be sure to check out Joan's latest on her website:

be sure to check out Joan's latest on her website: (usually she updates her blog every Sunday evening but she can and will surprise you) **Special Note: all of Joan's archives are now up--almost ten years of 'bitter girl.' As Joan says, go wild!**

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Struggle Continues

The eternal battle for the domination of the world goes on, as it has since the dawn of man. Today, I am not winning, for the beach has been rained out. Again.
Ah well--there's always the mall. But I hate the mall--for a variety of reasons. For one thing, when you go, for some strange reason they expect you to spend money there. The merchants and the salespeople that work there expect you to actually shop in the stores and make purchases. They have all these sales and have all these salespeople around and spend all this money on advertising and wonder what's going on when the crowds don't show up. Sad but true--I can see it on all the employees' faces in practically every store in the mall--the vacant and empty look of no customers and nothing to do, just standing around and watching the clock until finally it's your time to leave. I worked in retail for over twelve years so I know the score.
During this time, I was working on the first book, which is and always has been a mess. It needs a rewrite the same as Jimmy Carter needed pills, and trust me--he needed a lot of pills. But I couldn't see it at the time, which shows you how much I knew then.
But meanwhile, while I was waiting on responses to my queries for the first book, I started the second. Here the plot thickens, because if I hadn't started the second book, there never would have been a third. I got a better response to the second book than I did to the first, but at 40,000 words everyone kept telling me the second book was too short--that I needed at least 70,000 words for a first novel or nobody was even going to look at it.
This I did not understand at the time but I do now. At the time, though, it seemed to me they were trying to dictate a certain style--which is antithetical to my own, that being minimalism. Now I see that wasn't it at all. By imposing a minimum word length, they were eliminating the vast majority of bad or mediocre manuscripts that are circulating around out there, clogging the system, which hinders good manuscripts from being read. When I say bad or mediocre, the standard that I'm using is anyone with an agenda, such as a cause, religion or belief system that they are seeking to foster or impose on others, as opposed to the agenda of Literature, which I think should be the primary reason why you're writing--that you think you can make a contribution, that you can do a better job than the people that are doing it now. Why can I see that now when I couldn't see it then? Today I'm nine years older than I was then--so I guess my judgment is better now than it was then. Older and wiser, as the saying goes. Everyone except my agent was telling me the third book needed to be book doctored, but I disagreed. I thought everybody else was wrong and I was right. Now I see with chagrin the opposite was true. So now I've done in six months what it took me more than two years to do previously--the rewrite that the book needed all along.
What it has now that it didn't have then is the subplot and more backstory, along with some new characters. I think it looks good now--but I thought the first draft looked good when I finished with that, so I don't know if I can trust my judgment now. That's why I'm trying to solicit a reading--to see the reaction to it.
I noticed when I went to the library to see the current marketplace, that there's been an enormous amount of consolidation within literary agents. It seems as if all the one and two man shops are gone now, leaving only the strong that survive.
There's daylight outside now and my laundry is done, but there's also a canopy of cumulus clouds where blue sky ought to be, and the radar scan at the National Hurricane Center website ( shows more rain is on the way. Good news for the lawn and the trees but bad for me. Why can't it simply rain and storm at night? This and other eternal questions remain. The search for answers continues.

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