samuel x. brase likes to write

The Questions

Posted in novel planning, second novel, third project by Sam X. on 5 February 2011

There’s an interesting lecture that Philip K. Dick once gave, where he muses on the overarching questions his writing inevitably probes. These questions are “What is reality?” and “What constitutes the authentic human being?” The lecture itself devolves into a very loquacious defense of his idea that we live in the time of the Bible.

I don’t know, I skimmed that part.

But the opening third of the lecture is fascinating. I have, for many years, been a fan of PKD. He’s one of the best sci-fi writers I can think of; he doesn’t write sci-fi because spaceships are fun, he writes sci-fi to allow himself the necessary room to explore his two questions. He wants to understand the world better, like most artists; he was channeling his uncertainty about reality. Instead of channeling emotional pain through the magic of piano music, he channeled cosmic wonder into sci-fi unreality yarns.

Naturally, I thought about myself while reading this. I thought about what my questions were; what am I probing through my art? Certainly, he had more to look back on and draw parallels when he made explicit his dominant themes. Maybe doing it at this stage is premature. But I don’t think it hurts.

My writing largely has to do with rebellion; power dynamics. But those aren’t the questions I’m asking. Whereas PKD asked “What is reality?” I am asking “What is society?” The reason for this being, reality beyond human understanding is largely irrelevant to human life. I’m less concerned with reality as we don’t know it, and more concerned with reality as we create it; that is, society.

Do I have a second question? Sure. I’ve been trying to think about how to phrase it. Like Dick’s, the second question is intertwined with the first. I’m not sure I can put it exactly into words right now.

It has to do with sovereignty; with control over others, conceded by those others. The ruler is granted sovereign control over a community by election (ideally, I suppose)–but to what point does his mandate override the will of the people? As we saw in Tunisia, the will of the people outlasted the mandate of the autocrat. But in other states, for example Iran a couple of years ago and Egypt now (so Mubarak hopes), the autocrat comes out on top–by exerting the power of the state over the electorate (so-called electorate in both of those states, for reasons of election fraud).

Where does authority’s mandate end, and society’s right to revolt begin?

(Update from March 13) As Gaddafi is making clear in Libya with each passing hour, the right to revolt is only part of the issue; that draws international recognition. The other half of the issue is the ability to carry it through.

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David and His Final Decision

Posted in novel planning, second novel by Sam X. on 1 October 2010

The climax of my current novel is less in the action (though there will be action) and more in the final decision of the protagonist, to either support the status quo or resist it. For an accounting of his reasoning, I turn to analysis of Ulysses. First, Joyce.

It was revealed to me that those things are good which yet are corrupted which neither if they were supremely good nor unless they were good could be corrupted.

And now, Blamires (who wrote the Ulysses guide I am using).

‘Those things’–the Irish homeland, the Irish tradition, culture, revolution–are indeed good. It is because they are good that they can be corrupted. It is also because they are not the supremely and absolutely good that they can be corrupted. It is right to be drawn by them. It is also right to resist their attractiveness; though resistance is costly. Vocation always is.

David comes to his decision, allows concensus, and then walks away–as a final act of resistance. Much as George Washington walked away from the presidency, much as Sulla resigned his dictatorship, he will put a final plan into place and say no more; disappear into pages of history.

Government is good–but not supremely good, and can be corrupted. It is also because government is not supremely good that revolution is likewise good–but also not supremely good, and thus can be corrupted. My novel simply posits: what does a man do when both have become corrupted? What does this same man do when his memory is missing?

I felt unsure of the ending for a long time, but Joyce has convinced me it is the right–the only–thing David can do.

Time to Write

Posted in novel planning, second novel by Sam X. on 1 July 2010

The problem is that media and media sources–BBC CNN Fox MSNBC NPR Al Jazeera Politico–television newspaper blogs websites videos radio–have decentered the political discourse by exposing parallel and contradictory points seemingly at random, creating incoherent white noise.

This isn’t a bad thing. Being decentered requires a new focus on the dialogue, an attempt to become recentered.

The fragmentation of the discourse hopefully proves that there is no single narrative of the world. We are always functioning above a precipice, and any one misstep could plunge us into the chasm of a third world war.

Instead, there are multiple conversations occurring within the world discourse, being framed by the hegemonic powers like the United States, Russia, and China, and then being reframed by the states vying for importance and relevance, like Israel, Pakistan, and Kyrgyzstan.

