Officially putting myself out there

stephen-king-excercise

So, I have decided (with the blessings of a couple of people) to post the Stephen King exercise. Not only that, I’m going to post the first draft! Oh my gosh! Say it ain’t so! It is so! You guys will see every mistake, every awkward phrase, every failed attempt at conveying a thought…I haven’t even gone over it once. I think I’m doing this because Stephen King did it in his book, On Writing. He put his first draft and then his edited draft of “1408” into the end of the book, and I thought that was very effective. Even masters have a lot of re-editing to do. I am copying him and posting the first, unedited first draft. Once things calm down with work and moving, I will go back to the story and proceed with the second draft. In the meantime, comments (of course, comments must abide by the rules put forth in “Correct me, please” :) ) are welcome.

Note: The exercise had to do with writing about an abusive relationship….how everything starts out fine, then things go wrong. But he wanted the abuser to be the woman. I thought of going really psychotic with the story, but decided a slight dramatic flare to it would be enough. The things that happen in the story would probably be more prone to happen in a soap opera (albeit it, a well written soap opera), but you know what, sometimes life really be’s that way…

Published in: on August 13, 2008 at 12:23 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Jumping back on the book bandwagon

I used to be an avid reader when I was younger. Then I went to law school. After reading (or supposedly reading) pages upon pages of dull, lifeless text, I really just had no desire to read anymore, even for fun. So for about four years, I didn’t read any fiction novels. I began reading People and US Weekly magazines, just because I needed something mind-numbing. Reading anything more complicated would mean I would have to think, and what little thinking I did was reserved for trying to make it through law school. Then I decided to quite the law…and I found that I wanted to start reading for fun again.

Stephenie Meyer wrote the Twilight series about one of my favorite fictional topics, vampires. Vampires falling in love with normal girls. I used to fantasize about crazy things like that happening to me, ever since I watched a high school production of Dracula and dreamed about Count Dracula biting my neck the way he did the lead actress. Ohhh, how insanely delicious, I thought, and still think. So, it seemed natural to get into Ms. Meyer’s books. But I just didn’t get into them…I began to obsess. I took the books everywhere with me…I couldn’t stop reading. It was like a flood gate had been opened, and my being, having craved such wondrous words for so long, could not get enough. I flew through the three books she had written, and I am now patiently (has to be patiently, because when one is broke, buying a $30 book is a super, duper special treat) waiting to buy the fourth installment.

Since those books, I have become almost psychotic about reading. In the last four months, I have read more books than I have in years. I am sure being unemployed has helped this wonderful surge in reading, but I want to believe that once I get a job, I won’t stop. It feels great. It feels awesome, wonderful, amazing. It feels free. I can’t believe I ever stopped doing it. A good book is almost like good sex (haha…just kidding, mom and dad…isn’t like I would know what that is like, being a virgin and all). After you read it, you just feel so satisfied, so content, so…so good!

OK, it has been a long day. New York is still kicking my ass, and simply going from point A to point B is an exhausting experience. I did, however, go to Barnes and Noble and buy myself a book. I know, I know…I have no money. But it was a treat to myself, and it is actually a book about how to write children’s books. And it wasn’t $30 (come on Stephenie, help a poor girl out!). Stephen King said in his book, On Writing, “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” I have been doing relatively well with the first…now, I need to definitely work on the latter.

Published in: on August 1, 2008 at 1:01 am  Leave a Comment  

Reality is my Narcodex

So yeah, I am definitely having a hard time keeping this blog up. I keep telling myself, I will start writing in it more often, but something always gets in the way. This time it is reality. Being broke, having no job, not having my own apartment (big ups to Adia for putting up with my ass in a cute, but small studio apartment), it all just makes me tired. I am just tired all the damn time right now. Writing feels like a luxury, and although I know this is wrong, it just seems like if I do that instead of finding a job or a place to live, I just feel bad. Besides that, reality has a way of numbing my creativity. Stuff is so stressful right now, I can barely read let alone write without thinking, hmm, I wonder how I will afford to eat today.

So, I’m going to stop making promises on this blog. I will write when the desire hits me.

And oh, for whoever is reading this, I don’t know if Narcodex is a real word, but Google sort of said it was, so that is enough for me.  So there.

Published in: on July 30, 2008 at 12:30 pm  Leave a Comment  

Dream big, start small

It hit me a month ago that maybe I’m not going about this writing thing in the best way. I am an extreme person…it’s either all or nothing with me. When I wanted to go to college, I had to go to a top five university. When I wanted to learn German, I didn’t just go to Germany once, but four different times, one of those times being for a year. When I wanted to do something that would “push my intellectual stimulation” and at some point in the near future help me earn mad dough, I went to law school. I don’t do things in a “small” way. So, when I decided to “become a writer,” I began writing a book. A damn book. Do y’all know what the average word count for a book is? Well, somewhere in between 50,000 and 60,000, and that is on the lower end. So far, I have around 35,000. Like I said, I don’t do things small.

