Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Perfection

There's no such thing as perfection.

Do you think the first thing Hemingway wrote and published was perfect?

Do you think everything Leonardo da Vinci did was perfect?

Do you think Picasso didn't draw and sell crap?

Do you think you can get to the moon without first escaping many "failures" first?

Do you not find it amazing that Thomas Edison "failed" over 2000 times before he invented the light bulb?

There's a lot to say about "finishing something" and "sending it off." The rest is NOT up to you.

Writing is an on-going process. Once you're done with a piece, let it go. Send it out. Do whatever YOU can do to make it a success. But if it doesn't (and a lot is out of your control), forget it. Move on to something else. Writing is a "life," not a "moment."

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

A Flash story

Someone posted a prompt on Absolute Write, so here's my take on it:

Write a flash fiction in less than 100 words that makes the reader feel something: happiness, sadness, fear, surprise, etc. Use the prompt as the first sentence.


     One light shone in the otherwise empty room.
     Then I saw you. My sister, in your white pajamas, your face gaunt and pale. I let out a breath as you turned to me and smiled. You knew. Tommy Sutton had been executed an hour before for his crime. You knew.
     "I gotta go, Danny," you said. You smiled one more time before disappearing with the light.
     I didn't forget. "Happy Birthday," I yelled, my words swallowed by the dark space.
     The following day would have been your seventh birthday. I just wanted you to know, that I loved you.


Monday, December 13, 2004

Pet Peeves in Novels Somebody Else wrote...

2 pages of info dump, mid-scene, about the history of the Louvre.

Cardboard characters that bore me to death.

Predictable and cliche plot twists -- like, yeah, the girl has a terminal illness... I can smell that from 150 pages away...

Sudden "and then he dies" plot twists that come from the left field and serve no purpose other than make you cry.

Unbelievable situations -- sure the guy can drop 2000 feet from the sky and not a scratch on his body...

Sex scenes that are not sexy or overly metaphorical... Ee put what where?

Incessant mumbling with internal dialogue...

Sci-fi with inplausable science.

Turning Off the Internal Editor

One thing that helps me (and trust me, my internal editor SCREAMS with a vengence) is that whenever he screams, I'll put a note in the draft that says something like: "Yeah, yeah, the protagonist won't say something like that... fix in next draft" -- it helps me achieve the following:

1) move on!!!!!
2) acknowledge Mr. Editor so he doesn't get all pissy
3) remind myself what to change and where
4) allow the writer in me make the changes as I move on (plot shifts, new character development, etc.)

Show vs. Tell

He glanced at the ceiling and paused, as if wondering if he could trust her.


I tend to dislike this kind of narrative inference from the POV character. It's by no means "wrong"; it's just not my preference. To me, it's as if the author doesn't trust herself (that she couldn't make it apparent simply by action or dialogue) or the readers (that they couldn't figure it out), and that she's taking the experience away from the readers. I dislike it when the author tries to explain everything, for fear that the readers won't "get it."

Think about the movies. When an actor emotes and makes an expression ("glanced at the ceiling and paused"), you don't hear a V.O. saying "he didn't trust her." The scene, action, dialogue, etc. are supposed to convey that. The typical "show vs. tell" issue here. I'd rather see this ("she" is the POV character):

He glanced at the ceiling and paused.
"It's not about trust," she said, chiding him. He glanced away and cleared his throat.

Saturday, December 4, 2004

Wisdom (or lack of) on Rejections

I keep two folders on my PC for queries. One for queries/submissions and one for rejections. When a rejection comes in, I move the query/submission file over to the "rejected" folder. The file already has everything I need -- publication/agent, date, ms title, etc. etc.

If I want, I could rename the file to include a brief note, such as AgentXYZ-[date]-welcome-future-submission.doc. I don't really look at the rejected folder, least of all count how many files are in the folder. I simply move the files there and call it done. I only focus on the files in the "query/submission" folder.

But coming back to how counting rejections is relevant to writing... I keep hearing writers talking about how they keep their rejection letters, and they count 242 or 3001 of them, etc. etc. And I ask myself: WHY? Didn't you learn something from them already? Or are you going to go back some time later, re-read them and say, wow, now I can learn something from this rejection?

I don't keep rejection letters. I used to, when I first started out, but not anymore. Now, I toss them away immediately. I do, however, put a mark on my list --"rejected" and perhaps another mark if the agent/publisher is receptive, personable, etc. or is open for future submission -- that means they are still a prospect, just not for THIS product (see above on putting them in PC folders). Then I move on.

I don't "count" them.

All I need is one success call. I don't really care if I had 100, 200, or 1000 rejections already. I don't count them.

I think that's the difference between real sales and selling your ms. In sales, you want repeat sales. You want to fill your quota. In writing, however, you only need to make ONE sale. So the mentality is slightly different here.

Here's another design for my book cover.

This is one design for my book cover.

A Rant

"What about the good, the talented and the truly deserving? Some make it. But in this society, too often, they're left hung out to dry."
-Emil Guillermo, radio and TV commentator and the author of "Amok: Essays From an Asian American Perspective," winner of an American Book Award.


In Emil Guillermo's commentary, he blasted the William Hung's phenomenon as feeding the racist stereotype of Asian men.

It's ironic that he used "hung" in the closing as a punchline, don't you think? By the way, William's last name is pronounced "H-own" (like "own" with an "h") and not "hung."

I think they're overreacting. If I'm not mistaken, it's the Asians who really pushed William to stardom... every website, etc. I see was built by Asian fans, girls in particular. So are we saying that Asians themselves are racist against themselves?

Could be.

Of course William is a mockery -- bad hair, bad teeth, bad clothes, bad talent with a GREAT personality. That's his draw, not because he is Asian and sings badly. There are many other bad, not-very-good-looking Asian singers on that show -- we've seen them on TV -- but none went through the roof like William. Care to explain why?

So what if Hollywood is not fair. What's new? And it's funny to hear his "testimonies" from Asian actors (and mostly males) themselves... can I say sour grapes?

Can I say sour grapes again?

It's not to say I'm immune to all this. I, too, felt a little jealous, but at the same time, I am happy for William. My time will come, in any media (books for the moment). I'm not delusional to think that I will be "the first Asian-American to win an Academy Award Best Actor in a US film" -- what a bunch of ego crap. It seems like only those "aspiring" actors/singers have problems with this phenomenon. And to fear that William Hung will become the archetype of Asian actors is just bullshit. Hollywood is not stupid. Sure, they're still looking for the next Jackie Chan or Samuel Hung, but don't blame it on William.

William's popularity is all about his attitude, his sincerity and his smile. Hollywood is about image, and I'm not talking about the image of an Asian Buckwheat. I am talking about the image of a self-effacing, good-natured, totally unpretentious guy who is just happy. And his happiness is infectious. I sure hope that fame and fortune do not corrupt him, but for now, I think he is the real thing. Who cares if he can't sing? How many pop/rock stars can really sing these days? And how many of them are fake products of pop culture?

At least William seems genuine.

Peace.