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Posts Tagged ‘Writing’

Wanted: Agent Who Likes Arson, Leaves and Stories of Financial Malfeasance

August 7th, 2010 Comments off
I’m looking for a new agent. I hate looking for an agent. Maybe some agent will read this before I even start the process of reaching out to people. Maybe they’ll magically, send me an email saying that they’d love to represent me. Like the magical love affair in a sweet and simple book. I’m still trying to sort out which book I want to send out next. It’s either going to be High of Sixty, about a bankrupt bill collector hiding out in Alaska, or Powdered Milk, about a reporter covering a series of arsons in Connecticut. I finished rereading both over the last two weeks. I hadn’t read Powdered Milk in a year or so. It’s a funny but ultimately very disturbing book. It’s strange for me to have written something so unsettling. Not that I haven’t written lots of dark stories. But I’d forgotten how slowly but deeply the strangeness in Powdered Milk reveals itself. I forget a lot about much of what I write. Not sure that’s normal or not. But so be it. I haven’t written a blurb or pitch or synposis for Powdered Milk yet. It’ll go something like this, though:
Powdered Milk is a novel about arsons, and the newspaper reporter covering them in three isolated Connecticut towns. It is a novel about secrets. It is a novel about sex. It is, in the end, a novel about submarines, love, fire and Monty Breel, a 31-year-old reporter for the local bi-weekly called The Gazette. And it is a novel about leaves. Lots and lots of leaves.
Who wouldn’t want to read that? The High of Sixty pitch is looking something like this:
High of Sixty is the story of a bankrupt bill collector hiding from his debts in a dark, forgotten office building in Juneau, Alaska. It’s a book about the awkwardness of friendship, the loss of wealth, unforgivable mistakes and a bad love affair. It’s a book that, at least in part, is meant to be funny. And it’s a book about Carter’s aunt lighting his uncle on fire at the holidays. It is a book about inter-office memos printed in the waxy purple ink of old mimeograph machines. It is a book about sneaking on board cruise ships to sip tequila and do the rhumba.
So many choices.

Genres and the Voices in My Head

August 4th, 2010 1 comment
I don’t think I ever picked how I write, or even a genre in which to write. It’s more, for me, about the voice in my head. I’m not sure I know where that voice came from. Maybe I don’t even want to know where it came from. But I started to write because, somewhere in my mind, there was a story and a voice and a fundamental thing that I wanted to say and that I thought people would want to read. I’ve written in a variety of different voices or styles, now that I look back on it. Many of the first stories I published were in a much darker, more barren, even sometimes violent style. But that changed over time so that, while Shimmer is still often fairly dark, it’s also sometimes funny. There are light moments. And, certainly, it’s a book without violence, in style or content. That said, to some degree, I’ve always been influenced by, or even tried to emulate, writers I like, particularly Don Delillo and Cormac McCarthy. And yet I don’t think I ever particularly sound like the writers that have most influenced me. Shimmer certainly doesn’t sound anything like Cormac McCarthy and similarities to Delillo are, maybe, there. Maybe. And so it really comes back to the unexplained voices in my head. Excerpts from an interview on This Book For Free. http://thisbookforfree.com/?p=1002

“Is it bigger than a breadbox?” – Deleted Scenes from Shimmer

July 12th, 2010 Comments off
When I’m writing something new, I tend to write far more than I ultimately use. Combined with my habit of writing out of order and without a outline (and without, early in the process, much sense of where I’m going), the whole effort is wildly inefficient.  But that’s just how I write. And so I’ll spend a lot of time on various scenes that I ultimately don’t finish. Sometimes, I’ll finish them, then, in the process of editing and finding some structure for the book, I realize there’s no place for the scene.

The Putt-Putt Golf Scene that Unbridled rightly cut from Shimmer was probably one of those scenes that shouldn’t have made it into my final draft. And below is a scene that I cut from Shimmer on my own, prior to sending the manuscript to anyone.  I think I wanted the scene to be at once funny, and puzzling, and reflective of some sort of deeply ingrained dysfunction in the way businesses operate. The disconnection between what is said and what is heard (and what is meant and what is real).

Maybe the scene does that. But I just couldn’t find a place for it in Shimmer.

“And so really, in the end, my message to you is very simple,” the salesman was saying. It was morning and I was sitting in on a sales presentation to a few members of the tech group. “What I’m offering is a multi-dimensionalized, fully integrated solution that will leverage your core, traditional strengths in what we’ve taken to calling the second transition of the new economy.”