I have tried sending out book proposals to various publishing agencies, because I didn’t think I needed to deal with a middle man. Go straight to the source, is what I told myself. Literary agencies? They are for people who are don’t do things big time, for people who are ok with waiting. Of course, this was my nice way of deluding myself. As the rejection letters from the publishing companies began to return to me, I thought, hmmm, maybe I should start sending my stuff to literary agents. When I started receiving rejection letters from literary agents, I had to rethink the whole process…what the hell was I doing, how was I really going to go about it, and how was I going to suddenly get the patience needed for the task that now lay ahead of me?

I decided to take a break from trying to get my book published all together. I decided I was going to focus on just writing. I mean, how am I going to go from being a lawyer, to being a teacher of juvenile delinquents, to being a bum in Jamaica and Australia, then suddenly to some accomplished writer? When was the last time I actually wrote creatively before law school? It had been years, so I decided I need to practice…to make sure that this is what I really wanted in the first place. And I wrote…I wrote multiple short stories, I wrote a children’s book, and I started applying for writing gigs with online magazines. Of those online magazines, I have two possibilities of writing with seemingly legit sites. Hopefully soon, I will have a link to my work on those sites…it isn’t a published book, but it is a start…and pretty cool start, if I do say so myself.

Published in: on July 19, 2008 at 2:25 pm  Leave a Comment  

We are the music makers and we are the dreamers of dreams…

When I was in college, I used to dance in musicals. Before each musical, our group, fondly called Hoof ‘n Horn, would recite these words and the rest of the poem, written by Arthur O’Shaughnessy, to get ourselves hyped up. These words were always magical to me…they truly made me feel that we could do whatever we wanted. I had been pretty much told and convinced that Duke University was an awesome, sensible college and that I was privileged to be there. My family had always supported my decisions to dance and play the oboe in the band, but never had said “you can actually make a career out of it.” When I scored a high grade on my SATs, the words “Oh wow, now you can become a backup dancer for Janet Jackson” (which was truly a dream of mine) never crossed their lips. What did come out of their mouths was “you can go to Duke with that score.” And so I did. Duke was great, a great school, no doubt, and I did want to go. But what made me happiest wasn’t the curriculum, the intellectual dribble spit out from the intellectual snobs during classes…it was when I danced that I felt most alive. Because we were the music makers and we were the dreamers of dreams.

So what did I do? I studied German and Comparative Area Studies. I went to Germany to teach for a year. I worked as an administrative assistant for the LL.M. in Bankruptcy Program at St. John’s School of Law. And then I went to Georgetown University Law Center. I stopped dancing. I pretty much stopped dreaming.

A year ago, I started writing…and it felt good. I felt like I was rediscovering that creative young woman who had once graced a stage with poise, grace and excitement. Me with my laptop, in cafes, in libraries, writing…writing pages upon pages at a time. It felt natural, like I had been missing some crucial part of me for some time, and finding it was amazing.

I told my mom. She actually giggled a bit, but she asked to read my writing. She read it. Her comment, “Wow, you can actually write! And you are actually funny!” Thanks mom. But I appreciated her desire to actually read my writing. She has been incredibly supportive ever since. Now, the rest of my family, their support has been somewhat lacking. I mean, writing isn’t going to Duke or Georgetown Law, now is it? As some close family members just told me, “That’s like being an artist or something.” The look of distaste on their faces was hard to miss. They actually said “forget this writing thing…what can you do to make an actual income?” Dismissed me without even asking if I was any good, if they could read my stuff to judge for themselves. Writing is a dream, but what if it isn’t an impossible dream? And why are people so loathe to believe that dreams can come true? When did we become so cynical…I mean, people make their dreams come true all the time, why can’t I? Don’t get me wrong…I do need an income. I am so broke, even the creditors have gotten the picture and have stopped calling me (OK, OK, my phone has been disconnected, so that is probably the main reason they aren’t calling anymore). So I will get a 9-5 or whatever type of job to make ends meet. But I am going to keep writing. And everyone who doesn’t agree can kiss my music making and dreaming behind.

