Sunday, December 17, 2006

Eben Reilly

Blogging can be a lonely business.

Sitting on a beach, jotting down notes to stuff into bottles to fling out past the waves. (Hey, how does anyone do that anyway? Don't the bottles just come back to shore?)

Which is how blogging can feel: tossing out ideas that arrive back at your own feet.

Except when like-minded writers respond.

Mel Glenn has been a steady, acclaimed author of 14 volumes of YA poetry/fiction. (Most recently Split Image:
see ) His opinions about literature and how we make it come from hard won success in (even for seasoned writers) a tough industry.

Here are Mel's thoughts on today's blog:

"The writing process? It is torturous. I love what Dorothy Parker said - "I love having written," or as Mark Twain said - "All writing is rewriting." Cutting is always more difficult than adding. It's like cutting off a part of your arm or telling a child of your to get out of the house. It is a pain in the ass - I hate it, but it is necessary. Right now I am working on a manuscript for which the original idea must have come to me five years ago, and I can't tell you how many times I have rewritten the manuscript. I am selfish; I do not like to share, so I can't collaborate. I love my characters; I hate my characters. They are always in my head to the point where I do not dwell in real time as much as I reside in literary time. Rewriting is a pain in the ass."

Thanks, Mel! Anybody else care to fling out a message in a bottle our way?


At 2:53 PM , Blogger Fuchsia Groan said...

Hi! This is Margot from VT. Sorry I've taken so long to take you up on your invitation, but it's been a busy week.

I have many thoughts about writing, but then, I'm not published as a fiction writer (yet). I'm not sure I could ever collaborate on a novel, because my mind works in strange ways and I'm a control freak. But I've certainly spun a tale with other people, and it's great fun. My sister and I collaborate on her cable access show and occasionally on her blog (I can't figure out links, but it's deadbeatdirt on Blogger). She does all the heavy lifting (ie, video editing), and we come up with ideas and partial scripts together. It reminds me of the March sisters in Little Women who would put on plays-- that was always my ideal!

But back to writing. Right now I'm thinking a lot about the process of selling my novel. Yes, selling it. It sounds crass, but I don't think there's a way around it. My dad is an avant-garde composer who makes his living teaching at a university, so I always thought it was enough to be an "artist" and you'd make money somehow. I found out the hard way this doesn't work, or only for the lucky few!

Not that I think I can make money from my writing; I'd be happy just to see it in print, in a store. So I'm polishing my query and practicing writing a "hook" Every day I visit Miss Snark the literary agent's blog, where she savages the hooks of unpublished writers like me. (I didn't submit mine--not brave enough yet!) Miss Snark and I don't really see eye to eye in our literary tastes (except for loving Thomas Pynchon), but she's taught me a lot via the blog about how agents work and think. I no longer see them as distant or scary, but as bored, capricious, biased people like me. Now, the question is, how can I hit the right one on the right day?

Mel's comments on revision were great. The only tip I know is this: Put it in a drawer for a few months. Don't let yourself read your ms. until you can see it with a fresh eye. When I do this, I find myself making changes that actually work.


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