My second novel aims to recreate this decentering. First writ large, as the character moves through an attempted revolution. The dialogue surrounding the revolution is perpetually changing, as the government first ridicules and then condemns it; as the revolution first demands change and then insists on being that change; as more people come to the cause and change it from sporadic, targeted violence to all out mayhem; and as the main character uncovers the driving factors behind the revolution.

But this isn’t enough. A handful of dichotomies would be enough for a smart protagonist to sort out in a novel. To take it a step further, the environment is also in flux. Every action sequence will be a fantastical journey through warped scenes, no wall or passageway staying in place or remaining whole.

Our main protagonist also undergoes personal decentering. By having the last few years of his memory wiped, he’s unsure of what’s true about himself. He can’t figure out which side of the revolution he stood before he lost his memory, and he can’t figure out which woman he had committed to (Theresa or Racine) before he lost his memory. There is compelling evidence for all options.

The deciding factors are the experiences he undergoes within the story. The decentering requires a new focus on the dialogue, and stripped of distractions, he can apply that focus. Through his experiences, he comes to a new decision. Not one borne of his old hang ups, but one borne of the current situation and circumstances.

Consider this the mission statement for my second novel. It’s a love letter to confused modernity, to embracing the disjointed dialogue. It’s a manual to guide you through a rapidly approaching future where technology informs and separates, divides and conquers. It’s about living with the world we’ve created, and making the most of your time here.

So, you know, it gets a little cheesy at the end.

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Response: The Value of the Recession

Posted in current affairs, novel planning by Sam X. on 26 May 2010

In regards:

  • The Big Short, Michael Lewis
  • “Faulty Basel,” by Marc Levinson. Foreign Affairs, May/June 2010.
  • “Nouriel Roubini said the bubble would burst and it did. So what next?” by Jonathon Sibun. Telegraph.co.uk, May 23, 2010.

In the US there is a lack of bipartisanship between Democrats and Republicans, in Germany Merkel has just lost the majority in her legislature, in Japan you have a weak and ineffective government, in Greece you have riots and strikes. The point is that a lot of sacrifices will have to be made in these countries but many of the governments are weak or divided. It is that political strain that markets are worried about. The view is: you can announce anything, we’ll see whether you’re going to implement it.” -Nouriel Roubini

I listened to The Big Short on audiobook the last couple of weeks, which coincided nicely with a couple of articles in the latest Foreign Affairs and the quoted interview with Nouriel Roubini, above.

I cannot speak intelligently about the subprime mortgage crisis of 2008; nor can I speak intelligently about the conditions we now live in. I know unemployment is high, I know a lot of people are broke. I was unemployed for 11 out of 12 months in 2009, but I received unemployment virtually the whole time and thus my experience was mitigated.

Since I cannot speak intelligently, I rely on reading books and articles from intelligent people (and the occasional conversation with my father). One of my desires, for my epic sci-fi series that I’m not yet ready to write, is to demonstrate economic influences within a futuristic society. It is clear to me that money is very important when it comes to shaping the world, however, most major sci-fi stories shirk its importance.

Star Wars tried to break ground in this regard with all the trade embargo talk at the beginning of The Phantom Menace, but it was far from compelling. Dune did it more successfully, as the driving force behind the story, the spice melange, was an extremely valuable commodity and sparked much of the decisions made by offworlders (it had very little impact on the Fremen, of course, but they responded to occupation, which resulted because of the spice). Much of Philip Dick’s books circumvent economics, Foundation addresses it as a inferior factor when compared to military might, and in most dystopian stories, concerns of freedom trump money, as in We, The Matrix, and Dark City.

Of course, my sci-fi knowledge is not exhaustive and I’m sure some stories do it well. I’m told George R.R. Martin incorporates it fairly successfully, and the first book in his series is on my “to read” list. But suffice it to say, economics generally takes a backseat in space epics.

Thus, my book and article reading is, in a sense, research. I am trying to understand how macroeconomic forces can shape the world, and how the world in turn shapes those forces.

Still, when I pull back, it strikes me as a great drama, one with a prelude from 2004 to 2008, the first act in 2008 to the end of 2009, and the second act beginning in 2010. Roubini, in his interview, points to many countries that are in trouble, and it is essentially the entire “First World,” from the eurozone to Japan, the UK, and the US. None of these countries are safe, only some (Germany?) are in less precarious positions.

