Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 24, 2007, 4:11 PM

Just a quick post to say Merry Christmas to all the friends I've made through this blog. We've all made achievements, some small, some huge, in the field of writing. Here's hoping we can build on them in 2008. :)

A Sobering Read...

Thursday, December 20, 2007, 9:59 PM

Because my last blog post was far too cute and fluffy, here is a link to a sobering piece by author Michael Fuchs on the realities of being published. Well worth a read.


Sunday, December 16, 2007, 7:39 PM

Now, I'm not one for cutesy stuff, but has some very funny cat pics that users submit with captions. The more bizarre ones made me (and the rest of my office) laugh the hardest. Here are a few of my favourites...

The Perfect Couple (or how to avoid adverbs and passive voice)

Monday, December 10, 2007, 9:11 PM

An interesting piece appeared on Every Day Fiction today. It's a short-short by Christopher Kastensmidt entitled A Perfect Couple, and it's entirely made up of two word sentences, each containing a subject and a verb. I was impressed by this exercise in economy, and how the writer says so much with so little. While one could argue that it's more interesting as a cerebral exercise than as a work of fiction, I think it's a lesson in how unneccessary a lot of the words we use in writing really are. Check it out and let me know what you think.

The results of the survey are in, and they're...

Sunday, December 02, 2007, 2:54 PM


Thanks to all of you who took part in my "What do I write next?" survey. Out of six votes, the numbers for the four ideas are as follows:

Idea 2: 2 votes.
Idea 3: 2 votes.
Idea 4: 1 vote.
Idea 1: 1 vote.

Now, some of you folks actually ranked the four ideas, and in light of that, Idea 4 got a couple of second preferences, as did Ideas 3 and 2. So, whether I use the first-past-the-post system, or proportional representation, my little experiment in democracy has failed to produce a clear winner.

While the experiment didn't provide a conclusive result, it did illustrate just how slippery the matter of personal taste can be. You all gave reasoned arguments for your preferences, and while there were some consistencies that I've taken on board, there was also wide variation in opinion. Idea 1 was clearly the weakest, though possibly more because of my half-arsed pitch than anything else, and Idea 4 did much better than I thought it would. Idea 2 was the most divisive, which I suppose is hardly surprising given the emotive and dark subject matter.

All this goes to show that when pitching a novel to an agent or editor, one person's meat is another's poison. A rejection or offer could very well hinge on the nebulous vagaries of that individual's own personal likes and dislikes. This is something we all know in our conscious minds, but deep down, we don't believe it. A form rejection will likely read "Not right for us", but the writer sees the words "Not good enough" in their place. No matter how often blogging agents or editors tell us it's about getting the right fit with their own tastes, I don't think we'll ever truly believe that. We take a rejection as "Not good enough" regardless of the true reasons for passing. But this experiment shows that half a dozen writers, all with good experience and judgement, saw entirely different strengths and weaknesses in the ideas pitched.

So, there is one conclusion: "Not right for us" means exactly what it says.

Anyway, so which idea am I going to go with? It was always between ideas 2 and 3, and the results have confirmed that. Idea 2 has more personal resonance for me, while Idea 3 is a more deliberate attempt at something commercial. And I still don't know which one to go with. Grrr. In the meantime, I'll be seeing if I can push some of these short stories I've got hanging about my hard drive...

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