Idealistic or Imaginative?

I’ve heard that I’m too idealistic.  I get something in my head, some perfect image, and that’s the way I want things to be.  For example, one of my favorite movies of all time is “Roman Holiday”, so naturally when I visited Rome I wanted to meet a gorgeous American journalist and see all of the sights from a small scooter and end up dancing on a barge at midnight.  Of course I didn’t really expect this to happen, but what’s wrong with my romanticized version?  (I did hit all of the “Roman Holiday” sights except for the Mouth of Truth.  One day I shall return!).  In Paris, I wanted to stroll down the Champs de Elysee with a fresh croissant.  (I actually did that one, however, I did not get to accomplish my other goal and visit Jim Morrison’s grave).  In Dublin, I imagined dancing a jig in a traditional pub to Irish folk music until the wee hours of the mornin’ (I did that too).  I would love to visit St. Petersburg and take the train (I have no desire to jump in front of it), and walk through the rain in London (preferably while singing something from “My Fair Lady”).  If (when) I visit Scotland, I will not leave without a trip to the Highlands to look for Nessie (eight-year old me would never speak to me again if I didn’t).

These aren’t unrealistic goals, right?  Until I visit these places, what I know of them comes from the books and movies that I love.  Literature especially gets ingrained in my head. I guess because I have to supply the imagery for myself, which makes me want to visit the real places and see how they match up.  Sometimes, the picture in my head is dead on, like in the Irish pub.  Other times, I’m way off.  I remember reading about Dublin Castle and imagined a large stone structure with turrets and a drawbridge.  In reality, my husband and I walked past it several times before we realized the large house/museum looking area was the “castle”.  We did find one wall/turret that resembled the castle from my imagination and took all of our pictures there.  Then we took a train to Malahide Castle, which was much more suitable, complete with an iron barred portico and sprawling gardens.

There are some places so wrapped in my imagination with the imagery from books and movies that I don’t know how I would untangle them.  So what of it if I build up something in my imagination and then set off to make it happen?  My dreams aren’t so big, they’re simple things like munching a flaky pastry in Paris.  I always like to get a feel for local life and culture on my travels as well, can’t I balance the two?  I found this article on the Top 10 Literary Cities (so far I’ve only been to #2 and #4) that tells you the places to go in these literary wonderlands to fulfill your bookish desires. Places like writers museums and reading rooms.  (Take my advice and steer clear of Bram Stoker’s Dracula Experience in Dublin, though.  It wasn’t the cool, scary, haunting time I thought it would be.  It’s an arcade and “haunted funhouse” on the outskirts, i.e. a shady area, of Dublin.  It sucked, pun unintended, and wasn’t at all scary.  I dare say that Bram Stoker would send his blood-sucking monster to drain all those responsible for the travesty.)

For me, part of my idealism comes from wanting to step into the writers’ shoes.  I want to feel what they felt when they wrote something.  The smells, the click of my heels on the cobblestone streets, the sounds, the light drizzle of rain in my hair.  It brings me a step closer to the worlds I love so much.  Idealistic?  Maybe.  Imaginative?  Very.  And I’m okay with both.

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Why Blog?

The question that may be rolling around in your heads is: why start a blog?  I’m not exactly the blogging type.  I tried once before, I started a blog about Oswald Chambers “My Utmost for His Highest,” my thoughts as I worked through the daily devotional.  Let’s just say, that didn’t last as long as I’d hoped.  I think I put too much pressure on myself to post daily when really, I didn’t have something to say every day about every devotional.

I don’t feel as much pressure with this blog.  I’m not going to attempt to post daily, and might, in fact, post a couple of times a day and then not put up anything new for a few.  I debated starting one for a while, but here is what convinced me to jump in the pool: Jenny Bent- Social Media. This is a great blog post by literary agent Jenny Bent on the values of social media such as facebook, twitter, and, you guessed it, blogs. Now, I can’t quite bring myself to start a twitter. Maybe one day if I get published and people actually care what I’m doing at any given point in the day. Right now though, this will suffice.

I blog with several hopes in mind: 1. that people will follow me; 2. that other aspiring authors might be able to share in my journey and post comments, etc about their own; 3. that other writers might find the sites and blogs I’ve linked useful and inform me of other useful places; 4. that I can get and grow a fanbase. This last reason is, admittedly, selfish, but, according to Jenny Bent, it’s something agents and publishers look for. They want to know if you have people who already like your work.

So that’s why I started this thing. If you blog, why did you start?

And Away We Go…

I am currently querying my most recent book, “Playing with Fire.”  I submitted my first round of queries on Saturday, September 17.  This in an of itself was a chore.  Figuring out which agencies to submit to, then which agents, then their submission guidelines…whew!  Here is a run down of my process:

1.  Search AgentQuery for AAR member agents who represent Young Adult fiction.

2.  Plug the results (80 agents!  Sounds like a lot, but the starting number was around 248.) into a spreadsheet.  Arrange alphabetically.

3.  Search Preditors and Editors for the agent/agency.

4.  Group agents in spreadsheet according to P&E results

5.  Search submission guidelines, email addresses, etc for each agent.  Plug these into my spreadsheet.

6.  Email first twelve agents my query, adding the date queried in my spreadsheet.

I could add a step 7. “Realize I sent only a query to three agents who requested the first few pages and fret about whether they would accept my submission”, but I’m not planning on making this a typical blunder.  Of course prior to step one came the repeated tweaking of my query until I got it in somewhat decent shape.

Now I wait.  I’m extremely grateful to the agents who have already responded, and grateful to every agent out there plugging away reading the queries of the countless writers begging for their work to be accepted.  For each response I receive, I dutifully enter it into my spreadsheet with the date, and email them a polite message back.  After a few weeks I’ll move down the list and query the next batch. 

In the meantime, I shall focus on the dreaded synopsis and on my new work in progress.  After I finished “Playing with Fire” (2 full drafts with beta readers on each and a final polish), I felt empty.  There was a void inside me.  An empty feeling that must be close to a parent sending their child off to college.  My baby is all grown up and out on its own now. 

So what am I to do?  Start a new one of course.  I’m pretty excited about it, but nervous as well.  It’s an idea my dad came up with while he was battling cancer.  One I’ve been putting off because I’m afraid I won’t do it justice.  I wrote the first chapter yesterday, though, and posted it on the Absolute Writer’s forum for thoughts.  I must say, I’m pretty happy with the feedback I received.  Happy enough to keep pushing forward.  Hopefully, it will keep my mind occupied while I wait for agents to respond.

Currently reading: “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” by Ken Kesey.