And rising in the east is China. They have their own problems, economic and otherwise, one being shrinking freshwater supplies, and another being, obviously, it’s massive population which carries with it substantial demands of resources. How will this great economic drama affect their growth? Will they benefit, or will curtailed trade with Western countries damage their own economy?

Michael Lewis has a bleak outlook about our recent economic past, and Nouriel Roubini has a bleak outlook for our economic future. Our past is ridiculous; as Lewis points out in his book, incentives to even begin to do the right thing on Wall Street on nonexistent. That is was the bailout said. You get a bonus when things are booming, you get a bonus when you fail and your company is propped up by taxpayer money.

Our future sounds potentially terrifying. Reform is already being attacked by the Republicans. And Levinson points to a need to de-globalize, in order to lessen the future possibility of a domino crisis. Roubini points to numerous weak governments the world over that may be unable to enforce the changes that our situation demands. The problem, Roubini explains succinctly, is that from 2004-2008, a whole ton of debt was created, which was privately owned by banks and other institutions. When the debt went bad, these institutions couldn’t pay anyone or anything: From the electric bill to paychecks. So governments gave them money for the debts. And now the governments, Greece, Spain, and others, are defaulting on that debt.

Who bails out the government?

The plot is thickening. As a writer and a reader, I’m extremely excited. As a human being on this planet, I’m rather quite scared. Money doesn’t buy happiness, but it does buy security. What happens when we can’t buy our security anymore?

War?

The Second Weekend

Posted in novel planning, second novel by Sam X. on 23 March 2010

At the moment when language, as spoken and scattered words, becomes an object of know­ledge, we see it reappearing in a strictly opposite modality: a silent, cautious deposition of the word upon the whiteness of a piece of paper, where it can possess neither sound nor interlocutor, where it has nothing to say but itself, nothing to do but shine in the brightness of its being. — Michel Foucault, The Order of Things

I have sworn to myself that I will finish editing EE by March 28–this Sunday. I must finish it now because, well, I am very close to finishing it. I am excited to query agents. And ideas for novel two bubble within me, ready to leap out. I had a frantic brainstorming session last night, as various theories and plot ideas coalesced. I must finished editing EE because I am ready to move on.

Long have I wanted to write a story in the vein of The Bourne Identity, XIII, and Paycheck: a story about a man on the run, suffering from amnesia. I’m not sure why, but that set up attracts me. A lot. The problem with that kind of a story is that the character is not a character–they have no backstory. The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana deals with this kind of person, but the character isn’t on the run, he’s struggling to understand his life. Through cultural cues and familial anecdotes. Queen Loana is the story of a person being imbued with character. Bourne Identity and XIII also imbue their protagonists with character, as they study spies struggling to learn why they were almost killed. Their status as ‘spy’ is affirmed through this struggle.

Thus, the struggle is to write a story about an amnesiac, yet somehow make that character interesting for the reader, to keep them reading. Bourne and XIII are interesting because they are forceful–they are trained spies, some of the fittest and most intelligent men on the planet. They are, of course, products of their situation. A writer like myself won’t find himself with four bullets in his back, memory-less, off the coast of Italy (or will I? Story idea! Story idea!).

The character in Paycheck, Jennings, is interesting because only a couple of years have been wiped–beyond that, he has a personality. Plus he’s caught up in action, and thus story. The man in Queen Loana, Yambo, is interesting if you like Umberto Eco. Eco constructs this man through books and receipts and memories and it’s fascinating if you dig that sort of thing, but most won’t. But, like the spies and the scientist, his identity is constructed by his past profession. He was a librarian, thus he learns about himself through the books he possesses, the notes he took.

So I want to kind of merge Bourne and Paycheck; someone on the run from nefarious agencies, set in the future, not a spy. My main concern in this novel is the impact of technology on society, and thus, perhaps the obvious choice of employment for my character is that of technician. The four stories I am drawing on for inspiration construct their characters through a previously chosen profession–a profession they chose before the amnesia, when their sense of self was intact.

These characters, including mine perhaps, fly too close to the ‘truth’ and are rewarded with a memory-wipe. Thus, they have to return to the truth, fly close once again–but this time, maybe not quite as close. Or simply keep themselves safe. I will have to think on this more….

