Monday, November 13, 2006

Sometimes, It’s Nice To Be Nobody

I’ve been through a lot of things over the past year, and for the most part it’s all seemed pretty surreal.

Until now.

I have my galley copy to do the final edits on. I’m actually seeing how the book will look in the hardcover version coming out in 55 days and it’s amazing.

In a way, it’s a good thing not to visualize beforehand, I think. I never would have conceived the format TICO had in mind and I’m impressed. (Rob, the acknowledgements are at the end. Just to make you happy.)

I know that I’ve told a few people over the past few months that this is the new reality, life is never going back to what it was before (the deal) but I’m still grasping that. I have been so busy lately, and just when I think I’m starting to clear the schedule, more stuff comes at me.

I will say this, though. As much as becoming an author is important and special, it’s essential to have things outside that to give you some balance. I might be very busy with Spinetingler at times (like right now, editing the Spring Issue and formatting the Winter) but it makes me stop thinking about the book, about my writing, about myself, and gives me something constructive to do that means a lot to other writers. That’s good.

Speaking of other authors, my friend John McFetridge has started a blog. If you haven’t read Dirty Sweet I can tell you (pssst, don’t tell John, wouldn’t want to embarrass him) that it’s on my top 10 list of best reads of the year. I don’t actually know if I’ll go public with my top 10 list this year, but I can’t wait for book 2 from John. Although I’m not going anywhere near the Brazilian wax discussion.

Getting back to life outside of being an author, here’s the thing. My book will come out. It won’t change the world. One hopes people will buy it, one hopes more that people will like it.

And one goes back to work on making sure that book #2 is better.

I know people think that sounds silly, but I’m backwards to the norm. My husband tests books on the first page. He says that it’s the most edited page in the whole book. I think for a lot of authors, particularly debut authors, he’s probably right. We have whole contests – like the Debut Dagger – that are based on assessing the first 3000 words of the story. You don’t even have to have written the rest of the book.

So, you might not even be a novelist, and yet you might win because you can write a strong intro…. But can you hold a whole story together?

Some obviously can go on to do that. Not everyone, but that isn’t the point. The point is, because agents read intros and the first few chapters, new writers go over them again and again and again…

Yet everyone says of my stuff that I start off strong and build to a boil.

A lot of authors also have a prolonged period of time to write and edit book one, from when they start to when they get a deal to when they actually get published. In some cases, 2-4 years. For me, 11 months after signing, my book’s coming out.

Yep, I’m an anomaly, all-round.

I don’t think that’s such a bad thing. I have strange goals. For some, world domination, topping the bestseller lists in every country imaginable, are the driving focus.

Me? I want everything I put out to be better than the last thing. I want to write a bit of horror, a bit of hardboiled, a bit of procedural, a bit of suspense.

I want to try whatever’s interesting to me, at the time.

I’ll always have my mainstays. The Canadian series I could write for ten books, easily. I can see that from where I am now, ready to embark on book 3 when I can find the time.

But knowing that doesn’t keep me from wanting to write that Micky Rickards novel I have the premise for. And that won’t be a procedural.

Right now, I can still try my hand at a lot of things and grow from that. Right now, I’m not so ‘known’ that I’m expected to be any one thing as a writer.

And I’m going to enjoy that, because authors are more than one character, they’re more than one series. I think there’s an enormous fear that comes from being so connected to one thing that you’re typecast as an author. As though you can’t do anything else.

All I know is, if I was stuck doing only one thing for my career, I’d be bored. I love to try my hand at new things. In fact, Stephen Blackmoore recently read something very different for me.

And given that I don’t even like writing sex, I was damn proud to pull that story off. The rest of you will have to wait, though.

Unless you ask very nicely. And even then...

I know most of you guys are busy with NaNoWriMo. When you’re done, why not give yourself a new challenge – try something completely different. You never know – you might like it.

But don't try this - another reason it’s great to be nobody. A new book will parody some of the most famous detectives of crime fiction. In other words, fan fiction takes a nasty turn and gets officially sanctioned as something legitimate by hiding under the guise of satire.

The appeal is completely lost on me.

You know what it is about fan fiction that bothers me? I mean, beyond the obvious copyright issues and the burning temptation to tell people to come up with their own characters? It’s the feeling that someone’s reaching inside my head and trying to manipulate parts of me. That’s how I imagine it.

Finding out someone had hijacked Farraday and Lara and written some steamy scene where they get up close and personal in a variety of kinky ways would mortify me. It would be on the same level as finding out someone had a sex fantasy about me. YUCK! That’s just so wrong.

