Mark Terry

Monday, February 18, 2008

I Seem To Have A Problem

February 18, 2008

I haven't been really writing fiction lately. I'm "between contracts," you might say, and I've got one completed manuscript, Hot Money, that is gathering dust with at least one movie producer, and my agent seems to be waiting for something--more dust, perhaps--before she gets around to marketing it. She's explained her rationale to me, but I'm not entirely sure I understand it. Or buy it, which is, I suppose two different things.

Meanwhile, I've got a couple partial novels in various states of incompletion, as well as a short story I'm sorta writing.

I haven't done this in years and years. That is to say, I almost always, for years and years, have been actively working on some fiction.

Partly, over the last couple weeks, I was working on an outline for a business report and most of my energies were going into that while still trying to work on some other materials for clients. And I was trying to work on one of two novel manuscripts, although CHINA FIRE wasn't going anywhere, it was just being tinkered with. The YA novel I was working on was moving along slowly, and although my oldest son wants me to continue, his enthusiasm for the manuscript has been a bit tepid, which doesn't bode well for this particular project.

The short story is moving along bit by bit, although I have no clue how to wrap it up.

All this fiction malaise isn't a big shock. I've been hit by one bit of bad news after another concerning my fiction over the last 3 months--even got a novel rejected by an editor who asked to read the manuscript in January 2007! (Only took him 13 months, gee, why would I be frustrated by this state of the industry?). Although I don't think I'm done writing fiction, it may very well be a good time to take a break, step back, think, let the well fill up.

It's not a bad time to focus on making money on my nonfiction career.

It's not a bad time to reassess my priorities and decide what the hell is going on with my writing life or my life in general.

Or, I'll get enthused again this afternoon and start churning away.

Hard to tell.

Mark Terry


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I'm sorry to hear about the fiction problems but maybe it is good to take a break,regroup, recharge, shake off all the bad stuff so you can get enthused again. I hope so, because that's what I've been doing. I have essentially written no fiction for more than a year. OK. We did a short story for an anthology and wrote a couple additional chapters for the novel we'd written earlier. Basically I have just been trying to decide what to do next, if anything. Mind you, I have always been writing but until the last few years it was seldom fiction. One thing I know, as far as books are concerned -- considering the compensation involved I am damn well not going to write anything I don't really want to write.

11:00 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

That may be the key, I suppose. And part of the problem. I'm sort of having the same problem with books I read, too. I'm enjoying them, but nothing's really dazzling me, so it might be time to grab something I've never read before, or read some nonfiction or go back and read some classics I never got around to reading.

I'm writing all the time, too, but not much fiction, and this weekend, when I seemingly had the time to, I just couldn't get interested in doing it. And that's unusual.

11:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm trying to read more myself. I did read Crime and Punishment last month but aside from that I've been reading Simenon, Moorcock, M.R. James, Lovecraft. And just reading for enjoyment, rather than reading to see what's being published and that sort of thing.

2:25 PM  
Blogger spyscribbler said...

You know, I've been seeing a theme of beach and lounge chair pictures with your blog posts. Is your subconscious trying to tell you something?

It's easier to get through the lulls when there's a dollar sign at the end of the stick. But that might just be me, LOL. I write TONS slower when there's nothing at the end of the stick.

When I get like this, I go to three or four good movies in a day. I don't know why, but it gets me all excited about fiction and story again.

I'm also pretty practical-minded about writing. I've been try to dream more. Not sure it helps. I'm not much of a dreamer.

3:00 PM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

--definite theme. And I would be the second to admit (my wife being the first one to point the accusing finger on this one) that I suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder and it's freakin' February in Michigan. Today was my kids' sixth snow day this year, this time for ice, because on Sunday the temperature went up to 40 degrees and rained on top of about 8 inches of snow, then froze. I tried to talk Frodo today and gave up halfway down the street for fear I was going to break my neck.

I would looooooove to be on a sunny beach somewhere.

(and yeah, I did some work on China Fire today and maybe my problem is I just need to focus on one fiction work at a time)

3:06 PM  
Blogger spyscribbler said...

Oh, YAY for China Fire!

3:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now, you see spyscribbler encourages you. She's positive. Me, I go on the theory that misery loves company.

5:28 PM  
Blogger Erica Orloff said...

Hi Mark:
I feel in a rut at times, too. I agreed to a contract in Auguist. It took MONTHS for the contracts to be drawn up, and I am STILL waiting for my advance. How can writers earn a living??? ARGH!

It's by writing a lot of stuff, nonfcition, fiction, across publishers sometimes, and genres, or having that "big hit." Either way . . . it can be discouraging. Hang in there!

5:57 AM  
Blogger Josephine Damian said...

Yoohoo! Mark! Opportunity knocks. Looks like your rut is over! And perhaps you might want to consider changing agents?

6:44 AM  
Anonymous Andy Peters said...

How familiar are you with the YA genre (Harry Potter doesn't count)? What were the last five YA books you read (Harry Potter doesn't count)? Depending on the specific teen audience you think your book would appeal to, you'll find the expectations run the gamut.

And nothing against your son but remember that his is ONE opinion. The same manuscript in the hands of another reader might be seen as amazing and un-put-downable. If it's an issue of gauging what keeps him interested, check out what your son is reading. What do you think there is about it that appeals to him? Or just ask him flat out: "What's it missing?" One tepid reaction isn't cause for abandoning the project. So the first draft gets a tepid response. Get feedback and have another go with the second draft.

I say all this not knowing how many drafts you've already done, whether you're an expert in YA lit, if you've already devoured everything on your son's bookshelf, or whether this somewhat defeatist post was a momentary fit of despair and my attempts at encouragement are fruitless because you've already snapped out of it.

Listen to your son: keep going. Get it written. Then fix it.

10:53 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

The last 5 YA novels I've written (aside from two of the Harry Potter novels) are:

Scorpia by Anthony Horowitz

Eagle Strike by Anthony Horowitz

Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy

Percy Jackson and The Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan

Point Blank by Anthony Horowitz

I'm not a huge reader of YA, but I do read some. I wrote one novel that was well-received but not picked up by major publishers, tho I'm still marketing it to smaller publishers.

I wanted to try again and I probably still will. I'm not sure I've abandoned it, but I felt stuck early on. And I also keep in my mind that my son likes books that are filled--to the brim--with action and that The Fortress of Diamonds has a lot of action, but it's also built on a lot of puzzles and clues ala National Treasure, AND it has a 16-year-old girl as a main character, which is less interesting to him than if it was a boy (when I mentioned maybe it should be a boy he was more enthusiastic, but I like the main character/narrator as she is).

1:15 PM  
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