Published in: on July 5, 2008 at 2:40 pm  Comments (1)  

I’m not saying this agency(ies) is/are sketchy…but I am just saying…

So, back to this supposed literary agency that wants to represent me. Let’s start from the beginning, shall we? A little over a week ago, I googled (yes, I used it as a verb…that is what writers are allowed to do, make up words, turn personal nouns into verbs, and since I fancy myself a writer now, I will do so if I please J) “literary agents in New York.” I had only sent my manuscript for my book about the trials (pun is so totally intended…mainly because I’m not that funny, and when I have an opportunity to be, no matter how silly and lame, and I take it) and tribulations of law school to one literary agency, an agency a former law professor had told me about. He had taught a woman, I believe, and now she was a literary agency. But beyond that, I haven’t sent my stuff to other agents. I have sent it to a few publishing companies, but I wasn’t having luck with that, and after doing more research and speaking with people in the industry, I figured that my stuff just isn’t ready to send out yet. So, when I googled “literary agency in New York,” I actually wasn’t trying to find an agency to send my books to. I was trying to find a place I could get a job as an admin assistant or something similar. It has popped into my head that I should work at a place where I would be surrounded by writing constantly, and in the meantime, get a better understanding of the process of a writer/agent relationship. It has crossed my mind that if this whole writing thing doesn’t work, I will probably delve into the world of representation. I have that whole legal background, that I don’t remember a damn thing I learned. Still, being a literary agent, a personal agent, any kind of agent for someone has struck me as kind of cool. But that would be Plan C or Plan D (I don’t know how many plans I have, but I seem to have quite a few…oh, to be young, double degreed, and fucking confused). OK, getting to the point…the following website popped up: http://www.newyorkliteraryagency.com/. I perused the page, thought it looked fine, then actually saw a link that talked about submissions. I clicked on that, found that the process for submitting a blurb about my work to them would be easy, and so I did it. The end. A few days later, I get this long ass email from the “Acquisitions Director” saying they are interested and want to see more of my work. Woo hoo! So, my dumbass sends them a chapter or two, and a few days ago, they say they want to represent me. Yeah, something just didn’t feel right, especially when I got to the part where they were like “In order for this relationship to begin, you need to get your work critique, and it will cost $70-$90…oh, you don’t have anyone you know who can do that? Wow, we just happen to have people we can refer you to!” I have never heard of this critique thing before, and it really may be part of the industry and getting your book published. But it just felt wrong. I mean, if an agent wants to represent you, don’t they help you out with that for free?

So, with all these bad feelings I was getting, I turned to my trusty friend and sometimes verb, Google. Here is where I will show my dumbness. Please don’t hold it against me. I think I was craving some positive feedback, I really didn’t care from where at that point. So, when it came from this agency, I jumped at it. Now, if you go to this website, you will find the similar information of NY Agency, but under a different name: http://www.wlwritersagency.com/. Now try this website…what do you get? Different name, similar content: http://writersbookpublishingagency.com/.

I’m sure you get my point. I would bet they have a few other websites under different names. Well, what is the harm in this, you may ask? There may be an umbrella agency and they have different agencies underneath, right? Yeah, well, I thought that too, but I could never find one agency and a name of all the agencies that was under it. Each website, though they look legit, never actually gives you concrete information. There is no telephone number…um sketch. They never give an address of where they are located. Sketchier. They give one name, Sherry Fine. I delved deeper, using one of the many names of this agency, and came up with this website: http://www.sfwa.org/Beware/twentyworst.html. The website says to beware of agencies that do the following:

2. Paid editing or publishing referrals–including placing clients with vanity publishers, promoting their own paid editing services to clients (a conflict of interest), sending clients/potential clients to an outside editing service that pays kickbacks for referrals. Several of these agencies are no more than fronts for editing services.

And oh, nifty little site gives a list of agencies to beware of? Which one is on there? Scroll to the bottom of the list and you will see Writers Literary Agency along with ten other names it goes by.

So yeah…not feeling this agency at all. Sucks, because the only agency that seemed to show any interest in my work seems to be super sketch. I am not saying they aren’t legit. But the facts are 1) They can’t decide on who the hell they are…this umbrella concept, they aren’t using it at all…they are just being schizo; 2) You can’t contact them…even when they said that they will represent me, they sent me a damn form email…really? Am I that important to you? 3) Where are they located? This is how they explain that issue:

We maintain executive suites in New York and we work with partners in Los Angeles for our screenplay and book-to-film division. We are mainly virtual and work from home to keep our costs down. Our team is in CA, CT, FL, and many other states (and countries too actually).

Dudes, can I get an address like any other normal company? Oh, I can’t? Is that because you guys may not have any legit offices? Is that possibility? 4) Who do they represent? Oh, they don’t tell us because they are protecting their identities, like they are fucking superheroes; 5) Just go to this site and see what some other people have said about it…this Sherry Fine chic sounds like she is some alter ego for some dude named Robert Fletcher. Weird. http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/008839.html

Too many warning signs. So if you come across WL Writers Agency or Writers Book Publishing Agency or Christian Literary Agency (really? That just feels so wrong) or New York Literary Agency, or hell, I could go on, just be wary.