The salesman shrugged with a confident finality. Ran his hand across his carefully unshaven face. He put down the controller to his LCD projector. He sat down in the chair near the end of the table. He had to be less than twenty-five years old.

Around the table, three young men from system administration were nodding seriously toward the salesman. Two young women from software development scribbled detailed notes into handheld computers, both also nodding in appreciation.

A few times a month, I still sat through sales presentations from outside vendors – insurance agents, office product resellers, software vendors. Each promised greater efficiency, increased productivity and quick cost savings for us.

After listening to the salesman’s fifteen-minute presentation, I had a question. Yet I could not find a way to phrase it correctly. However, Leonard, our head of IT who was sitting next to me, he was speaking already, already asking the question on my mind.

“I have to ask,” Leonard started, then paused a moment. “And bear with me, because it will seem obvious that I missed a key point early on in your presentation.” Leonard was nodding toward the projector screen, but let his hand drift across the marketing materials placed carefully on the table. “What, well, what exactly is the goal of this?”

“That’s a great question,” said the salesman. “One that too often does go unanswered. What this is – and at this point I like to use the analogy of your home – what this is the living room furniture, i.e. the sofa, the chairs, the coffee table even,” he said and, for some reason, he laughed lightly as he said it. “A coffee table made of the finest hand laid wood, I should say. And in using that analogy I’m as much saying what this isn’t, as I am saying what it is. It is not the dining room. It is not the kitchen. It is not the attic and certainly it is not a bedroom or basement. Again, it’s the living room, Leonard. A post-analog, new economy living room. And more importantly, it’s an integrated solution.”

The young staffers nodded, scribbling faster, glancing knowingly at one another.

Still the question lingered for me and, I could see, for Leonard.

“Let me put it this way,” Leonard was saying. “Is it software? Or is it hardware?”

The salesman nodded quickly, standing now. “Sure. Great question. You see, it’s neither and, in fact, it’s both. Think of electricity – stored up, generated, passed from power plant to power line, corner pole to building or home. That, really, is the best comparison I can think of.”

“If and when we were to buy this,” Leonard said, “would the item or items arrive in a box? Would it come via email?”

“Truthfully,” the salesman said easily, “because we’re so scalable – the industry press, for instance, has consistently called us the most scalable solution in this space – because of our scalability and the highly tailored approach we take to building your solution, because of that we arrive how you want us to arrive. That’s the beauty of our system. I don’t have to walk in here and sell you on what we have to offer. Instead I simply walk in, let you tell me what you have to say, and then I shape the resulting package around your needs, not mine.”

“Let’s try this,” Leonard was saying now, and I thought that I could see even the innate patience and understanding so central to Leonard’s being, I thought I could see it withering just slightly. “Talk to me in terms of its size,” Leonard said. “Is it small? Medium? Large?”

“Again you’ve hit on what I think is one of the great pressure points of companies like yours. Size doesn’t matter, does it? You’re up and running twenty-four/seven, right? You’re open when your doors are closed, yes? Complete integration with your clients and suppliers, correct?”

“Is it bigger than a bread box?” Leonard asked.

The salesman started to answer, but Leonard cut him off.

“Does it make noise?”

The salesman started to answer, but Leonard cut him off.

“If I touched it, would it be warm?”

The salesman started to answer, but Leonard cut him off.

“Does it have or emit an odor?”

And it was only now that I saw the slightest, almost imperceptible hint of anxiety in the salesman. Because finally he’d realized. Realized that not only did Leonard have no idea what this product or service was, but he’d realized – worst of all – that he had no idea either. He’d searched his catalog of analogies, anecdotes and quotes, trying again to find some deft and productive response from his two-week sales training course. But as he searched his memory – scanning all those training handouts, visualizing all those charts drawn so carefully on a massive whiteboard in his employer’s high-tech training facility, replaying all those training tapes he’d listened to in his car and at his home – suddenly these things only highlighted for him that he did not have an answer.

Because he didn’t know. He had no idea what he was selling.

No one else in the room saw this realization pass over him. I saw it only in the slightest paleness that crossed his face, in a slight shift in his shoulders, in the way he made a note to himself on a legal pad in front of him.

Leonard was squinting his eyes, his neck stretched out, and I thought that if he leaned forward any farther his chin would touch the table. “What exactly,” Leonard said, speaking so very slowly now, “in the simplest terms, what exactly does this do?”