Rules on Rules

Posted in novel planning by Sam X. on 25 February 2010

I’m not sure if it’s our day and age, or what, but rules about writing have sprouted up everywhere, like springtime for Steinbeck. The Salon article that broke my silence on this issue addresses the fact that “writers have been advising other writers since at least as far back as Aristotle,” so it must be with the Internet that we decided to parse things down into neat lists of numerical rules.

I read half of the Guardian’s list of authorial rules and felt sick. Many of the rules are very good ones, and honestly I could do well to take them to heart. Some of them I already swear by–every day I see an adverb that I’d like to strike down–but some of them make me cringe. Especially (sorry about that) because half the lists have, as their rule #10, a disclaimer that rules are made to be broken and that one shouldn’t follow them over a cliff.

Perhaps this is my personality. My girlfriend can attest to the fact that I dislike writing rules; my mentor in college, if I may call her such, received her fair share of stories that just skirted within an assignment’s boundaries. A certain story about talking rabbits comes to mind.

Incidentally, her Tuesday post is a list of rules–and she was inspired by yet another list of rules. Ideas on the Internet, they proliferate. Like rabbits. Procreate. Whatever. Her rules are funny, and I appreciate that. “13. Write what you know, especially you white people out there.” Ah, yes. I can relax a little.

At this point, if I aggregated all the rules I thought useful or interesting, I’d probably have upward of 20 things I need to keep track of while I write. But a lot of these rules are for children. Read? Write? If you’re not doing those things,  you’re not a writer. Why do we even concern ourselves with that?

Rules are–rules are ridiculous. They contradict themselves. One tells us to write every day, the other tells us not to force it. It’s a cacophony of guidelines, and the guidelines are going in their own directions; anyone who followed all of these rules would find themselves suffocated.

I say the hell with lists. I’m tired of them, they’re making me neurotic, and I’m already neurotic enough. One rule is all I need, and it’s from Neil Gaiman. The rest of it can shove off.

The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it’s definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it ­honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.

Focus

Posted in novel planning by Sam X. on 25 January 2010

An opportunity has presented itself with regards to my novel, and as such, I need to edit the rough draft with all due haste. This is unfortunate, because I have a lot of things pulling me in different directions these days.

Specifically, I’ve been cultivating ideas for the sequel, and the ideas have almost reached the boiling point–I’m anxious to begin work on the manuscript. I realized that I had an opportunity to incorporate ideas I had long ago for another story, what was intended, at the time, to be a webcomic. I don’t want to give away the details, but I will say that it expands one of the primary themes: the effacement of individuality amidst the proliferation of technology. Perhaps not the most original of themes (The Matrix tackled it in its own way, for one), but I’m content that situated within the unique context I have invented, the theme breathes anew. It has certainly become only more relevant as the years wind on, with our proclivity for gadgets.

So, I’m excited for my next novel. I also want to write more short stories. The shorts that I’ve been sending out to markets for the better part of a year now are obviously going to require time in the nether before they get accepted. I desire new shorts to send out, so I can get new rejections and maybe, someday, a new acceptance.

I’m hungry to write more. Which is great, but there’s only so much time in the day, especially when one has a full-time job. And on top of that, I have a lot of things I need to do. I need to read more books, I need to play Mass Effect 2, and season six of Lost starts soon.

Why must everything converge at once?

On top of this–my sleep schedule has been awful. Last night, I was unable to sleep for a good hour. I attribute this to the fact that I basically don’t relax until I actually get into bed. And even then, it’s difficult to stop thinking. I can’t perform my real job and edit for an additional 2-3 hours every night when I’m not getting enough sleep for even the first task.

I have to be strict with myself; I have to focus. Books during lunchtime. No television beyond Lost, comedy Thursdays, and basketball. Editing comes first, every night, except when it’s a “break day”–Friday and Saturday. If it’s after nine, guess what Sam, you don’t get to play video games. You may read.

I need to focus; I have to manage my time. I want to be fully done editing the novel by March. I need to make sure I edit, that I cool down, and get enough sleep. Pretty much everything else is secondary.

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Race for the Prize

Posted in novel planning by Sam X. on 28 August 2009

The most unfortunate thing about writing a novel — at least, writing your first novel — is that I have no idea how quality is oscillating, chapter to chapter. But I suppose and hope that doesn’t matter at this point. Quality will be achieved when I spend months slowly editing the manuscript, chiseling and whittling it into a lean chunk of prose.

