I’ve noticed an exorbitant amount of unwarranted self-inflation among the Earthlings.

Humans are very much in love, especially with themselves, and they choose to express this idea in the form of media-frenetic exhibitions, namely awards shows. People’s Choice. Golden Globes. Critic’s Choice. Screen actor’s guild awards. Breakthrough Prizes. British Academy of Film (BAFTA). BET Honors. Oscars. Tonys. Emmys. Movie Guide Faith & Value Awards. Independent Spirit Awards. Annual Movieguide Awards. Kid’s Choice awards. MTV Movie Awards. American Comedy Awards. Critic’s Choice TV Awards. Daytime Drama Awards. Adult Film Awards. The list goes on and on and on. It’s as if there’s a magical copy machine spitting out award show after award show. And this list does not mention the plethora of music industry awards and professional sports awards. Awards have begun to spill into areas in which those who receive such recognition are inherently unprepared to quantify such a thing.

Here’s what my observations lead me to. Given the definition of what an award is and what an award means, it seems to me that when humans continuously create multiple venues for the distillation of such things, what begins to occur is a counter-intuitive homogenization of the concept. In other words, the significance of an award and the implicit value of receiving one, becomes evermore diminished with each award show created. In reality (for what that’s worth) when everyone has an award, the only thing award-worthy is NOT having one. This leads me to the conclusion that the humans are on the dangerous verge of an active self-implosion. Soon, they’ll be passing out awards to members of their industry who never got an award this year for anything. I imagine this:

“And the award for the person who got no awards this year goes to… so-and-so.”

At that point, what will occur is a highly-paid, often over estimated and under-deserving group of people congratulating themselves while failing to dawn any sense of perspective in relation to the basic essentials of life on Earth. This must inevitably lead the humans to extinction, at which point one must rely on wisdom, which I’m afraid will no longer exist.

Let us pray to Xerox (the god, not the copy machine company) to save those of planet Earth.

 

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The expendable minute

Aside

You humans. You think minutes are expendable. Take relationships, if I understand the word correctly. Most relationships begin in a single minute. One glance. One instantaneous moment in time that rests on the human memory forever, and never goes away. Eventually they end the same. One minute. One goodbye. It’s those two minutes, the first and the last, that seem to effect you humans the most. But what about all the ones in between? It seems to you that these are all mute. It’s as if you’ve achieved the first and are now awaiting the last. It makes me wonder why relationships aren’t a finite series of hellos and goodbyes — hello, I love you, goodbye.

On a slightly longer timeline, you humans seem to view life the same. This minute I’m born. I spend these minutes doing… whatever. This minute I die. My report will show humans are crazy.

triggerstreet.com

I have a tool in mind for aspiring writers who want to get into the writing world. It won’t necessarily get you in the door (in fact it most likely won’t,) it won’t teach you valuable lessons on the craft and technique of writing, it won’t make you a better writer, nor will it answer questions on how to get published. In fact, this tool I have in mind is a big waste of time, unless what you honestly choose to do is take the very first step toward that fat, impregnable world of writing, which is to learn patience, humility, and all things unsavory about yourself. In deed, if these are the virtues you find necessary to becoming a writer (and you would be wise to submit to such terrorizing truths) then check out http://labs.triggerstreet.com/.

Triggerstreet (or as I call it TS) is an online community of writers created for sharing and reviewing each others’ work. Upon uploading your first story, what you’ll discover is that the site is populated with authors of multifaceted interests, all of whom share a common joy of writing but who possess various skill levels. Interests are as wide ranging as any community that houses thousands of folks, and the deeper you dive into the site and the more time you invest in reviewing others’ work as they review yours, the more you’ll begin to understand how diverse the concept of human preference is, not to mention how explosive, stoic, humorous, offensive and even tactical our methods of communication can be. And as you navigate the web of human interaction, making a few friends along the way if you’re fortunate, then the more you’ll discover how much you haven’t learned about writing, but rather about yourself. If this sounds helpful to you, by all means, join up, start posting, and  of course upload a story or two. I think you’ll be fascinated at who you really are.

rejected

My first rejection letter came back the other day. I was so excited. Hey, I’m getting somewhere! Of the  query letters I sent out, this particular agent was the most “risk-worthy”, meaning I liked her credentials but felt my work was least aligned with what she was looking for than the others. So, if there is a qualifying mark of justification to be had, it’s that. Of course, if she had wanted my manuscript I would have sent it to her with no less jubilance and hope. So, we take what we do and leave the rest, right?

