Monday, September 28, 2009

Blog Stew

It is dark and quiet and windy right now, and I have a chance to catch up on a few things.
Or, more importantly, decide what to focus on right now. There are just too many chunks in the stew. Artwork has been put inexcusably on hold for Writing. Now Writing is out in the world, being ripped apart in the agent query cattle call/cage match, and I realized that I haven't updated the artwork on my own actual website in months.
Not that I haven't been working, it was just little assignments. Not portfolio pieces. I think it's time for the final revision of a picture book dummy that has been languishing for too long now. Researching agents has led me to a surprising number of houses that rep author/illustrators. This is encouraging.

Also encouraging- we saw Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs last week. Very funny without being gross, very cute without being sappy, very hyper without becoming annoying. The 5 year old loved it. And the animation was gorgeous. The story was nothing like the classic storybook, aside from the giant food in the sky, but it was refreshingly well done. Just like in books, there is nothing that irritates me more than a movie that looks slapped together or sub-par because it's written for kids.
And I think we finally have a computer animation studio that can compete with Pixar on the quality level.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

In which I go all Stuart Smalley on your- manuscript

Okay, first I have to congratulate myself and Mr. Cate on hitting anniversary #7 last weekend. Go us! Marriage is a lot like writing, isn't it? Some passages turn out brilliant on the first draft, and other ones, well... you really earn. It's those of us that are working the hardest that make it look the easiest.

Anyway, onwards and upwards, to a topic near and dear to all of our hearts, big, smelly 'ol rejection. Yep. Turned down, escorted out, no date for the prom.
I've had some encouraging little ego boosts in regard to my writing (and most importantly improving my writing) lately, and so now is probably the time to write something smug and pithy about rejection, because it comes for all of us, like chicken pox used to when we were kids. If you don't get it early, you won't have immunity later, and it will really hurt and possibly make you sterile.

Does getting rejected mean your writing is no good? Or your book unpublishable? Not necessarily. Every time I'm in the bookstore, I have to play the exact same game as the agent facing that inbox o' slush. I don't have the money to buy every book I want. There are thousands to choose from. So the elimination process has to get pretty rigid. Books get taken out of the running immediately for being too short, too long, wrong genre, terrible cover art. Arbitrary, yes, but can I read every single one before I make my decision? No.
Then step two- actually pulling the book off the shelf and reading the back cover, or the first few pages. Think of how far that book has come, just getting selected off the shelf of two hundred others. Now more random disqualifiers; writing style, point of view, prologue, no prologue, realizing it's the first in a series of 20, and I have a thing about commitment... the "reasons" are endless. I just have to find a way to pick 4 books I really would like to read out of a pool of 100,000.

I'm just saying, when you get that "no" it doesn't really mean that you can't write, or that the agent/editor hates you, or it is the worst injustice of your life. It means you have to remember the 2 rules of being crazy enough to write for publication.

1. There is always, always room for improvement.

2. Everyone who has ever been published has heard more NOs than YESes.