The past week has been hectic. I’ve been putting together materials for the Curtis Brown literacy agency — I’m know I’m aiming high — and it requires jumping through the odd hoop. The most difficult is the synopsis. I don’t know whether I have a mental block when it comes to writing these bloody things, but I find them surprisingly difficult. After a couple of drafts that girlfriend complained weren’t funny (i.e. they did not represent the style of the book), I had a eureka moment: write the synopsis in the style of the main character, and in the first person. I did so this afternoon and, presto, I have a fairly engaging single-page synopsis that should give a faithful impression of the tone and content of the book. That, together with my opening letter, my writer’s CV, reviews of Déjà Vu, and the first three chapters of Proper Job should be sufficient to interest any agent in the manuscript itself — but, of course, there is a number of factors over which I have little control. How marketable am I? How easy is it to pitch my book (since an agent might be doing this to a publisher)? I’ve tried to anticipate these questions in my letter — without making it too dense — but, at the end of the day, I think the writer’s primary responsibility is to produce simply the best piece of fiction he can, and I think I’m approaching this stage.
One piece of news: An acquaintance of mine, Sol Nasisi, has launched a site for writers and readers called TheNextBigWriter. Bias alert: I’m not entirely uninvolved with the site, so check out other opinions before you sign up! The site is a writing workshop in that writers submit pieces for review. However, writers can only post to the site once they’ve accumulated credits from reviewing other writers’ work. But writers are guaranteed to have their work reviewed. Works receive a score, and those works that are number one at the end of the month are passed on to ‘star reviewers’ (published authors) for a lengthy critique. One thing to note is that it costs money to join — 39USD per year — though there is a free 90-day membership for the first 100 people to sign up. Apparently, each year (in June) the best novel on the site will be awarded a 5000USD prize. There are also more frequent short story and poetry awards. Check it out if you’re interested. It looks like a good opportunity to get some constructive reviews.
A couple of blogs to mention: Nienke Hinton’s blog is called The Writing Life, and in it she describes the ups and downs of writing her novel. Good blog; I wish her luck. Eric von Rothkirch (note to self: Ian Hocking is such a dull name; I need a pseudonym!) has got a blog going in which he describes the process of story development, also in real time. They certainly look like a couple of interesting blogs. I’ll be subscribing to each to see what they get up to.
Written while listening to Oxford Town from the album “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan” by Bob Dylan