There is something strangely satisfying, though, to receive a rejection letter. It says I’m taking the right steps, doing the necessary thing – at least here in the beginning – to get seen and be heard. There for, I feel no broken-hearted disappointment at all. Just an odd sense that I’ve taken a step closer to being a published author. But, without speaking too soon, let’s see if things change.

My lesson learned #2 — The constant reader

This is a concept I gathered from Stephen King’s “On Writing”, and I may mention that particular book from time to time. For anyone wanting to learn about what it’s like to write while also getting a real understanding on what it’s like to BE a writer, this book is a pearl of inspiration and wisdom.

In this book, one of the ideas that I was introduced to is the “Constant Reader” — someone that the writer uses to gain an objective perspective on his or her writing. For King, it’s his wife Tabitha. For you, it might be a parent or sibling, a friend with mutual interests, or maybe a teacher; someone important to you, someone whose observations you value, and who may inspire you. That’s your Constant Reader.

It’s easy for me as a reclusive writer to enjoy my own work through my own eyes. The danger in that is that I subjectively perceive my own craft as enthralling and perfect without offering myself the cross-reference of another’s input. That’s where the Constant Reader comes into play.

In an earlier post I mentioned my book is done; time to find an agent. My brother challenged me on this by volunteering to read my book. Whether he actually reads the book or not is unimportant at this point, because what he did, inadvertently or not, was force me to re-read my own material through HIS eyes, not mine, at which point I realized how premature it would be for me to begin shopping the material. In deed, his offer presented me with a very real and very necessary threat. For I must now rewrite several chapters through a more objective perspective, being that of his (i.e. my Constant Reader) in order to make the book more enjoyable to an audience beyond myself. It’s a humbling, frustrating, time-sucking lesson to learn, but if I want to experience 1st hand all those concepts that King mentions in his book, then it’s simply a part of the formula I must learn to navigate and embrace.

The right agent, initially

Speaking of http://www.agentquery.com, when I began researching the right agent, my intention was to narrow the list down to 10 agents that I thought would best be suited to represent my work specifically. My criteria was based on a few elements that apply to his/her unique categorical objectives as an agent:

Do they represent my genre, dark thriller/suspense?

Are they currently accepting queries from new or unpublished authors?

Have they represented or published works in the past year or so?

And I look for pieces of personal information in their bios that appeal to me, whether it’s a piece of their literary philosophy, an interest they have that we share in common, etc.

My approach is to find an agent that 1. impresses me, and 2. that I think I might impress. And, as a writer, I look for them in that order. Working with someone that I feel an immediate relation to as opposed to someone that I think will suit my work whether their personality is in league with mine or not is important to me. I hope to develop a long-lasting relationship with an agent.

After researching a fraction of the list, I’ve found 6 agents that I most want to reach out to. Though I have had zero contact with any of them yet, I hope to very soon. I’m sure in the weeks and months to come I will either qualify or disqualify my initial theories on agent hunting. So many questions need answers, here’s where I begin to ask. Oh, the trial and error. Wish me luck.

My lesson learned #1 — Pacing an action scene

People don’t want boring action. They want action that has momentum, that moves forward, keeps going. And if that’s what people want it’s safe to assume that’s what publishers want, too. This is very bad for me. You see, I like bogging my action down with compounded sentences, cerebral prose, descriptive portions that go on and on, adverbial phrases and metaphor, transition after transition. So I’ve decided to stop doing that. As such, I came up with a few bits of protocol for writing action. We’ll see if it works.

1. I will convey only one idea per sentence. This is subjective, true. Because who’s to say when one idea ends and the next begins? But if I can learn to be my own gauge for such things, then I might increase the likelihood that a reader will agree. If it’s only one idea long in my head, I’m sure it will be close to that in the reader’s head.

2. Find creative ways to avoid the pronoun game. No one wants to read three pages of a book in which each sentence begins with he, she, it, or they. A paragraph in, and the whole bit starts to read like the pinging of a ball peen hammer.

3. I will use the active voice for such moments, limit adverbs and adverbial phrases, and stay current with my past tense. And I will tell what happens, not how. This includes avoiding descriptions of thought processes and emotional feelings. If a character is running from a bull it stands to reason he’s scared shitless without saying “… he was scared shitless.”

4. I will make decisions. In a car chase or sword fight or boxing match, nothing “seems” like anything. It “is”. I.E. he didn’t “seem” to bleed like a geyser, he “did” bleed like a geyser. The car didn’t “seem” to speed up, it “did” speed up. He didn’t “seem” to miss by an inch, he “did” miss by an inch.

5. I will load such pages with dramatic verbs of action. Explode. Thunder. Slice. Crash. Plummet. Careen. Smash. Wield. Stagger. Explode, again.

Any further advice? I’m all ears.