I mean, what people do in the sanctity of their own mind, in their own home… There’s nothing you can do about that. But for crying out loud people, don’t post it on the internet or – heaven forbid – publish a book about it.

I don’t see anything artistic or inspiring in the idea of someone mocking loved literary characters. Oh, I mean, I have an appreciation for comedy sketches and shows that do that sort of thing, where it’s a five-minute segment, done and gone, and on TV for free.

But publishing a whole book of the stuff that I’m supposed to spend hours (Yes – fuck me, hours. I’m a slow reader. If I was allowed to change one thing about myself I might even keep the curly hair and just increase the speed I can read at.) reading and I’d have to shell out cash for it too?

Not bloody likely. Funny, I can think Weird Al has talent and have a certain appreciation for what he does…I think part of that is adopting the style of each artist he mimics, not just taking a bunch of characters from various countries, changing their personas radically and throwing them all together…

Anyway, definitely a book I won’t be picking up. And beyond that, this would be the down side of being famous or having a popular series – fan fiction. I know I can’t stop people from writing the stuff, but I don’t have to like it. I just hope if anyone does write fan fic based off of my work, they never take it upon themselves to email me the stuff. I want to keep my mind - and my characters - pure.


S. W. Vaughn said...

Writing a better book next time -- that's what I live for, too. :-) It's the best thing I can think of for a reason to keep writing.

LOL Another thing we have in common, Sandra!

Sandra Ruttan said...

SW, it's a good thing to have in common, in my opinion!

John McFetridge said...

Okay, this isn't exactly a defense of fan fiction, but an observation. When I was learning how to play guitar I learned a lot of famous songs. When I joined a band, we played a lot of well known songs before we ever wrote any of our own.

Elmore Leonard has said that when he was learning to write, he'd type the first half of a page from a Hemingway novel and then try and write something that would fit with it. For practise.

Sometimes that's what I think fan fiction can do - it's like a cover version.

But I don't think it should ever be published. Even online. Or shown to anyone. It can be practise, but that's it. (I say all this, but I've never tried to write any and I've never actually read any).

And yeah, the 2nd book. Harder. For sure. And now the 3rd. Even harder. When does this start getting easier?

Sandra Ruttan said...

I can see that John. And there are contests, like End of Story, where the first part is written by a famous author and people are invited to write an ending and submit it and the author who penned the beginning picks the winner.

But it's the being published online stuff. Ugh. Did you know there's fan fiction of Harry Potter having sex with Hermione? That's not learning to write, that's just perverting somebody's work.

I think it would be incredible to be so defined by style that there was an anthology tribute to you as a writer, where each contributor wrote your style, or with permission used a character from your work in a story. That would be incredible, to achieve that. I mean, that's hearing authors say, "I want to do what they do." That's cool. We all want to emulate the authors who influence us... I just have no plans to write a Rebus story.

Anonymous said...

Quite honestly, I'd be flattered if someone took the time to write a fan fic about one of my characters. Maybe a Peter/Ruby Jane/Skin threesome. Yuck, but ha ha ha! I'd get a total kick out of it.

And the post that you linked to about the satirical Rhombus et. al. book? Well, I would have no problem with that either. One sign of success is when you become enough of a cultural phenomenon that someone is able to mock you for money.

I wouldn't see it as perverting my work but rather validation of my work. It would be saying, "That Bill Cameron has produced a body of work significant enough to fuck with." Bring it on.

S. W. Vaughn said...

Poor John! Don't you know it never gets easier? :-)

Anonymous said...

I was going to say something negative about fan ficcers. But then I remembered you already know what I think of them, so there's really no point in my going on yet another rant about these worthless, lowlife bloodsucking vermin who should be forced to endure atomic wedgies while the whole world watches via satellite.

See? I've learned to keep my opinions to myself.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Bill, I know what you're getting for Christmas. ;)

Patrick... I just snorted coke (the cola variety) up my nose. Thank you so much.

Anonymous said...

I just hope it's hawt.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Maybe I should let you read that other thing, the thing Stephen's read. Then you can tell me if I can write hawt. ;)

Lisa Hunter said...

Well, world domination is tempting...
but you're right to think about non-writing interests. It helps keep insanity at bay.

Stephen Blackmoore said...

World domination? Ugh. Why would anyone want to run the world? Every waking hour would filled with trade treaties, keeping all your nation states under your iron thumb, the possibility that some British super-spy in a tuxedo will show up and brings the whole works down around your ears. Who needs it?

Buffy said...

I've stumbled upon some enjoyable blogs tonight...but I think yours has to be my favourite.


Sandra Ruttan said...

Thanks for dropping by Buffy!