I had a couple of really good writing conversations today with two scribes I hold dear to my heart. MB Mulhall is an indie writer who’s as committed to the craft and discipline of writing as anyone I’ve ever met. Cassandra Rose Clarke is a professional novelist, and a damned good one.
I’ve been writing a lot more lately, and as is usually the case, that means I’ve got a LOT of novel ideas shifting around in the silt at the bottom of my mind. Looking at the notes in my journal, I count no fewer than five of them. The latest, a new shiny bauble, is an old idea that I had a long while ago. I’m like a cat with one of those laser lights–I just want to chase this thing until I catch it. But it’s so damned elusive. That’s the thing: If I abandon what I’m doing right now, I really will be like that cat. I might have a whole lot of fun with the chase, but at the end of the day, I’m not going to be any closer to clamping my paws around it. The chase is fun, but without a payoff at the end, it’s unsatisfying.
MB and Cass both gave me good advice with this idea: Outline it. Or write a treatment/synopsis. And then Cass gave me a great idea: If I really HAVE to chase this manuscript, be smart about it. Do it 500 words at a time–and don’t give up on The Antioch Curve (The moonshiner novel I’ve been working on since Hector was a pup). If it comes down to choosing one or the other, go with Curve, because I’m 40,000 words into it–about halfway. And it’s good. Cass has read part of it. Most of it, even. And she agrees with me that it’s good.
I sound cocky now, don’t I? Don’t mean to. But I do think this manuscript is the best, strongest piece of work I’ve ever written. I’m proud of it, and I’m going to finish it. Hopefully soon.
And now on to other matters:
Hey, it was my birthday earlier this month! It was actually on the 15th, but something overshadowed it, I think. Regardless, my wife put together an outstanding party, and several of my good friends even decided they’d show up. I was gifted with several very nice cigars, as well as a good butane lighter. Some other friends also gave me gift cards to Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million. Those are like the best birthday gifts ever, because I use chunks of money like that to haunt the heck out of the remaindered aisles, looking for finds that are $5 or less. The stack to the left there is my haul for this birthday (including the Block novels I bought as a present for myself), cadged from remaindered aisles at B&N and B-A-M, as well as area thrift stores. Here’s the bad thing, where authors are concerned: They don’t get any royalty money from remaindered books. However, if I read them and like them, I end up buying current books. So hopefully something works out for them. And frankly, I haven’t taken that much of a risk on an unknown (to me) novelist. I know I’ve got a couple of bestselling authors in there, but Hiaasen is the only one I’ve read before. I’ve long heard good things about Lehane and T. Jefferson Parker, but never taken the plunge before.
Happy birthday to me. 🙂
I’ve written before that I’m trying to read 52 novels this year. I’m on my 20th at the moment, a very funny book called Burglars Can’t Be Choosers by Lawrence Block. The man is a smartass, and his way with humor is extremely captivating. So far, the reading list looks like this:
-The Swords Trilogy–Michael Moorcock
-Dreaming of Babylon–Richard Brautign
-Cold Days–Jim Butcher
-Freaky Deaky–Elmore Leonard
-V is for Vengeance–Sue Grafton
-Going Too Far–Jennifer Echols
-Sharp Objects–Gillian Flynn
-American Detective–Loren D. Estleman
-Brimstone–Robert B. Parker
-Nobody’s Perfect–Donald Westlake
-Out of the Ashes–William W. Johnstone
-A Ticket to the Boneyard–Block
-Time to Murder and Create–Block
-Burglars Can’t Be Choosers–Block