Nothing's been written on Daughter of Hounds since September 17th, which would be wholly unforgivable, except for the fact that almost all my energy these past three weeks has gone into one of the Secret Projects. Writing pitches, proposals, revising, revising revisions, revising the revised revisions. And then waiting on comments from editors so I can do it all over again. It is not secret that I'm not a wiz with proposals. Worse, I absolutely suck at waiting. And much of the last week has been spent waiting, and I allowed it to lock me up completely. I lost a few days entirely. However, I can say now that this particular Secret Project is coming along very well, and I've allowed myself to breathe a small sigh of relief. I still can't say what it is, who the publisher is, but probably soon. You'll know as soon as I do (or very soon thereafter). It's a very cool thing. I will say that. Feel free to guess. I won't hold it against you. I hate keeping secrets almost as much as I hate waiting and writing proposals.
Much of the stress has arisen from the difficulty I have with this whole "high concept" thing. And, finding myself very much frustrated and baffled at my trouble with such a seemingly simple task, and with the fact that different editors, agents, directors, etc. can mean very different things by "high concept," I sat about trying to understand why I've always had so much trouble with it. And I hit upon this quote, which says it quite perfectly:
Story ideas, treatments and screenplays can all have High Concept premises. But only High Concept projects can be sold from a pitch because they are pitch driven. Non-High Concept projects can’t be sold from a pitch because they are execution driven. They have to be read to be appreciated and their appeal isn’t obvious by merely running a logline past someone. This is the reason why films like Pulp Fiction, Star Wars, and Sideways could never be sold from a pitch.
That's from an article by Steve Kaire on Writer's Store., which seeks to define, once and for all, what people mean when they say "high concept." Anyway, this is my problem precisely. My books, my stories, unfold as I write them. This has always been true. I rarely do outlines and synopses unless I have no other choice. I can't tell you a character's motivation one-third of the way through the story until I've written one-third of the story, because I simply don't know. I can't boil the stories down into tidy one liners that would look good on a movie poster or a book jacket. Anyone who has read my novels should see that this is true. My novels are intricate things that arise from execution, from the organic act of writing, and that's really the only way I know to do it and stay sane. And yet, I've spent much of the past month doing little else but perfecting "high concepts" and writing proposals. Because them's the rules, and if I want to play (and I do), sometimes I have to stop being such a frelling prima donna and mind the rules. I have to grit my teeth, pop a few bottles of antacid, sweat, bitch, shout, scream, moan, construct elaborate and brilliant tirades against reductive thinking, throw things at the wall...and then sit down and write the "high concept." Because that's the way it is. Period.
Er..so, anyway. I'm back.
People who preordered To Charles Fort, With Love should be getting the book right about now (or very soon). And if you you haven't ordered and intend to, you probably should. The limited edition is already sold out.
Also, there was a very, very belated, but rather pleasing review of Murder of Angels at HorrorReader.com, which I ran across last Friday. You can read it here.
I have more work to do in October and November than any three writers could do.
An oddly momentous thing today. My first online account was with AOL, an account I've maintained (mostly out of laziness and habit) since 1994. Today, I'm deactivating the account, after more than eleven years. And it's nothing at all, but it still feels a little strange and slightly sad. Farewell, email@example.com.
I figure I'm gonna need a number of extra posts to get caught up, so bear with me...