Published in: on June 7, 2008 at 5:25 am  Leave a Comment  

Writing is like being pregnant (or so I assume)

I am writing this because this week has been a shitty week in my writing world. I guess one might compare it to a really bad bout of morning sickness during pregnancy. I will try to use this analogy, even though I have never been pregnant. It just seems, at this moment in time, fitting.

A little less than a year ago, I decided to start writing about my horrible time at law school. Please take a moment to read the following, because it describes what happened soon after I began writing more eloquently than I can at this moment in time:

It (my book) started out as a cathartic means of dealing with my utter regret of having attended such a soul-sucking institution. However it soon evolved into more. Not only does it chronicle the life of a law school outcast, but it is an open and honest account of how difficult and outrageous law school can really be.

This excerpt is from one of my earlier attempts at a book proposal a few months ago.  I got it into my head, after having written a good chunk about my time at law school, that my book should be published because others needed to know what law school was really like.  Suddenly, I thought, hey, I am going to become a writer!  In my delusional state, I convinced myself that this would be easy.  My mom has read my book and she loves it!  So, of course, that means that I’m fit to be a published author already.  Of course it does.  Ego is a bitch, let me tell you.

I have been told throughout my life that I was a good writer.  Good writer does not equate to awesome published author, no matter how much I prayed and dreamed it would.  It suddenly occurred to me that I might need to get some help, some practice, dare I say, even take some classes.  If this is something I truly want to pursue, I am finally coming to realize, I will have to treat it like any other craft…practice makes perfect.  I can’t just assume that because my teachers and my mom have told me that I’m a good writer that I am automatically a nifty short story teller or non-fiction novelist.  Please…it took me three damn years to be schooled in the subject of law, and I have to think of writing in the same way…as a subject that I need to take time with in order to learn more about.  Raw talent helps, but it just isn’t enough.

In this blog, I am hoping to keep a type of journal of the process I have been through and the things I will be going through.  Hopefully, it will help out other aspiring authors.  Hopefully soon, I will also be able to provide links to my own published works!

Oh, back to the pregnancy issue before I wrap up.  A week ago, I had a former law school colleague read through my book.  He now works at a book agency.  He got back to me and told me my work was good, that it needed some work, but that it had great potential.  I was flying high.  The next day, a literary agent got back to me and told me they were interested in seeing more of my work.  I was flying even higher.  These were the signs that I had been waiting for, the moments that told me hey, you can do this!

This week, I received the following from an editor at a publishing company to which I sent a chapter of my book:

I must say to begin, that I am sure your life and experience is very interesting to you. As an editor I must honestly say that you have managed to tell your tale, if it is such at all, and not the ramblings taken directly from a day to day diary, in a manner beyond boring. The only things you have left out are your bedtimes and how long you brush your teeth.

If this is intended to be, or in your opinion is a book, may I remilnd [sic.] you that what we are talking about here is publishing and literary works.

My best advice? Try writing a text book. Or better yet, a series of essays for a law journal.

Hope this has been helpful.

Bitch-Ass Editor

OK.  I added the Bitch-Ass part in.  But that is what I wanted to call him.

So.  Heart crushed.  Can’t breath.  Life sucks.

Blow number two.  That literary agency that had shown interest in my work?  Yeah, got an email from them this morning telling me that they wanted to represent me.  Why am I not happy?  Because it appears it is a bogus literary agency.  I am going to write a whole post on that specific topic later on, because I feel like it is important that aspiring authors don’t get sucked into this little dreamworld agencies like this hand to you, only to have them pop it later on because they are charging you for things they shouldn’t be or don’t have one damn author published under their agency.  Until I write that post, be wary of WL Writers Agency or Writer’s Book Publishing Agency or whatever the hell they are calling themselves today.  They might sound official, have a fancy little website, but dig deeper, and you will see a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

So, on that note, I have felt sick this whole week.  Weak and sick and upset and constantly questioning myself.  Can I really become a writer, a writer that is reputable, that has works published, shit, that gets paid for writing?  I am going to keep on trucking and see what happens.  And while I’m at it, I invite any other aspiring authors along for the ride.  Pregnancy, I have heard, can be a bitch, but I have seen my beautiful nephew Marcus come from it, and I know, in the end, something worthwhile will come from these adventures in writing, something amazing.

Published in: on June 6, 2008 at 5:50 am  Leave a Comment  
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