Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Inner City - Short Stories and Rhymes

If you're a career writer then you know all about rejection. I must be close to a thousand over my career. Mostly I send off a letter, a script, a story, a few opening chapters to a novel - having followed all the guidelines I could find - or all the things I'd done on those times when I was successful - and simply never heard back.

Well over 50% of my efforts have met with nothing - which is the most frustrating rejection of all. Did they get it, did they read it? Who knows. I guess most of the other rejections take this form.

              Dear Scott,
                     Thank you for allowing us to read (Insert title here). Unfortunately.....(rejection excuse here).We wish you well with the project and your future career.
                Incredibly Sincerely,
                Miggins McGee (Secretary to the personal assistant of the person you sent it to)

            After 'unfortunately'.... you can insert:  The project is not for us right now. It is not something we would be looking for. It is similar to a project we have in development. It seemed long and would take more than a few minutes to read.
                       Please feel free to create your own and message me with them!!

                Of course, I'm not arrogant to ignore the fact that some of the many rejections I've had should have read.... Unfortunately it was a piece of shit/it needs further development/it was sloppy - were you in a rush? etc etc.

                       And no doubt some were. I've had just as many bad ideas as good I think and at the time I thought the story ideas were world beaters. Often I'd spend months, once years on a project before the fog cleared and I saw it for what it was - Yuk! Someone get the shovel. I don't know what it is about people, me included, that makes us unable to see something because we get attached to it. I find sticking something away and then coming back to it after at least 6 weeks does wonders. I also have, over many years, become much better at knowing my strengths and weaknesses as a writer. For some strange reason there's a disconnect between my left and right brains. When I'm creating it's all about the story - I split infinitives all over the place.  Lose my ability to spell or even more embarrassing, spell phonetically and sometimes really simple words. When I spotted that over and over again I realised something weird was going on.

                        When I stick something in a drawer and get back to it - those things stand out so clearly - if I can stop myself getting swept back into story mode that is - for me that's a hard thing with something like a novel. So these days I am never too quick to release something - I am just not skilled enough as an editor to edit something I'm still creatively engaged with.

Anyway - Inner City was written in 1999. I had my then agent send it out. But it was a raunchier sluttier version of the book I know have. And I don't think my agent liked it because he took forever, over 6 months, to send it to anyone and then I only ever saw one rejection letter.
"I liked this book, I liked it so much I took it to bed with me. So why am I know making you an offer...."
Maybe he only showed me that letter because it came so close - who will ever know. But I remember it word for word because it seemed to come so close. Just say no for goodness sakes!

So Inner City sat around for over ten years - forgotten. I wrote another novel - It's a boy. The story of my (now ex) partner and I raising his cousin who was involved with drugs and homeless. It's both funny and sad - how can you not laugh when a kid steals a gay man's Jean Paul Gualtier Cologne - pours it down the sink and makes a bong from the bottle! It almost got the boy killed! But no-one was interested in a non-fiction account of two guys raising a troubled thirteen year old homophobic boy. Into the files with you you go!

I did discuss this story with a producer who convinced me to turn it into a screenplay. That screenplay gained development money from the NSW Film and TV Office and was a finalist in the 2009 Southern California Film festival screenplay Comp - but it's a long way from being produced.

Next I wrote a novel, The Bride Wore Cocaine. This was a tough birth and I paid $500 dollars to get it professionally reviewed. The review basically read - Yuk! I mean - it was a violent kick to the you know where. It was the worst critique of anything ever.
"This doesn't work. You begin with a murder but never solve it, you should make this a murder mystery....."
At the time I accepted the book was crap and let it be forgotten as well. I was working overseas, living in places that spoke little English and were minus 30 degrees in winter - locking me away. I wrote poems and short stories in my spare time. I drank lots of vodka to try and fit in with the locals (Do not do this! Ever. Poles and Russian are better vodka drinkers than.... Just don't - especially the women. Dangerous!)

Then I wrote a miniseries that people raved about but no-one wanted to produce because it was a period drama. It had a great director wanting to direct, a producer - it was ready to go and based on a true story. and While heads of Network drama actually rang me - OMG! - they rang to let me know it truly had been considered and unfortunately..... (See above).

But one of those TV drama people said it would make a great novel. So I began writing. And at 80 pages sent it off and so far so good. I have some interest.... enough to ask for more at least. So we will see... but it does mean I have 75% of a new novel to write.

But I also let those interested know I'd written other novels. They didn't care - didn't want to read any part. Inner City usually meets rejection with - "we are not interested in Science Fiction." I personally think there is a disconnect between the people who are most usually in the publishing business vetting manuscripts and Science Fiction. These are not fans!

It's a boy is about Gay people so it either received those wrinkles around the nose and an "Oooooh!" or "There's no market for that." Really - the pink dollar has disappeared. The group with the single biggest percentage of disposable income.... how about we tape an 'E' inside every cover?

And finally The Bride Wore Cocaine - Interest Zero. It is an evil little piece of pop culture that parties on crystal meth all night long and cheats with every little biscuit that looks in its direction. It is a very naughty novel. So no from the publishers.

But it got me thinking again about self publishing. I started by putting a novel on a blog like this one and over a thousand people have visited in just over three months. Inner City Blog Then I found Smashwords. Beautiful beautiful Smashwords. So over the past months - Since about February, I have re-edited everything and re-read it. And that critique I got for 'Bride' - it's by far the best thing I've written. The structure may drop a few people off because it's written in a parallel linear narrative four years apart. But there's a good reason for this - and I think it works. So rasberry to you critique person! And I'm looking forward to it being read by others to see what they think.

So that's the story of why and how I suddenly burst onto Smashwords. It isn't like Lizzy Ford who is writing up a storm (Check out her blog here Guerrilla Wordfare if you want to see a determined kick arse approach to getting yourself noticed and accepted as a working writer. wow! I took notes from her approach!)

I am simply polishing and uploading the last ten years of my writing life. All done in isolation. Read before smashwords by about 3 people and now over night being read by thousands!  I will eventually put a price on some of it (Never the rhymes - they're just silly doodles!!!) - but If I can get to 10,000 or so downloads with something - then I feel $1.99 wouldn't be asking too much.

So I hope people like what they're reading. The poems I figured - what the hell. Some were written in Poland, Russia, London, Indonesia, Paris and some back home in Oz. But what good are they sitting never read by anyone.... that's why even they got bundled up and put online to be read. There were a dozen or so more, but those were either too private(embarrassing) or too emo(Embarrassing) to be read by anyone but me. LOL

And happy Queens Birthday to everyone! Nothing but respects Lizzy!

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