And now the salesman nodded just once, smiling again, eyes blinking faster, life returning to a nearly drowned man. “Now I see what you’re asking. In simple terms, what does it do? Leonard, let me tell you,” he said, leaning forward too now, the young Core staffers sitting back in their chairs, staring at him, waiting breathless for his answer, “Leonard, it’s even guaranteed.”

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Early Notes on Shimmer (part 2)

June 28th, 2010 Comments off
I found a whole series of notes I made before – sometimes years before — writing Shimmer. I don’t remember writing any of these notes. Which isn’t necessarily surprising – I’ve re-read any of things I’ve written and there are sometimes pages and pages I don’t remember writing. These were notes I was taking while working on another manuscript, Powdered Milk. I usually do that — take an increasing amount of notes on the next project while finishing the current project. It keeps me from panicking about finishing the current project.  And it my mind in two places. 8/30/97 A very tall building. Maybe an insurance company. With lots and lots of file cabinets. (And one day we have to open them up.) 10/19/97 Somebody using computer boxes to make a fort entrance to their cubicle 1/14/98 First line: As a kid I had dreams (or, I’d started having dreams where I could fly. I didn’t launch myself off of buildings, though. Didn’t take firm Superman steps that catapulted me up into the air. Instead I only brought my right leg up to my chest, in a moment lifted the left, my tightly curled body hovering a few feet off the ground. 12/8/98 The Vice President of Sales is reluctantly telling me that Kenny G. is, really, not very good. 12/9/98 Buttery. 12/12/98 So much of my life is conducted from the sitting position. 2/14/99 buttery “We’d entered a period of half-finished projects.” “I’m looking forward to this movie. I think it’s going to be sordid.” 4/6/99 Lying. It is definitely about lying. And, probably, money. And definitely a big, growing company with lots of turnover. whole divisions. whole floors. And there is a sales office and other offices, out in the field, removed from the home office. “I’m sitting in a Holiday Inn outside Cincinnati watching Spectravision at 2 in the morning, just five hours from a meeting, and I still haven’t gone to sleep.” 4/7/99 The constant effort to keep one’s office clean — the floor, the shelves, the desktop, the unique and separate parts of the desktop, the computer, the emails, the desktop of the computer. The ants crawling in through windows after a rain. Even here on the 23rd floor. Collabra, Marimba, Outlook, Copeland. Naming, we are constantly attempting to name, to make sense of, define. We call our computers anmials, our programs people, our areas countries, our floors continents. We have code names, we have cover names, we have version numbers and subverion roll outs. 4/8/99 No sleep. Employees coming and going. Hiring and company meetings and memos and emails and small and large and all kinds of meetings. But what is the product? 4/19/99 Somewhere out of NYC, some office that does “data processing’ and that is really retyping all the information from one legacy system to the new system. And maybe the growth, the investment, something was built on the notion that they had found a solution to bridge the gap — implicitly, they’d done it through a computer. But, they hadn’t. They’d lied. They (he?) bury the cost by having the same typing group do other things — check processing, payroll, mail processing. Something. Maybe there are multiple groups. That bridge — originally so simply a task — broken into a series of smaller steps, all coded and blind-boxed, and kept in order by barcodes and maybe an all-important customer code. And the customer code is a single point of failure. The multiple groups, maybe some parts of the bridge are handled by independent contractors who type and retype one part of the piece and then pass the information along. No one can know what they do. Or who they work for. Maybe these groups are separate companies, owned largely by the main character (or characters). Maybe he had to turn to some outsiders, who now are holding this against them.
Categories: About Shimmer, Posts Tags: , ,

Early Notes on Shimmer (Or, How I Started Shimmer Before Madoff Was Even a Fraud)

