Saturday, March 31, 2012

My Bastard Kid Turns Two

Is two years a long time?

If you've ever taught eighth grade for a few years and then picked up some sixth grade classes, two years make a difference. Eighth graders can be surly, but they know how to sit. Sixth graders think they need to be a half-inch from your face to ask you a question.

So in that case, two years is a long time.

I started my first publishable novel two years ago. It didn't feel like a long time until I read the original draft this morning.

What a steaming pile of literary shit!

Oh well. Nothing's pretty when it's first born. That's why nurses wear gloves.

Back to Jesse. Here's the latest pitch:

When Jesse lost the student council election of 1994 he decided that was the last time he'd lose anything.
Not one thing. Not ever.
He's going to get 100% completion in Super Metroid 3.
He's going to get a glorious gig for his grunge cover band.
He's finally going to get laid.
And if anybody fucks with his plans, he's going to get away with murder.

"Jesse Rules" has been through the ringer. I don't know how typical a journey this is for a novel, but here are some key milestones:

August 2010 - Complete first draft

October 2010 - Complete first revision, first attempt to sell

December 2010 - The first time I convinced someone else to believe in it. She heard about it in the author bio I wrote for my first published short story, "The Gay Bomb." She forwarded it to an agent friend. Read "The Gay Bomb" here:

January 2011 - The agent starts to try to sell it.

July 2011 - The agent stops trying to sell it. (Looking back, he was right. That draft was too raw. Still, I now have nine rejections. "The Help" had sixty, I remind myself. Different target audience, but still...)

August-October 2011 - I focus on short stories, licking my "Jesse lost his agent" wounds. Short stories are wonderful for an ego boost. "Friends and Pyromaniacs" reminds me I can write publishable stuff and I get over my bullshit. Read that story here:
November 2011 - I revise Jesse again.

December-now - My writing group provides me with a ton of valuable feedback. I notice my major weaknesses are clarity, transitioning from thought-to-thought, and establishing a more concrete set of rules for when Jesse refers to himself in the third person.

March 2012 - Feeling motivated after my third and fourth published short stories, I finally realign the fourth section in a way that resolves my anticlimactic ending issue. Jesse crosses the 80,000-word threshold. Better still, they seem like words that work together. My third published piece, "The Camp Seminole Weiner Wall", is avaiable here:
Here's where my asshole kid goes in the future:

April-June - I revise for the last time based on feedback from my writing group.

July-September - I send out query letters to any publishing house that isn't Christian or Children's. I convince just one to see how fucking awesome Jesse is.

Fall 2012 - ??? I don't know what happens after a novel is accepted. I understand it takes a long time. So...

??? 2013 - Jesse meets the world. I'm hoping to share him with you by his third birthday.

So that's where he is now. I'm convinced of my brilliance but the rest of you need to get on board with it.

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