Friday, October 27, 2006

Hi Todd!

Todd is this crazy guy in my office. His job is to spend a ton of time on the phone talking users through problems and apologizing for any troubles our systems are causing them. On the side, he assembles computers to sell to people. But for some reason, still considers them his. He's often saying things like "What have you done with my computer?". I think he has separation anxiety.

He also tends to love this thing called s..poooortz? Something like that. Apparently, it's like the live action role play of such outstanding games like Madden and Virtua Tennis.

That's all I'll say about him just at this moment, only because he insists I mention him. He's on the intarweb! he's FAMOUS!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

I'm Writing a Novel

Well, I'm not writing a novel. I've written. And now I"m painstakingly editing and submitting to publishers and agents. It's exactly as exciting as it sounds. So, what does this mean in the end? What happens when Jay get's all published and stuff? Astounding fame? Dizzying fortune? A calvacade of escalades, all pimping with sick kicks and overflowing with Kristal? Almost precisely that, actually.

Let me drop some science for all you would-be novelists. Here's how it goes down. You write the novel. A whole different, cumberously titanic ball of wax altogether. It involves TONS of reading, just reading lots of different fiction, as well as books and articles on how to write. It also involves, be still my stars, gads of writing. Writing until the little letters on you keyboard are worn to nothing, and they start to look like the sinister and generic keyboards found aboard the Death Star. It involves stopping any other activity in your life (luckily for me, I'm a man of no hobbies or interests).

Then you submit to publishers and agents, hoping that the former will buy your book, and that the latter will believe in you enough to get the former to publish your book. You get rejected. Alot. JK Rowlling apparently got rejected 17 times. Stephen King used a RAILROAD SPIKE to lance his rejection slips to the wall. These are the bestest mostest sellingest authors in the whole universe. "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" was rejected, hold onto your pantaloons, ONE HUNDRED and TWENTY SEVEN TIMES, over SIX years. That's dedication.

So you get rejected, over and over and over again. You get embittered. Hopefully take up some sort of substance addiction as that's all the rage. King, Hemingway, Poe, what do they all have in common? They liked the sauce!

Everyone tells you your book is either 1) lame and why do you bother? or 2) great, and why hasn't it ever been published? I'm not sure which one is going to be more painful. You trudge on. You persevere. You keep writing your second, third, etc novel.

At some point the rejection letters actually have some personlized response on top of the form rejection. You cherish these, use this to improve your writing. You keep writing.

At some point, many years from now, when all wide eyed optimism -- of a heady and easy life writing on a quirkily anachronistic typewriter at a banged up and historied desk overlooking the ocean -- has been lost. You'll get accepted. Maybe. Not for sure, not guaranteed. You might toil away and never get published. Accept it. But let's say Faeries live, Americans will start building cars that don't suck, and anime will one day have a cartoon in which a massive explosion or ninjas aren't prominent, let's just say you get published.

What happens then? For the amount of toil and time you put into your darling novel, you get paid approximately half of minimum wage. Assuming minimum wage is 7 bucks. It's basically an advance on royalties that your book will most likely never earn out. The average advance is about $5-7 grand.

I KNOW I KNOW! Where do you sign up, right? Open up Word (or Writer from Open Office if you are really cool). Put your quavering and expectant hands to the keyboard. Start writing.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Top 10 Reasons to go to the Surrey Int'l Writer's Conference

So the incredibly cheery head coordinator lady has been asking for writer's to submit their top 10 reasons to go to the SiWC. I'm not sure what her sarcasm or bitterness level is. Judging by her verve and energy, I'm imaging it's quite low. So here, for all three of my readers, is my top 9 reasons to go:
  • Because throwing a huge socializing event for introverts is an act of pure optimism
  • Most expensive way to procrastinate
  • More fun being nervous and insecure together
  • Because lately, I've actually been feeling kinda optimistic about getting my book published.
  • Because I can't persuade my wife to sen me to the "Venice International Writer's Festival"
  • Because being around other people who cares about words is a treat.
  • Because hope springs eternal.
  • To prove to myself that editors are not, in fact, a Intimus 852 VS industrial cross cut paper shredde
  • To dispel the myth that agents are not, in fact, a highly sophisticated spam filter.
  • To experience the edgy, touchy, and eager competitiveness I haven't experienced since my grade six spelling bee.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Writer's Conference

So I'm at my very first Writer's Conference. Think of it as the only time when you can get a bunch of introverts together to fumble through the process of social interaction. All in order to get their work out into the world. It's a harrowing creation.