June 25th, 2010 Comments off
Virtually every interview I’ve done about Shimmer has involved questions about Bernie Madoff. The pre-promotion of the book was occuring as the Madoff story was unfolding, more details coming out every day or week. And the hardcover was published within weeks, I believe, of his sentencing in New York. On some level, this was good, because it drew attention to the book. But there were downsides. The Madoff connection cast Shimmer in even more thriller-esque light. The book isn’t a thriller, but was sometimes perceived as one – because it involves a Ponzi Scheme and lies and so on — and the Madoff parallels only supported that, as it empowered reviewers and interviewers to throw out words like “timely” and “prescient.” During many interviews, I end up spending a great deal of time politely explaining how the book is not a true thriller and was written long before – 10 or more years before – the Madoff story broke. With that in mind, it’s not surprising that another downside of the Madoff comparisons was a certain skepticism among book sellers that Shimmer had been bought, let alone written, before the Madoff story broke. It’s as if the book sellers were concerned Shimmer was a quickie book, written simply to capitalize on the Madoff story, almost like one of those “unauthorized” biographies that come out when a star dies and/or is imprisoned. I always said that I’d written the first version of the book 10 years before it was published, which is true. But the other day I found a file of notes and ideas for stories and novels. The dates are 1995 and 1997, when I’d finished a manuscript for a novel, High of Sixty, Occasional Rain (about a bankrupt bill collector hiding out in Alaska) that was being shopped in New York. I was trying to figure out what I’d work on next. I didn’t start Shimmer till 1999 — instead I worked on Powdered Milk (about a reporter covering a series of arsons in New England) — but was making notes about ideas for Shimmer before then. Here are some of the notes. In one form or another, all of this made it into the novel: New York 4/22/95 Riding in a cab that’s squeaking … the sound echoing through the car, cruising up Broadway. 7/4/97 The walls lined with file cabinets, the grand views of Colgate in New Jersey. Living on the 39th floor of a building with a subway stop in the basememt. Maybe this is the novel where there’s something that happens, some freak accident, one click too many on an insurance form, and the character is wronged. And, or, also, there’s the proposal at work, some … campaign, a new product feature, something that begins to spiral, build and escalate. All of it’s in New York. All of it is in buildings. In the winter. In the dark. I’ll post some more from the note file soon.

Dreams Where I Get Food Poisoning

December 16th, 2009 Comments off
n+1 logo Keith Gessen, co-editor of the journal N+1 and former book critic for New York Magazine, selected one of my short stories, “Dreams Where I Can Fly” (Raritan, Spring 2009), for publication in the Italian magazine Internazionale http://www.internazionale.it/sommario/?issue_id=419as well as listing it as one of his favorite stories for 2009. This was my thank you note to him, which, for reasons eventually explained in the post, I couldn’t send to him directly. This is really nice of you to list my story as one of your favorites of the year and it makes me think that I haven’t thanked you properly for selecting my story for Internazionale. I’m actually not sure I thanked you at all, let alone enough, because when you emailed me that you wanted the story for Internazionale I was ill, violently, terribly, deliriously ill with food poisoning. My hands were shaking as I typed my response and the ensuing follow-up messages — of which there may have been two or ten, I’m not sure — were typed between bouts of vomiting and fitful, delirious stretches of sleep. testata270I’ve had food poisoning four times now in my life and so it’s getting to be a kind of badge of honor, like the number of hallucinogenic wanderings you’ve taken before you’re 21. But like an acid trip, food poisoning – and, maybe especially, the drugs they give you to get over the nausea — leave you spent and deadened for many days afterward. A lost week, to be sure. It’s possible that if a very gracious and well-written Italian editor hadn’t contacted me more than a week after you and I corresponded, I might well have never remembered any of this. Or I might have written it all off as a low grade, historically unanchored flashback. Which, besides being unacceptably rude, would have been deeply unfortunate. So strange was that week of illness and its unexpected connection to the selection of this story that yet another week went by after I exchanged emails with the Italian editor before I remembered that, coincidentally, I’m going to be in Italy in March and could have coffee or wine or both (but not sushi, which will almost certainly still be off-palate then) with the editor, assuming that his spoken English is as good as his written. htmlgiant_logobAnd even that, the coincidence of my going to Italy for a trip planned long before you contacted me or I took that fated journey to my neighborhood sushi bar, all of it only adds to the dreamy dislocation of this entire event. Finally, because I’m seven paragraphs into this, I can’t not note that my confusion over all this only continued by my seeing this post via a cryptic automated Google alert email, the kind of message that usually announces that an “Eric Barnes” in rural Wyoming has been released on parole, but that this time listed my name next to the title of a story of mine, which led me to believe that the alert was, this time, about me. The last complication, I hope, is that while I was able to read your post yesterday, when I tried to go back to the post in the morning, the link would not work, which, of course, sends me back into a state of total dislocation over whether any of this really did happen. The subtext of all this, of course, is that while I appear to be writing this as a simple comment on your blog, I am in fact writing it elsewhere on my computer and will, when possible, copy and paste it into your blog as if it were the effortless ramblings of a thankful writer. In the meantime, I think I’ll post this to my own blog, just to alter the order of events on this a little bit more. Again, I’m glad you enjoyed “Dreams Where I Can Fly.” Thanks for giving it this attention.

