if you start new projects, I'm thinking it will take you longer to ramp up. Plus you'll have this in the back of your head.

Just my two cents. I figure if someone asks for a specific opinion, they oughtta get one.

dee said...

well, her's my 2 cents....I'd put #1 in a drawer for can never go home again and you're always 17 in your matter how you change that first one, its never seems quite right...we already talked about my opinion that you absolutely can write good women's fiction, but only with your own unique voice, with elements that you know and love...therefore I vote for #4...I'd recommend at the very least an extended affair and who knows, maybe a love child named NYT Best risk, no reward...

Junosmom said...

Congratulations on finishing!

jerseygirl89 said...

As someone who only does the speed-dating type of writing through my blog these days, I'm not one to give advice here. But I admit a total curiosity about how you link bull semen and bass fishing.

Barbara Martin said...

You should go ahead with the women's fiction, Travis. Don't hesitate because someone put you through the agent gears. There is a publisher out there who will like that story.

And dark comedy can be fun. Go with it.