My Sweet Spot
Many a blog has been written about where and when writers are at their most productive, with some even adhering to strict rules regarding their writing spaces and the times during which they can even begin to consider producing pages. Most would like to say that they can do it anywhere, because it goes hand-in-hand with the age-old adage that writers just write, and for some of us, that's what we have to do in order simply to stay content. Therefore, it should hold true that for writers to write, they should be able to do it anywhere the muse should happen to strike them.
Unfortunately, this isn't always the case, especially for writers who need a certain ambiance in order to do what they do, like environments that allow for background music, or for some the lack of any background noise at all. I have an office at home where I work, and in fact I've always had a designated place to write for as long as I can remember. But when I got my first laptop, back when iPads and such weren't as commonplace as they are now and desktops were the only starting points, I considered myself free to compose wherever and whenever. I looked forward to this freedom all my life, fixated on the newest gizmos that would allow me to take the writing desk with me wherever I went.
Time was never that important. When I was doing it full time, I treated it like any full-time job. I wrote and edited all day long, and the time of day became irrelevant, influenced only by when I'd run out of gas. Now, however, the time to write has become a commodity, and I was forced to find that perfect time in my schedule where I could do what it is that I need to do to sustain me.
So enter the bedroom, on any weekend morning, and you'll find me there.
I have found that during the waking hours, in bed, is where it works for me now. Sure, I still use my office, but that's for editing now. Saturday and Sunday mornings (regardless of a gig the night before) see me up and stumbling to the kitchen to make a pot of coffee. Then on the way back to bed, I grab the laptop.
Then the still-sleeping mind slowly unravels itself onto the keyboard.
Sometimes the thrill is not remembering what I'd done in those waking hours, because as it goes I'm strong for about three hours, and then I have to stop for fear of losing quality. I put the laptop back in my office, and the rest of the day is me walking in and out, sitting in front of the laptop for a tweak here and there before wandering off again. This works for me now, especially with this new manuscript, in which I've just hit ten chapters and over 100 pages.
Where is your sweet spot?
The Fourth and Fifth Rounds
I'd like to start off this post by first apologizing to the few literary agents that I queried over the holidays. Leave it to the rookie to foul-up the game by not knowing the rules. But I'll get to that soon.
I sent the Fourth Round of queries out on October 6, 2013 after a lengthy revision process to both the manuscript and the query letter itself, making the whole package more accessible based entirely on what I'd learned from the first three rounds and from reading more books. That last part is important. I always feel the need to stress in this blog how I do indeed read in addition to write, but I suppose what I really mean is that I've read a variety of different books in different genres just to get a feel for flow and structure and so forth from one type of book to the next.
The result was not only a more readable manuscript, but also a grabber of a query letter that managed to get ... and may I get a broken snare-drum roll here ... my first request for a partial! Sure, it's since been rejected, but damnit if I didn't frame that thing! In a way, it was the most important correspondence I've gotten to date!
The months then went by as the rejections came in, as well as one more request for a partial that went unanswered. While waiting, and building on the idea that writers are always either submitting or writing new stuff, I continued to hammer out the first draft of a new book. In this area I'm back to my old self again, feeling that sense of peace that I mentioned in a previous blog, where nothing else quite compares. A writer is at their happiest when they're producing new pages.
On Christmas Eve 2013, I sent out a round of resubmissions to agents who I hadn't heard from in a while (who didn't specify on their website the "no response=rejection" policy) in addition to a new, Fifth Round of queries. The latter was a huge mistake, as some came back with immediate auto-replies saying that their offices were closed, while one in particular said that my query would be deleted. It made me wonder how many of the few I sent out in Christmas Eve were actually going to be deleted, and so I now plan to send them out again strictly as a technicality on the first of next month, hoping that these agencies will grant me the Mulligan. In the meantime, the Sixth Round will be put together with an updated query letter.
The lesson: there are bad times to send out query letters, one of which being the holidays. Some blogs disagree with this, but most simply explain the point by asking the prospective author to put themselves in the shoes of the agents and/or their assistants. Would you want to deal with anything at your job coming in when you should be heading out?
Likewise, the first week of January automatically puts you in the "resolution pile" of authors who vowed at the beginning of the year to finally get those query letters out once and for all. This can be an insulting thing to consider if in fact you've been querying all year. But again, put yourself in the agent's and/or their assistant's shoes, and all is understood.
And so it goes. I'm making progress in that the manuscript is floating around out there in some important hands, and maybe some not-so-important hands, and I can only assume that my name has been uttered by more than a few literary agents and/or their assistants. A new book is being written, and so far so good.
From the Journals (12/16/13)
The following is a passage from the novel The Map of Time by Felix J. Palma (pictured):
Not even the touch on the skin of the delicious breeze heralding the arrival of summer, nor caressing a woman's body, nor sipping Scotch whiskey in the bathtub until the water goes cold, in short, no other pleasure Wells could think of gave him a greater sense of well-being than when he added the final full stop to a novel. This culminating act always filled him with a sense of giddy satisfaction born of the certainty that nothing he could achieve in life could fulfill him more than writing a novel, no matter how tedious, difficult, and thankless he found the task, for Wells was one of those writers who detest writing but love "having written."
There is so much truth to these sentences that it's as if I've found a sibling in this grouping of words, a truth that is so unlike a truth but rather a matter of fact, never having to prove itself as being otherwise. Like I felt about Woody Allen in his movie "Midnight in Paris," writers just get other writers and cater to them as such. Last night, I read my last completed chapter so far, and it left me stunned and so satisfied that I slept better than I'd slept in a long time.