Writing, Publishing & Waiting

June 4th, 2009 2 comments
Rumor has it that I’ll be getting some actual copies of Shimmer today, with the book hitting the stores over the coming weeks. So I thought I’d post this, a version of a talk I gave to students at MUS (Memphis University School) recently, and that will go into a kind of loose video soon, combined with the slides that went with the talk. I posted a few of the slides here also. I had to give a talk about my novel to a group of high school students recently. And a friend of mine, a teacher, said, “You need to talk to them about failure.” Which might suggest a certain lack of confidence in my speech. But I’d been thinking about failure anyway. Because this book Shimmer − because writing in general − is inevitably tied to failure. Think of Hemingway, one of the most acclaimed American writers, who killed himself at least in part because of his failure to be able continue to write as he got older. Think of Keats, one of the great English poets, who died at a young age, at least by most accounts, considering himself a failure. Or think of the British novelist John Fowles − and this is the one I like to think of − who wrote numerous manuscripts before getting his first novel published. I failed to publish a novel for what seems like a very long time. I started writing seriously almost twenty years ago. In that time, I’ve written four novels, have had five agents. The first novel I wrote, I wrote 900 pages. I then cut that down to 400 pages. Then 300 pages. I spent most of three years on that book. And at the end of those three years, I realized that − truly, honestly − the book was terrible. Horrible. But still, for some reason, I kept writing.

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In part, I wrote short stories. There are probably 200 publications that publish what are called literary stories − not genre stories. Stories that might be very serious or very funny, but that are of some weight. Stories that, for better or worse, aspire to be studied and taught. That aspire to some level of significance.rejection1 The first story I ever had published, almost 15 years ago, was rejected by something like 75 publications before someone accepted it. Think of it. Nearly half of the 200 publications who might have said yes, instead said no. And in just the last three years, I’ve received exactly 468 rejections of short stories of mine. That’s nearly a rejection every other day. And that 468 is just for the last three years, during which time I have, for certain inexplicable reasons, kept an accurate count of every rejection. This means that, since I started sending out stories 15 years ago, I’ve received over 1,000 rejections. If you think about those 1,000 rejections, in that time I’ve had 13 stories accepted. Which is a success rate of 1.3%. I take a strange comfort in all these numbers. Quantifying and containing the rejections. I turn them around in large spreadsheets, spin them into a database, plot them on well-organized charts. Although, in truth, counting the rejections, doing the math, it’s just a means of quantifying and containing my disappointments. It might be like not getting the job you want. Or being rejected by a college. Or it might be like that woman who breaks up with you. Or won’t go out with you in the first place. These are the disappointments, the failures, that shake you. That make you question who exactly you are. Who you want to be. Who you even can be. The rejections, as they come in, are like votes. Votes against you. Each one adding up. What if you asked out 100 people and they all said no? But, still, I kept writing

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Like most people, I suppose, I have in my life met many people who say they want to write. You meet a few who actually sit down and do some writing, the start of a story maybe or some chapters for a novel. You meet still fewer who finish what they start. And fewer still who actually get a story, a novel, a biography, a book of any substance published.rejection4 Writing is the hardest work I have ever done. I’ve worked 60-hour weeks in marine construction, building docks and floats, cold, wet and tired in the rain. I’ve worked 80-hour weeks in fish processing plants in Alaska, where you work till you’re soaked and cold and covered in scales and slime. I went to a fancy college and a top graduate school where students competed, coldly, for the attention of professors. As a reporter I called the father of a girl killed in a car crash and asked him, “How do you feel?” and in business I’ve pulled all nighters before presenting to venture capitalists who held the future of our company in their hands and I’ve walked into rooms of 20 people and told all of them, “I’m sorry, go home, because I’m laying all of you off.” But writing is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. And when you’re done writing, when you’ve finished what you’ve written, then you face that 1 in a hundred chance that your story or novel will get published. And then, when you’ve published it, you’ll struggle to get it read. I heard Philip Roth say one time that in any given city there are maybe 10,000  people who actually read. By which he meant, 10,000 people who read books of some weight, who think hard about them, who stop afterward and consider the significance, if any, of what they’ve just finished. Maybe it’s 100,000 people, he said. Regardless, it’s a tiny number. But, still, you write. For reasons I can’t fully explain, even to myself, I get up every morning at 5, I work late into the night, and I write. It is exhausting, mind-numbing, tedious, and thrilling. And that’s just in the first 15 minutes of working. You sit alone in a dark room, separating yourself from your friends, from your children, from your wife.

