Sunday, January 25, 2009

Dusting Off Dreams

So, in doing some research and general steeping myself into the culture of my next book series (which takes place in a fictitious theme park), I've been reading Walt Disney's relatively new 800 page biography--and getting REALLY motivated. Like, really.

Alas, this motivation has very little to do with writing books. I'm starting to hearken back to my original dream that brought me down the path to being a writer in the first place: animation/theme park design. A couple years into my college career I got really into the notion that I wanted to start my own animation studio, which would eventually lead me to opening my very own theme park. I bought a bunch of books on animation and imagineering, and designed several rides and a cartoon character for each land in the park, six in all. I was very into it. Only problem is, I can't draw. At all. Seriously.

But then another idea for a story popped into my head that I liked a lot, too, and that idea transformed itself into my first novel, which I just finished. Writing was great because I didn't have to find some awesome artist to animate my ideas and bring them to life; I just needed a notebook and a computer, and my ambition.

But in reading about Walt and all his struggles and successes, and the fabulous story that is his life, I'm wanting to get going on that almost-forgotten dream of mine. I love teamwork, and all the comraderie and group effort that goes into something like an animated film or designing a ride is what I'm really looking for in my creative outlets. I'm seriously ready to pack up right now, move back to LA and start my own animation studio.

Too bad I have a car payment weighing me down (although Walt did sell his car to pay for the second take of recording the audio for the first Mickey cartoon...history repeating itself, perhaps? Or so I'd like to tell myself.) and the general concern for eating food and surviving. What's an ambitious young man to do?

I'm thinkin' I need to find me a good animator, that's what. Or maybe publish a book or two first, get some clout in the creative field. Who knows, but my hope is that some of this pent-up motivational energy will at least spread to all of you who read this, and you'll each go crank out like five novels in four hours. Because that's how excited I get when I start talking about this stuff.

Now get crankin'!

Monday, January 19, 2009

New Year, New Start (Old Cliche)

I've been bad about writing lately.  After furiously writing to finish my book by Big Sur and to submit my partial, I got kinda burnt out.  I don't think I've written anything since the beginning of December, actually.  I could blame it on the fact that I'm still waiting to hear back from my partial, and I don't want to make any major changes until I hear something.  I could, but the truth is that I've just been lazy.  Ski season started, and I began to enjoy relaxing in my free time (who does that?), and I've hardly even thought of my book lately.  And I must admit, it's been kinda nice.  But it's not me.

Time to kick it back into gear.  Nine was always my number in sports, so '09 is gonna be my year, right?  I've never been one for new years' resolutions, but this fresh year is staring me in the face, and there's this new project I'm starting to get excited about and do some research for, and I'm getting motivated again!  Plus, this new project is a little simpler (for now) and light-hearted (and shorter), so it should be lots of fun to work on.  And I guess I could get a couple other queries ready, just in case, yeah?

Anyone else using the new year to start something exciting?

Saturday, January 3, 2009

My Big Sur Rollercoaster Ride (Part Two)

First off, Happy New Year everyone! Hope it's been a great one so far. Everyone get a chance to read Part One? Good.

So, where was I? Ah yes, dinner on Saturday night. Well, I ended up sitting at the same table as the aforementioned Editor again (I swear I wasn't stalking him; on Saturday night he actually approached ME as we were walking into the banquet room). We had another great dinner, and when I started talking with the people next to me about what I write, The Editor piped in from a couple seats down and said, "and he writes it very well." Well how about that? That little comment from him gave me the confidence to eventually ask the ultimate question. I'll get to that in a bit.

As dinner wore on, the subject of Agent MS, who I've submitted a partial to, came up, and The Editor mentioned that he was good friends with him. More good news, right? After hearing that, a little seed planted itself in my mind about how I might maximize the potential of the weekend. But it was a seed that would only blossom if watered with some courage.

After dinner, there was a fantastic Q & A with all of the editors that were in attendance. They talked about publishing/submitting in general, the absolute necessity of an agent, and the state of the children's book industry in this economy. Good news, folks: while every other division of the publishing industry might be hurting horribly, the children's sector is perfectly fine. They said that history has shown that children's books have never suffered too harshly, even in a recession/depression, because children always need to read. So the editors are all absolutely still acquiring, and the agents are all absolutely still looking for new authors.

Okay, back to my little seed. Let me preface this with why I was slightly nervous: When we were in our second critique group with The Editor, one of the members asked that if we worked REALLY hard and revised our work, could we maybe submit to him? He answered with a flat, "Absolutely not," that was sorta joking-but-serious, then said bye and walked out of the room without another word. I talked to him later about that and he felt kinda bad about it, but I actually thought it was quite hilarious. But you can see that he's not afraid to say no, and how that might make me nervous. Now, while sitting at dinner, I thought what better way to give my book a little nudge towards success than a couple approving words from a major editor. So after a couple quick self-pep talks, I approached The Editor and said, "I was wondering, and feel free to say absolutely not, but if I could maybe get your stamp of approval to send a quick update email to Agent MS saying that you enjoyed my material."

He replied instantly with an, "Absolutely! Tell him I enjoyed it and am interested in it, and you can tell him that I told you to say it."

So there you have it; I obviously got on the computer right away and emailed Agent MS with the update. I still haven't heard back from him, but I know he's very busy and I've gotten used to waiting. But NOW, even if I do get a rejection this time, I'll be able to include in my query that The Editor has expressed interest in my manuscript. Talk about your Ace in the Hole for getting something read.

The next day we had our final critique group. At that point my weekend had been made and I didn't really care how this one went, but it actually went really well, and added a very nice little extra positive spin to coast into that final section of the insane rollercoaster that was my Big Sur Weekend. It sure made the next week in Disney World a lot sweeter.

(P.S., Sorry it took so long for Part Two; I've been in Colorado since the day after Christmas without access to a computer. Sheesh, I feel like I'm always apologizing for taking too long to post things; maybe I need to be more disciplined.)