It's kind of like writing your novel all over again. In writing a novel, when you look at your peers, everyone is struggling, fighting their own personal demons, trying to get words to paper. You're in it for the long haul, it's daily battles to win the war. Everyone has a book idea to get on paper, that's the norm. At a conference, everyone has a novel written, that's the norm, and everyone is trying to get anyone to care.

At a Writer's Conference, everyone is particularly interested in telling everyone else about what they are doing. It's not any different from real life, in that respect, at least among strangers: everyone waiting for the other person to stop talking so they can talk about themselves. Not that there is anything wrong with it. But at the Writer's Conference, there is a particular desperation to it. Here are folks, who are in many respects just like you, bringing their babies (their novels, memoirs, book of small Tibetan Progressive Throat Poetry) to the butcher, more or less. Everyone is walking around literaly shimmering with the nervous energy that I imagine a first time nudist might have when joining a Colony. Terribly insecure, unsure, and waiting for the Hammer of Judgement to fall.

On the agent/editor side, you are wading through the miles and miles of dreck to get to anything you want to publish. To make things a bit worse, even if you do find something you like,you won't necessarily be able to publish it (your lineup for that sort of writing is full, your house doesn't want to do another book like that as they lost kajillions on the last one they gambled on).

And then there is the pitch, a witty spiel in which you try and sell an agent or an editor on your piece. It's somewhat absurd, as chances are, you are not going to be reading the book live to your readers. One of the editors here even said he's not fond of pitches. This makes sense. A reader doesn't read the pitch, they read the book. My personal opinion is that it's an extrovert's revenge upon the introverts. I would imagine agents (not so much editors) are extroverted people; that is, they are energized when they speak with people. Naturally, a verbal spiel with the whole song and dance is the most logical thing in the world for them. For writers, it's a mini dante's hell (I'm only vaguely aware of what dante's hell might be, but it looks clever, doesn't it?)

It's such a labrynth of unknown pitfals and alleys here at the conference. Sure there are seminars and what not, but one is never quite sure what one is supposed to get out of it. Particularly because many rules in writing are broken again and again. And then there are the millions of things one shouldn't do. Such as, don't show anyone your work. Or don't ask if you can show anyone your work, which seems like the first thing one would want to do when confronted by an armyof editors and agents.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

I'm a Dad!

Trying to think of something witty to say about fatherhood that hasn't been said about a billion times in as many languages is next to impossible. It's also only really exciting to people who are close to me (who, coincidentally, are the only people who know about or read this site); and those people already know I'm a dad, like, 2 months ago.

But yes, it's great! The baby is cute, doesn't talk back, and really only has a limited number of things it could possibly want. And for now, none of those are cash money or the keys to my car. So everything is good.

For those of you not in the know, newborn babies really only have a small spectrum of expressions. It's basically discomfort; threatening to be a full out cry; full out cry; and a vague sense of contentment which is fleeting as it segues quickly into sleep.

Emotionally, I find her incredibly cute, but scientifically, I realize there are MILLIONS OF YEARS OF EVOLUTION pressuring me to find the baby cute. I don't really stand a chance. It's kind of like saying I like food when I'm hungry. We are designed to think so.

Talking about fatherhood and the baby with coworkers and friends is more tricky than most new dads would admit. On one hand, you don't want to bore those who have no interest in kids; and on the other, you don't want to come off as callous and cruel with a hint of cold-bloodedness. I usually err on the cold-bloodedness side, as of the two, I'd much rather not bore someone with the ever so cute details, trials and tribulations that fatherhood brings.

To be honest, when all you have is a newborn, I'm not even sure I can call myself a father yet. It's not like I do anything in the way of guiding and such. I help burp, clean, change diapers, and put to sleep that cute little bundle. Right now, I'm marking down my fatherhood as 'extended, live-in babysitting'. I think I'lll consider it fatherhood when my daughter has a pierced nose, enough eye-liner to sink the Titanic, listening to "music" that is "JUST NOISE DAMNIT" and slamming the door with the standard scream of "I hate you!".

Or maybe it's all fatherhood, what do I know?

I sure hope I don't go through my entire fatherhood never quite sure whether or not I'm experiencing fatherhood. I'm sure there is recursion or a tautology in there somewhere.