My novel, which is quickly becoming an actual novel (with luck and a little coffee, it’ll be 200+ pages by this time next week), started out as a meager effort to write something longer than 5000 words. I have started and abandoned many, many novels and screenplays in my short time, and when I began this project I had no reason to believe it would turn out any different. I anticipated getting through 60 pages and then moving back into shorter prose as the idea lost traction, or my energy flagged.

Those things haven’t happened this time around. Maybe months of writing have managed to prepare me for completing something of substance. Maybe I’m finally taking this seriously. All I know is that every day, every day I’m writing or every day I’m taking a break, every single day I feel a deep compulsion to continue, to continue until I am done. A deep-rooted fire to just keep plugging away on this project. At times the writing is slow and hard, and at times the writing is fast and easy. But whenever I stop writing, when I walk away for an hour or two to relax and eat dinner, a knot builds in stomach, a little voice screams in my head, “finish it!”

I suppose this is the feeling most writers feel — most writers who manage to put together a novel. Because while in the past I’ve wanted to write a novel, I’ve never felt like I need to write a novel. I feel that way every day now. A need to write this novel, and more. An inscrutable desire to let my voice be heard or at least recorded. Even if it is never published, even if I never get a publisher to buy any of my work, one day a curious great grandchild can root through my old files and pull out a dusty manuscript that says “EE, by Samuel X. Brase. (c) 2009.” And maybe my work will inspire the creative fire inside them, and they will be hell-bent to complete something of value, personal or otherwise.

Again, I repeat myself: This novel began as a meager effort to write something longer than 20 pages. After a few weeks of planning and thinking, it morphed into a pop-culture experiment: How many subtle or overt references can I shove into my work, how many sources can I pull inspiration from, and create something separate, something unique and yet tied to contemporary culture? A nineteenth century writing philosophy to focus on internal character rumination, a twentieth century approach to symbols and meaning, a twenty-first century taste for pacing and plots. So many strands adding up hopefully to a larger whole, a text that projects forward by looking backwards.

I have a lot of personal hopes for the text; I want it to work as a whole, achieving all the different facets I mentioned in the previous paragraph. I am confident in my ability to execute but realistic as to my experience. Many weeks ago, EE became my longest fiction work, and now it is blazing into the wild unknown. With a bit more than half the novel done, I know I can finish it. I do not know if it will be worth much when done, but either way I will have finished it. And I will know I can finish something of this magnitude. And I will know that if I did it once, I can do it again.

And when I do it again, my writing will almost surely be the better for this experience. The only way to get experience is to do the work. So here I am, doing the work. Logging the hours. Getting the experience. Nothing in my life has been this thrilling, this exciting, this different.

Thank you, Great Recession, for taking my job. For giving me the one resource I needed: time. For demanding I give this a real shot, a real chance, for giving me the time so I would have no excuses but my own shortcomings. So far I am proving that I am up to the task. But we’re only through five innings. We got four more to play.

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Caravan

Posted in novel planning by Sam X. on 26 July 2009
The gauntlet I threw down a few weeks ago is being met. The first third of the novel, Act I, is written in rough form, clocking in just shy of 30,000 words. Some of the writing is pretty shaky, but that’s what happens when I pound it out in 7 weeks. I’ve done some editing, but more needs to be done. Still, I’m extremely proud of what I’ve accomplished thus far; I’ve never gotten this far on a single writing project. The most exciting part is I know what it takes to write 100 pages now: doing that a couple more times and finishing this book out doesn’t daunt me in the least.
The second act is well planned, I can see finishing it by my birthday (Sept 21). My concerns lie with the third act, of which I have only a few ideas about. I have a number of action sequences imagined, but no established tension, no big reveals. My worry is that the second act is so loaded that there’s nothing left for the finale.
Let’s take a look here. I can’t spoil a ton because the plot is all I got, but…. Okay, so I broke down the major actions for the rest of the novel and there are three of them. I think my problem stems from the lack of a fourth major action; without it, one act would be very heavy in comparison to the other. I need to figure out a fourth action, probably a smaller one, like an initial skirmish between the two sides.
(Three hours later) And I’m back. I decided that instead of a contrived fourth action, I’ll simply amplify the first action beat in the second act and move some of the others around. I have a very rough (very, very, very rough) outline of the second and third acts, which I think will work better. It spreads some of the major actions from the second act into the third and elucidates on some events I hadn’t fully thought out.
Tomorrow I’m going to try and elaborate on this basic outline I have created while inebriated. If it gels, fantastic. I expect it to. There is ample room for the character development that is necessary, and ample room for exciting moments.
God this novel is going to be great.
If I can pull it off.

