Afrah. No, I'm just kidding. Well, I am at Afrah, but I'm almost always at Afrah when I'm writing these things. Something about Mediterranean food is conducive to column-writing. To say nothing of free wi-fi. Currently snarfing down an akkawi pie with fried kibbe and wondering how life could get any better. Well, I mean apart from everything I'm about to tell you, which is kind of sucky. Into every life some suckiness must fall. Some things are just more sucky than others.
To begin with, I crossed over onto page 101 this morning in my slow-but-steady work-in-progress. This is a milestone, to be sure. Your Average Novel turns out to be between 400 and 500 typed pages, so 100 pages is one-quarter of the way there. Or one-fifth. If I like actually took more time to work on it, I'm sure it'd be moving along faster. Right now it's getting squeezed in between getting up in the morning and hitting the pool, which is not a lot of time. But it is moving. It still hasn't told me what in hell it wants to be about, which I'd really liked to have figured out by now, but maybe it'll get to that before page 200.
(I might also add, I got stuck for a few days. My protagonist was attending a funeral and as he was sneaking out the back--since he wasn't supposed to be there in the first place--somebody put a hand on his shoulder and said, "Your Honor." [My protagonist is a judge.] I was three days figuring out whose hand it was. I think I pulled it off, but, you know, time went by.)
So there's that, and then there's query letters. I've also passed 100 query letters for Mindbender, which, to quote Wayne from Wayne's World, "is both bogus and sad." Now this was interesting: No. 100 was actually a lot harder than 101, 102, 103 and the happy-go-lucky ones that followed. Something about the symbology of those double zeroes. 100 pages, 100 letters. It's annoyingly close to looking for a job when you don't have one.
Okay, nobody said this was going to be easy. And Stephen King wrote six thousand query letters while he and his wife lived in an unheated trailer in Edinburgh in the winter and he wrote the first six Harry Potter books on scraps of construction paper he got from his job at an industrial laundry or something like that. But still. At some point you start asking yourself if you've written something that's basically unpublishable. Should you give up and write something else? Or would that be quitting?
I'm not gonna answer that, mainly because I have no idea. It probably wouldn't hurt to be pushing two, maybe three projects at a time. Let's hear it for tracking software, otherwise I don't know how I'd do it. I'm not sure how I do it even with tracking software. I can say, though, that since that drawing came into my house, Scaley and Fang are doing a great job of not bothering me. I attribute part of that to my big cat, Caesar, also. His job around the house is to keep dinosaurs out of the kitchen. He's very good at it. Even when he's napping on the job, you won't see a dinosaur for miles.
Luckily, I have a Team. Well, more of a Committee. That's the gang of folks that makes your life easier, whether they know it or not. Head of the Committee is Joan, of course. Rhett, my friend from the writer's workshop in New Orleans, is a close second; he sent me the nicest email when I started complaining about Query Letter 100, and then told me to shut up and get back to work. Then there's Tammy and Tracy and perpetual dinners out, wherever they may be, and everybody at my office who makes the rest of my day halfway normal. (I need halfway normal. I am never, ever going to quit my day job to write full time. It is just never going to happen. I need the normalness of an office. It's like heroin. I also need health insurance.) And then there's my writer's group. That chummy bunch of like minded folks who--
--uh, haven't met in three months. In fact, it may have been longer than that. According to my BlackBerry calendar, it might have been as long ago as January.
Scheduling conflicts. Big church holidays. Work getting in the way. You know how it is.
So here's what I did.
I cheated on my writer's group.
Yep. I went and hung out with a bunch of other writers. And amongst the group I met one guy that would be awesome to have in a writer's group. I emailed him and told him I was interested. He hasn't written me back yet. Don't know if he will or not. But really, that would be awesome.
Anyway, that's where I'm at. Smacking up against 100, committing literary adultery with a bunch of total strangers, and not so incidentally about to turn 43 in a couple weeks. Oh, and at Afrah. And since this was not an Official Talk Thursday Topic, I'll probably be cranking out another column here in the next couple of days. Maybe I'll tell you all about the new roof, water heater, plastering work and paint in our library. I hope so, anyway. Because I've been waiting a long bloody time for items two through four, and really, I'm ready to have them installed any day now.