I’m Doing Exactly What I Shouldn’t Be Doing
According to George R.R. Martin and agents across the U.S. (I assume that, in this case, Pub Rants speaks eloquently for them), I am not writing what I should be writing. Here.
Here’s the thing about all of us out here doing our writing. We’re doing what we want to do. We want it to be the best it can be. There is a lot of helpful and correct advice out there – whether it’s tips on craft from Steph Sinkhorn, Things to Consider from Wicked & Tricksy, or more tips from Janice Hardy. And we’re going to read those smart posts (because they are – not being snarky here), and we’re going to think, Yes, I’m doing that. Thanks, Steph and Janice, for affirming my writing.
Even if what I’m doing is exactly the opposite of what they’re saying. See, I’ve got this blind spot right… over… here.
And thanks, too, to Margo and SB and Sommer and Claudie for their observations, and especially to Agent Kirsten, who’s gone out of her way to point out that this is GEORGE FREAKING MARTIN talking, not just her (bet you didn’t know that “R.R.” stands for “Freaking,” did you?). Because I can dismiss Agent Kirsten, who’s only an agent and what do agents really know anyway, but George “Freaking” Martin is writing the epic of epics and has been picked up by HBO and one might think he knows a thing or two.
And I think, yes, George, you’re right. This is good advice. For other people. But I’m special, so I will continue on my merry way. My books are different.
Okay, that’s not the thought process verbatim, but that is what we think. Well – I think that’s what we think. That’s my experience as a grad student and as a teacher. We’ll go ahead and do things our own way because, when it comes down to it
1) this is what I want to do and
2) my work is pretty damn good (if I do say so myself).
Here’s where you wonder if I’m going to take George R.R. Martin’s advice.
But it’s not because he’s wrong (he’s right) and it’s not because my manuscripts are great (they’re not), but because this is the project that I want to do right now and damn the torpedoes. Because you know what? Ever since I was six years old I have wanted to write a book. And then I wrote my thesis in grad school and it wasn’t quite what I wanted, book-wise. And then I wrote my dissertation, and it wasn’t quite what I wanted either. And then I finished A Watchful Eye, which has never been approved (much less seen) by a graduate school committee and it was what I’d always wanted. Fiction. Fun. Finished. All those ideas I had when I was growing up may have gone nowhere, but this one did. If I’m ever published, you can bet I’ll pour a drink and dance a jig, but just getting this far has been ecstatic-making.
I’m now slogging through Manuscript #2, because this project is the next hurdle, it’s not just the next book. And I have to finish all five books before I can even think about copy-editing (overlapping time for five novels being what it is). Which means that I have 3.65 more manuscripts to write plus polishing on each individually plus copy-editing the whole damn thing before serious querying becomes an option. And that has a bunch of other ramifications which involve me banging hammers more frequently than I have been this past year, and that’s okay, too.
Here are the lessons I learned from Agent Kirsten’s post at Pub Rants:
1) Don’t do what I’m doing if you’re determined to get it published through traditional means at all costs. It’s not smart.
2) Do exactly what it is you want to do if it’s the writing that makes you happy and you’re not dependent on an agent (and then a publisher, et cetera and so on)
I mean, come on. If you can’t learn something from George R.R. Martin about writing fantasy series, who can you learn from?
Meantime, I said I’d post my pitch and query about A Watchful Eye, so here they are. FYI, the pitch is limited to roughly 100 words (or what you can say in 30 seconds – thus “elevator pitch”). The query is roughly limited to 250 words.
I’m working on a series of interlocking young adult fantasy novels. A Watchful Eye follows Samantha Perry, who literally oozes misfortune from her skin. She finds a bone sundial that infects her with its bad luck – which includes attracting the attention of half-seen monsters – and causes her to run away from home. All she has to do is steal a matching box made of ink and a magical quill from her best friends and she’ll be fine, assuming she can stay away from the monsters and the boy who commands them.
Samantha Perry doesn’t just think she’s bad luck – she literally oozes it from her pores. Half-seen monsters started chasing her when she found the sundial at thirteen years old. By the time she realized it was special and that it was connected to two other special things, a box and a quill, she couldn’t just throw the sundial away. A car accident smashed it into her face.
Now years later, ugly, limping, and on the run, she holds misfortune inside her body. She’s learned to smear her bad luck on the people and things that get in her way, and she’s found the box and the quill. To get back home, she’ll have to steal them. To steal them, she’ll have to rob them from her closest friends. She’ll have to count her betrayal of them as a positive development, because that will mean that the monsters – and the malevolent boy who commands them – won’t have killed them all first.
A Watchful Eye is a young adult urban fantasy novel, the third in a series of five. Told from five different perspectives, each book overlaps and builds on the events of the others. Everyone is the hero of their own story.