Monday, January 25, 2010

On The Job Training...

So today I had kind of a shock...a good one...a Google alert pointed me to a Publisher's Weekly article listing upcoming Spring 2010 fiction/first novels -- one book per publisher -- and ROCK PAPER TIGER was the pick under Soho. I don't know if this is any kind of big deal or not, but it felt a little...weird.

I realized that for all the years I've been writing and pursuing a creative career, I've never actually thought much about what it would feel like to have some small success. I'm still not sure what I feel, to be honest (and it's too early to be making pronouncements about "success" in any case). But I seem to be spending a lot of time reflecting on writing as a career and what it means to be an author, on how I'm handling it and what I might do better.

Writers talk a lot about the passion they have for their work. I'm not sure if passion is what drives me. Passion implies an excitement, a thrill, and though I'll hit stretches when everything flows and I'm feeling some of that, I can't count on passion to get me through an entire novel. Novels are, you know, long. Very very long. And they have to be rewritten a lot. And when you sell them, there's even more work involved.

What I count on instead is a certain pride in craft, consistency and the small amount of discipline that I possess. And patience. Patience that I'm going to be able to solve the next problem in front of me. Patience to not get too freaked out when it isn't coming or it's coming really slowly. The importance of patience is something I'm just now figuring out.

So what does this have to do with my odd reaction about having my book featured in a PW article? (which though hard to define, I'm guessing might have something to do with shyness, embarrassment, a fear of exposure...)

I think, maybe, this is connected to my desire to do a good job. Because at a certain point, namely, the point where people are paying you for your work, it is a job, not just a passion. And right now, one of the things I'm feeling is that I'm not working hard enough at improving my skills, at doing a better job.

I need to read more good books, books that can teach me something about craft. I don't mean books about the craft of writing, but books that illustrate it. I want to read great stories, beautiful language, rounded, developed characters.

Suggestions, anyone?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Bad blogger...

No donut. Hell no. I'm having a glass of Rioja...

So far the end of last year and the beginning of this one have been kind of tough. I'm rooting for a positive change when the Year of the Tiger rolls around on February 14th.

Anyway, I'll be back with a new post in a day or two, and hell, I might even do one about writing. Yeah, that.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Please consider a donation for Haiti

The news coming out of Haiti is beyond horrific. So many people already living on the razor's edge; now this.

Nathan Bransford has links to Doctors Without Borders on his site -- they are a fine organization. You can also text "HAITI" to 90999 to donate $10 to @RedCross relief efforts in #Haiti. It is that simple. Learn more here.

I know these are tough times, but every little bit helps in the face of something like this.

UPDATE: The text messaging campaign was set up by the State Department, which is coordinating the massive relief efforts underway. They've already raised three million dollars that's going for immediate needs on the ground. Keep it coming, folks. And you can't go wrong with Doctors Without Borders either. Oxfam is another good choice.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Laura Hruska

This is not the post with which I wanted to return to blogging, but so far this young year seems to be marked by loss.

Laura Hruska, publisher and editor-in-chief of Soho Press, passed away this weekend. She was a cofounder of the press, profoundly shaping its strong and idiosyncratic vision.

I never got to meet Laura. I was hoping to do so this summer. What I know about her is that she helped create a publishing company with real vision and guts and integrity. That she took chances. She took a chance on me and my book, and I will always be profoundly grateful for that.

Another thing I know about her: not long before her death, she did an interview with the Houston Chronicle about Stuart Neville's wonderful GHOSTS OF BELFAST, in which she managed to not only promote the subject of the interview but get in plugs for a whole range of upcoming Soho titles, including mine.

Now that's a publisher.

She will be missed.

Here are some links to articles about her...

Idiosyncratic Mind

Stuart Neville's blog

Shelf Awareness

Houston Chronicle article

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Welcome 2010...

It's a new year and a new decade. I've had some things going on that have made posting impossible for the last two weeks. I'll be back on it soon, with a few more posts about my China trip, among other things...

Wishing everyone the best for this new beginning...