June 2006 Archives
Fan of Get Your War On? I am. Mary and I saw David Rees some years ago when he spoke in Portland, at Powell's. He signed our first-edition GYWO books, and later I bought some limited edition prints. I still need to get those framed. Anyway, I almost died, his deadpan comic presentation was so funny. The fact that he had intelligent politics to back up the whole thing only made it better. David Rees, I am likely your biggest fan (call me!). There is now a video of a similar talk at Columbia. Enjoy.
Several people have asked me lately about the book, so I guess it's time to start blogging about it. I have avoided this for a long time, for fear that if the book is not published, I will be an obvious victim of Blogosis (best explained: just because it happened to you doesn't make it interesting). It's a fear of failure, which is sort of lame by definition, so here goes.
For the two of you who haven't talked to me about it, I've been working on a Young Adult novel called HI FROM COLLEGE for some time now. I actually started a second YA book, tentatively entitled THE MURDER GAME (which has nothing to do with actual murder) in April, and that has been going pretty well -- I'm at 80 pages of first draft now. They're different, but follow the same narrator at different points in his late adolescence. HFC is about the first year at college, and starts the summer before college at FSU in 1996. TMG rewinds two years to show the summer of 1994, when the narrator is sixteen and at smart-kid camp (shout out to John Green's AN ABUNDANCE OF KATHERINES for the succinct naming of said camp).
I started on HFC in 1998 as a therapy exercise. I was in talk therapy at FSU, and found myself telling some stories that seemed to have value outside of the room. I think I started with the Sandy Shores material (which actually occurred during my first summer -- between first and second semesters at school), then moved on to telling the story of my first semester. Those of you who have read the recent drafts should be familiar with this; if you haven't read a draft, email me and I'll send you something soon. I am running low on first-time readers, though, so am hoarding them for after this next revision.
Anyway, so HFC became a series of short stories over about nine months of work, back in the Nineties. I spent the winter after school (1999-2000) working on it (among other things, like Robofilms.com) in an attic in West Virginia. I ended up with a pretty complete (but out-of-order) draft, which I proceeded to put on the shelf and stop working on for five years.
In 2005, a friend-of-a-friend asked to read it, and I sent it to him. After he read it, he sent it on to his editor at a real live publisher. Since that time, I've been working loosely with this editor on revisions to the manuscript. I feel really privileged to be working with real people in the real industry on this, and I work hard to bring the quality of the work to that level.
I spent a good eight months or so (2005-2006) working on a complete revision of the manuscript, primarily making it linear, but also expanding several major story lines, and fixing a bunch of broken or incomplete plots. It became a completely linear book, with a beginning, middle, and end. Prior to this, it was totally out of order -- and not in a good way. It was just kind of chopped up.
While I was waiting for feedback on this revision, I first took a month off, then began working on my second book, the aforementioned THE MURDER GAME. I'll post some samples when I'm closer to a first draft. Basically it's smart-kid camp in high school. There is a single, strong love interest in this story (markedly different from HFC in this regard) who is based on a great friend of mine, a great poet. You'll hear more about her and the story in due time. There's lots there, I'm just telling you now.
Last week, I went to New York for work -- my cool job, which I shall not link for fear of getting Googled inappropriately, but anyway -- to consult with potential clients. While I was there, I met with the aforementioned editor for the first time -- previous contact was just over email. I got a bunch of feedback about where to take the next revision. The gist of it was that it's now WAY TOO LINEAR, and I have lost the sense of reader bewilderment that was good in the original draft. In the original draft, the out-of-order bits had an effect of confusing the reader, and in a way that was a really positive effect. I need to reproduce that feeling, without re-chopping the story (well -- let's say I want to keep the good things about the new draft, but I need to add back this other thing; I can't just go back to the original draft, since so much is better now). So I have a plan, and am working to edit the whole thing to bring back more of the crazy and reduce the passages of explanation that make it too comfortable and "normal."
If any of my dear blog readers have more questions about the book(s), please post them or email me, or invite me to Club 21 for a drink. I have a lot to say about this stuff.