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One way I can maybe try to describe why I write is that it’s an act in the pursuit of something significant. What I write may be somewhat to very to not at all significant, but it’s an attempt. One strange part of this equation, though, is that the attempt to do something significant so often correlates to not being paid well or at all. It’s why the minister at your church, the rabbi at your synagogue, is probably the lowest paid person you know, yet could well be one of the most important people in your community. In your life. Jay Leno makes millions off an auto-biography, yet Cormac McCarthy, one of the most important writers of our lifetime, worked in obscurity and near-poverty for decades. Britney Spears gets paid millions to lip-synch a song she didn’t write, while musicians of immensely greater talent play their trumpet or guitar in front of a coin box out on the street. But, still, you write.

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People ask me when I start to write do I have a plan. An outline. For me, I start with the vaguest notion of a situation, and in the back of my mind I’ll think and think about that situation, that idea, that premise, and I’ll start to make notes to myself, and soon I’ll have pages of notes, but I’m not really yet working on anything coherent, until finally, at some point, I’ll find the first sentence. And then I’ll write and write off that first sentence. I write in a low grade panic at that point, racing to get everything on the page. I write out of order, I write the end long before I’ve written the middle. I skip around and leave myself notes in the middle of chapters. That’s how I write. Shimmer was the same. Back in 1999, I had a vague notion of writing a book about a company. I pictured a building. I pictured offices. I pictured some kind of technology, an overly complicated, almost impossibly involved technology. I pictured the people who might work there. Those ideas circled in my mind. But they weren’t an idea for an actual novel until I realized I wanted to write a book about a company that was built on a lie. And that’s when if found the first sentence. The first sentence was and is. “I’d started having dreams where I could fly.”

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In graduate school, in the writing program I was in, a friend and writer started a novel and wrote a few chapters. He was a very talented, gifted writer. He later had a story in Best American Short Stories, in fact. So he comes to our workshop with this first chapter of this novel and most of the students like it, some don’t, but our professor, who has said nothing, toward the end of class he says, “Well, I have to say that I was extremely disappointed in your work. To me, it was nothing more than an ellipses-ridden, scatological string of clichés.” He went on, downward, from there. And so my friend stopped working on that novel. He just couldn’t go on with it. Which is too bad. Because even if there was some truth to what that professor said, there was surely a novel in there somewhere.

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So what I have had to do over these years is recalculate those rejections. Rethink them. Understand them differently.garyemail Because although nearly 200 publications have said no to my stories, although at least 100 different book editors said no to my manuscripts, after all that one editor said yes. To my novel, Shimmer. One publisher accepted my book. And so it will be published. It will, like all books, live on forever. It will live longer than me or my children or anyone listening. It will live longer than every editor who rejected my work in the past. And so that one yes, that acceptance, it in a sense makes everyone else wrong. It makes them irrelevant. Because if you ask out 100 people, and only the 101st says yes and then you realize you are lucky enough to be in love, then all that matters is that 101st person. Everyone else was wrong. Everyone else is irrelevant. And so the question is, did I really fail when I didn’t get published for all those years? The answer was yes, but now the answer is no.

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For me, even that first novel, the 900 incoherent pages that became 300 unreadable pages, I came back to it ten years later, with an idea − an idea that came to me sitting outside drinking coffee with my wife near Salem, Mass and I rewrote that novel into a manuscript called Circus Vargas that got me my fifth agent, Gary Heidt, who shopped that manuscript to every publisher he could, and while Circus Vargas didn’t get picked up then, Gary came back to me and asked me for another manuscript, which was Shimmer. If I hadn’t written the 900 pages, and the 300 pages, and the novels in between and the stories that were rejected, then I wouldn’t have written and published Shimmer. And Circus Vargas will be published too, some day. As will High of Sixty, Occasional Rain. And Powdered Milk. The other novels I’ve written. They will be published. And then, like Shimmer, those books too will outlive me.

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Stories, Drafts & Shimmer: How I Write

May 4th, 2009 Comments off
Sometimes people ask how I write. They want to know about the logistics. Do I write with a plan? An outline? Do I know how the story or the novel will end? It’s usually a little disorienting when I say, “No. I don’t have a plan. I have some vague idea. Maybe a place. A person. And really, for me, it all depends on the first sentence.” And so because I’d been needing to do some sort of video blog post, here’s this post about how I write: Stories, Drafts & Shimmer.
Stories, Drafts and Shimmer

Stories, Drafts and Shimmer

Thanks. (If you have trouble with the version above, try the Windows Media Player version here or here on YouTube.)