Saturday, February 28, 2009

Kindlicious

I've been resisting ebooks for a long time. I like my physical paper and bound books. You can have my leather-bound volume of Don Quixote when you pry it from my dead fingers.

Then I became a writer.

Then I started to study the publishing world and trying to understand the seismic (there, I'm the eleventy millionth person to use that metaphor - and "eleventy" for that matter) changes happening there.

Ebooks are going to free authors from publishers.

Ebooks are going to free readers from publishers.

Not sure what traditional publishers are going to be doing 10 years from now. From what I can tell, they're either in massive denial and still think their current business model will be relevant ten years from now, or they're trying to come up with some way to "own" the ebook space and give the appearance of embracing the future when they're really still following the same dead formula.

I just read this article from Slate. I may have misunderstood the article, because I have a hard time believing that a professional technology writer could get it so wrong, but you are NOT limited to only buying from the Kindle store if you buy a Kindle (although their not-so-helpful user information would seem to suggest that's the only outlet available to you). Case in point, go to the support page on an ebook website for simple instructions for Kindle owners to read the bright new content being published, sometimes directly by the authors themselves.

Authors and their fans are taking matters into their own hands. The technology is here. And if you want to get access to reading material that is maybe too darkly humorous, too niche, too fan fiction, too personal or too whatever to be picked up for publishing by a conventional publisher who is forced by their costs and overhead to only pick up works with a broad appeal, then go get ye some kind of ebook reading device. And then go gorge yourself. There is some great writing out there.

And maybe publishers should work on finding out what's going to drive people to purchase a print book instead of an ebook. For me, I'll be buying print books that I feel have some sort of "heirloom" value - it's a classic that I want to be able to look up at and see resting on the library shelf, or an important reference, or it has a personal sentimental value, or the pictures and graphics are too good for ebook consumption - or it's a beloved book that isn't available as an ebook. Ebooks will also dramatically affect the aftermarket for used books in the same way iTunes/mp3's have for CDs, since people won't have so many print books on hand to need to sell again to make room for the next one.

The world of books is changing at lightning speed. And if it means my kids will carry a Kindle instead of a massive backpack full of books to and from school, how cool is that?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Now I've Done It

Yep, I've gone and started book two of a series for which I have yet to sell book one. Heck, for which I have even to get representation for book one. I just couldn't hold off any more. The story is there. The characters are there. It's the end of the month and clients aren't calling, already worried about how much they've spent in fees this month. There were other things I could have done today, but I'm writing. I could be writing a business plan or the site map or ordering my MIL's birthday cake. But I'm writing.

I wish I could tell you what the second story's about. I wish I could talk with someone about it. It's like going to a movie that you really enjoyed and then finding out you're not allowed to discuss it with anyone. Somewhere I read that if you're doing a series, you have have have to keep the plotline and driving conflict for the subsequent books under wraps. I guess this makes sense. Arggh.

It feels good to be writing new material again, though. It feels especially good to return to this particular story, to allow it to proceed again. The rewrite process on the first book helped me understand what the story was about. Now I feel like I have a better foundation for this story, but I also know that I do not, at this point, understand the full significance of what's going to happen to the characters this time. I have a very general sense of what they will be faced with and how it will happen, but the meaning, that deeper level where the story starts to resonate with universal human themes, won't emerge to me (or I won't figure it out - duh) until much later. For now, it's just write what flows and then go back and go back and go back. And then, eventually, "Aaaah. I get it."

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Longing to Write

I can't get the next book out of my head. Or other future books I'd like to write some day. Thoughts, strings of words that I can see on the page, pass through my mind while I'm changing Ada's diaper, doing the dishes, filling in timeslips for January billing. I want to stop doing whatever it is that I'm doing and run to my computer and write. I don't want to make dinner. I don't want to sit on a conference call. I don't want to feed the animals and fold laundry. I want to write. It doesn't matter to me whether it's good or not yet - I'm missing the creative process, the feeling of building something, and then starting to see what it is emerge, cutting away what was wrong or untrue. Writing is like sculpting. The story already exists, perfectly told, tantalizing and enthralling, out there in the ethers. I tease out a thread of it. A character makes a surprising decision. Ah, I see now. I didn't realize that about you. I write on. Someone new shows up. I don't know why yet, but I explore them with my words. I shut out everything else. The characters keep trying to tell me their story when I finally go to bed at night. I get up again and write down notes, then beg them to leave me alone for just a few hours. I watch them behind my eyes, showing me their scenes and who they are. When I get stuck, I get up and make tea, water the garden, weed. When I sit down again I make myself write through it. I probably don't have it right yet, but I discover where I'm supposed to go next, and then while I'm driving to pick up the kids it occurs to me how to get there. I give hugs and kisses and admonish for running ahead of me, make dinner, change diapers, do bathtime, two bedtime sets of songs and cuddles, and then back to the computer and write until my eyes hurt.

I'm uncertain about my future as a writer, until I get an agent and start to figure out a direction. So I'm not writing more just yet. Maybe a little more polishing on the manuscript, because there's always more polishing to do, but that's all. If I can't get an agent with this book, then who am I to keep doing this?

Indeed.