19 December 2014

Interview with E. S. Gibson

I met Liz through her aunt and uncle, who had invited me over for dinner one night. A self-possessed, intelligent young woman of fifteen, she was introduced to me as a writer. "Do you have something I can read?" I asked her. She did. The first few pages of her novella, Splinter. I started reading silently and was soon laughing out loud, at which point I insisted on reading aloud to the whole party. The narrator was intelligent, emotional and charming in a self-deprecating, self-aware way, perhaps a bit like Bridget Jones or like Iris in the movie The Holiday (played by Kate Winslet).

Fast forward a year or two to November 2014, and Liz - after much work - has self-published Splinter, a young adult speculative fiction novella. But I'll let her tell you more about that in her interview, which I'm honored to bring you today.

Congratulations on publishing your first book! Will you tell us a little bit about it?
Splinter follows the story of a girl caught in the web of a corrupt, futuristic entertainment industry. The whole idea is that as the outside world falls apart, so does the inside. Although most of the plot takes place inside the movie, one can determine what’s going on behind the scenes by watching the events that unfold in Eve’s world. A lot of the content in the movie may seem meaningless and sporadic, and sometimes just downright wrong (believe me, Bathos’s scenes were no cakewalk to write), but I encourage readers compare the subject matter to that which is seen in film today—I think many will find it eerily reflective.

17 December 2014

Battling vacationitis

When I was in high school, senioritis was the commonly acknowledged phenomenon of young men and women in their final year of high school who anticipated being done with it to the point of hardly being able to sit still, much less actually pay attention to lectures. People with senioritis might skip classes more often than they'd ever been known to do before and/or consistently fail to turn in homework, though they'd been diligent enough before.

What I have these days is a case of vacationitis. I'm going on vacation starting Saturday, but my body and mind have decided that's not quite soon enough. They lure me into reading for enjoyment when I should be working, which is exactly why I'm writing this post so late at night. I finished a 700-page book today. I'm tired. Hence, this will be short.

ROW80 Update 
"A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life."

12 December 2014

Gift ideas for you(r beloved reader/writer)

Like many people, I have a complex relationship to holiday gift-giving. Certainly I appreciate gifts when they're thoughtful and useful, but for me, gifts do not equal love. For whatever reason (genetics? social conditioning? abnormal brain chemistry?) it's just not something I care about. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, I'd much rather have someone's time and attention than something they bought for me in a store.

Giving gifts can be tremendously fun, but only under the right circumstances: I see something that reminds me of someone, I'm reasonably certain they will appreciate it and that they wouldn't/couldn't buy it for themselves, and I can afford to spare the money to buy it for them. This idea of having to run about frantically trying to buy something for everyone in my family/friend circle/neighborhood because of holiday tradition is both stressful and, it seems to me, unnecessary. And then there's that whole pressure to be a consumer, which I don't buy into (pun intended)...

Diatribe aside, I know that many people truly enjoy giving and receiving gifts at this time of year. That it is, in fact, important to many people. People who don't share my cynicism and lack of romanticism about the gesture. If you are one of those people, this post is for you, for here I have compiled lists of books and one writing tool that you might consider purchasing for a beloved reader or writer in your life.

And if you're not the gift-buying kind, you can always pick up one of these items for yourself. Perhaps at the library? ;*)

10 December 2014

Continuing the good progress

This week has been a good mix so far of business and pleasure/social life, thanks to reconnecting with an old friend. A while ago I decided to stop working 10-12 hours a day and stick to 6-8 a day, which has left most evenings free to hang out with family, go to shows and relax. What a difference it makes to my energy levels!

On that note, it's time for my weekly check-in about my own writing process and projects...

ROW80 Update
"A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life."

Show up to writing 2-3 hours/day.   
Mostly on track. Which is to say I continue to show up to writing every day and accomplish things, which feels really good. This week so far I've had a breakthrough about my pseudonym's WIP and am *this close* to being done with the short story I've been editing. I  have also written a short creative nonfiction piece about having dinner with a friend I hadn't seen in a long time (an exercise in writing a scene from daily life and something I'd like to do more often), a short poem, and some random fragments that happened to float into my head.

Be an active ROW80 sponsor.
On track.

An editing secret


Today I had a conversation with my developmental editor, Diane, about a short story I've been working on for a while. A few observations about that conversation:
  •  While discussing the intelligent, compassionate and constructive feedback I received from several different readers, I experienced a range of emotions: frustration, impatience, disappointment, confusion, anger. Not because the feedback was negative or discouraging but because something in me rebelled against the directions they were pushing me to go. They had some excellent points, but some of their suggestions didn't feel right.
  • "If you've written the story as well as you possibly can," said Diane at one point, "then you're done." Given another ten (or twenty or hundred) years, I'm sure I could write the story better. I could even spend another 20 hours this month playing around with structure and point of view and experimenting with expanding it in certain ways. But that's not what I want for myself. I don't want to even spend another 10 hours on this story. I want to finish this story in another three or four hours tops and move on to other things because I've already given it quite a lot of time, attention and brain space.
  • Then Diane articulated quite clearly the core of the story - also sometimes called "the center of gravity" or the "theme" - and light bulbs went off in my head. Suddenly I understood what the problem was and saw how to fix it. Hallelujah! (Well, I think. I'm going to revise the story on that assumption and run it by Diane again to see if that fixes it.)

This led us to a discussion about my approach to editing in response to developmental feedback, which I realized I wanted to share here with you.