Saturday, September 24, 2011

It's Too Late Now...

for me to change a word, to move a sentence, to worry about timing, to obsess about the response - or the lack thereof.

The envelope (containing a one page query, a four page synopsis, and a nine page excerpt) is in the mail - somewhere in the bottom of a mail delivery truck, perhaps sitting between a contract and a love letter. 

On Monday, the mail man will deliver it to the receptionist or the assistant at the agency.  The agent will get the envelope before the day is over.  Maybe he'll open it, maybe he'll look at the name of the sender and throw it on top of the pile.

Someone will open it sooner or later - and it will either garner an immediate response (half a percent chance), be placed in a maybe pile (five percent chance), or land in the recycle bin (ninety-four and a half percent chance).


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

This one is about writing!

We often hear the old adage "actions speak louder than words," yet as writers we must rely on words and it is our task to select those words that will make the actions come alive and not just describe them.  Is this a difficult task?  Certainly!  But is it worth the effort?  Absolutely!
Showing versus telling was my staunch enemy when I first gave creative writing a try; I am not even sure I really understood the difference (and I still have trouble at times).  For decades I devoured books but I was usually so engrossed in the story and the words that I never thought to look at a novel as a whole or to consider its particular components. 
Both showing and telling have their rightful place.  Telling, by way of a description of a scene or by providing information, is essential to almost any story - imagine War and Peace without telling...
Yet, as the saying goes, actions generally speak volumes and can, often in one single motion, show us a trait or a consequence that may otherwise require a page full of exotic adjectives (which, if diligently employed page after page, could result in the loss of your readers). 
Thus, a meaningful balance of showing and telling is what we should aspire to - a task I hope to perfect one day. 

I was brushing my teeth last night when I looked at the almost empty tube of toothpaste I had just used.  The new tube had already been opened too, by my significant other.  I thought that a single and absolutely routine action like brushing one's teeth could perfectly demonstrated the difference in personalities and, with a healthy dose of fiction mixed in, would allow me to practice some showing versus telling and experiment with balancing the two.

Consider this:

Caroline liked to use up every last bit of toothpaste; leaving even half a brushtip's worth was a waste.  And to Caroline, waste, and especially waste of money, was quite simply the eight deadly sin.  She mended her clothes, vacuumed the rugs, and never odered take-out.  She often wondered how she and Larry, the epitome of wastefulness, lasted thirty years as a couple.  Larry left the lights on in every room of the house and had his undershirts laundered.  To Larry, doing something that he could pay someone else to do for him was nothing but a waste of his time.  
versus this:
Caroline rolled up the tube and replaced the cap before she squeezed every bit of paste towards the tip.  A smile of satisfaction spread across her face as she opened the cabinet and put the snail-shaped container on the shelf.  She wiped the drop of water that fell from her finger onto the glass shelf and closed it.  She hung the towel on the rack and anger replaced the peace in her brown eyes when she saw the open tube laying on top of the toilet tank, leaving behind a trail of red and blue paste. 
"Larry!" she yelled.  "How many times do I have to ask you to please close the paste when you are done with it!  Besides, there is still some paste left in the other tube," she said and her head shook with dissatisfaction as she fought to control her breathing.
"Whatever!" Larry mumbled under his moustache and washed his words down with a cold sip of Amstel. "Can't you just leave me alone?" he said and threw his sandwich in the garbage before he walked out.

Writing is fun, isn't it??

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A Good Vacation... from Writing

I thought I would write and review and revise while I was away, but instead of reading my WIP I read Super Why's adventures with my daughter and my nephew's notebook took the place of mine.  Perhaps I should not have planned to work on my writing at all during an event as rare as a week-long vacation with the extended family (indeed, more infrequent but infinitely more precious than a hurricane in New York...), but the promise of one entire week off from work, with hours available to be dedicated to writing was just too sweet to pass up. 

Since returning to my real world three days ago, I have been struggling to recover from both jet lag and the lethargy caused by the break from writing.  Getting off track is effortless - getting back on is exacting.

That said, tonight was a good night for writing - my query letter is finally finished and ready to be sent out to the short list of seven agents I handpicked (yes, I know, a list that meager is certain to result in heartbreak).  Every one of them asks for a synopsis and a sample chapter, both of which are ready and standing by.

But what really happens next? 

Assuming the work is any good, what are the chances for a "request for more" for a no-name, wanna-be writer without credentials and without connections in the business?