The gauntlet I threw down a few weeks ago is being met. The first third of the novel, Act I, is written in rough form, clocking in just shy of 30,000 words. Some of the writing is pretty shaky, but that’s what happens when I pound it out in 7 weeks. I’ve done some editing, but more needs to be done. Still, I’m extremely proud of what I’ve accomplished thus far; I’ve never gotten this far on a single writing project. The most exciting part is I know what it takes to write 100 pages now: doing that a couple more times and finishing this book out doesn’t daunt me in the least.

The second act is well planned, I can see finishing it by my birthday (Sept 21). My concerns lie with the third act, of which I have only a few ideas about. I have a number of action sequences imagined, but no established tension, no big reveals. My worry is that the second act is so loaded that there’s nothing left for the finale.

Let’s take a look here. I can’t spoil a ton because the plot is all I got, but…. Okay, so I broke down the major actions for the rest of the novel and there are three of them. I think my problem stems from the lack of a fourth major action; without it, one act would be very heavy in comparison to the other. I need to figure out a fourth action, probably a smaller one, like an initial skirmish between the two sides.

(Three hours later) And I’m back. I decided that instead of a contrived fourth action, I’ll simply amplify the first action beat in the second act and move some of the others around. I have a very rough (very, very, very rough) outline of the second and third acts, which I think will work better. It spreads some of the major actions from the second act into the third and elucidates on some events I hadn’t fully thought out.

Tomorrow I’m going to try and elaborate on this basic outline I have created while inebriated. If it gels, fantastic. I expect it to. There is ample room for the character development that is necessary, and ample room for exciting moments.

God this novel is going to be great.

If I can pull it off.

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New Plans

Posted in novel planning by Sam X. on 5 July 2009

The novella. Well, novel. I have about 60 pages and I can’t deny that the plan is for about 300 pages. That’s not a novella, that’s a novel.

We’ll call it EE for now. In brief, the idea is that five strangers meet after discovering portals from our world to another. They explore this other planet and the alien ruins contained thereon. The twist? When they’re on this alien planet, tentatively Planet X, they have been reverted to young teenagers. Oh, and — they’ll constantly be competing with a group of “lost boys” who have declared themselves the protectors of the new planet.

The reasons I decided to start a new project are many:

  1. With a clean slate, I can practice keeping the scope simple.
  2. As a result, this will be much easier to write than Doveiron.
  3. I don’t want to write Doveiron as my first novel, I want to learn from other projects.
  4. I’m tired of writing short stories for now; while the ones I’ve written flit from market to market, I will work on this.
  5. The project also allows me to put to work a number of theories I’ve been formulating about popular stories.

My idea, as it is coming together (I currently have 17,000 words), feels like a cup of cold water thrown on the face — sigh, I should probably not pitch it that way. The reader is plunged almost immediately into a new world that neither they nor our main characters understand, and the journey of discovery is shared by all.

The heart of the story is simple. I want to put friendship and rivalries under a lens, I want to romanticize exploration, I want to hook lots of people with a fun story and make them smile. Doveiron is a bit of a preachy novel, painting the dark picture of corporate ownership, impotent politics, brutality, etc. EE is about hope and dreams, candy and flowers, butterflies and perriwinkle. No, of course there’s an underbelly — every story needs a nadir — but I’m working to keep the vision narrow.

A lot of my writing is done for me and me only; if other people like it, that’s great. EE is definitely for me, but I’m also writing it with a definite audience in mind. I realize that if I want to be a professional writer, I’m going to have to understand how the writing is sold as well. Who the audience is, what the marketing could be like, plans for further books, etc. To get published, the more you know about how your story can be sold, the better your chances are. If a publisher finds my story and likes it but wants to know if there will be other books, I can tell them right now that we can sign a contract for four more books with the same characters and places.

Everything about the EE project makes me excited for its possibility. I started it about a month ago and I have a fifth of the first draft. I could have the whole draft done by the new year. By this time next summer, I could have a well-edited, slick machine of a mainstream-friendly novel. I think I will set that goal for myself. Have at least a second draft, something I can be proud of, by June 1, 2010. It’ll require a lot of continual effort, but I think the end result could be amazing. I really do. And I’d have it done before I’m 26.

Then it’ll be time to find an agent.

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