Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Standing Together And Falling Apart

Stuart MacBride sucks.

I’m not just saying it because I think he needs to be taken down a notch or two, in light of his recent nominations for a dagger award and being shortlisted for the Theakston’s prize. I’m saying this because just this morning, I stayed snuggled under the covers, Rebus on my feet, racing my way through the final chapters of Broken Skin.

And who needs to hear me talk about it when they can read the glowing reviews themselves?

There is a blessing and a curse when you read a great book. On the one hand – hurrah! I didn’t waste $28 on crap! On the other hand how does this jerk do it and make it look so damn easy? I’m not one to give away spoilers but… well, fuck Stuart, did you have to do that to us? Jerk.

Yep, days like this I’m not sure why I ever thought I should try getting published. Stuart’s the proof to me of how much I have to learn. And I’d swear at him some more, except he’s one of those temperamental artistic types, so I have to be careful with his ego. Which, by rights, should be about the size of Aberdeen by now.

I almost think I might have to wait and not read for a few weeks, so that I can delude myself into thinking I can pull this book off. (I've put the planned sequel to WBW - The Frailty of Flesh - aside, waiting to see what happens with WBW, and am working on a stand-alone. I haven't talked about it much, although I phoned Cornelia Read the other day and gave her the gist of the plot and she gave me the thumbs up, which was reassuring.) I have a short list of books I’m really looking forward to. I have a stack of Ken Bruen’s books to get caught up on. And others I’m really looking forward to include Simon Kernick’s Severerd and Val McDermid’s Beneath The Bleeding. It has been far too long since we last caught up with Tony and Carol, and in truth, far too long since Val’s last book. I still remember the impact of reading my first book by her, and thinking “WOW”. And when a reviewer drew a comparison between SC and Val McDermid all I could think was, “I wish.”

I think that’s the thing. When you read other great authors you get all this insight and inspiration. And then you kick yourself for a while and think, Why aren’t I doing something like that? I find there are two main times self doubt kicks into high gear. One is when the book is out there (or manuscript) and you’re waiting to hear what people think. Am I the only one who thinks the silence means it’s bad news? Damn, that drives me nuts.

And the insecurity kicks in when I read work by others I admire and they make it all look so easy.

Truth is, I love the manuscript that's out there right now. That's probably part of the problem. I went with the 'fuck the conventions' attitude and did exactly what I wanted to do with that manuscript. When Stuart kicked my ass last year (ie: edited Suspicious Circumstances) I took everything he taught me and carried it forward. I'd already drafted WBW, but I went over it again, and tightened it. And it's the absolute worst thing in the world to have it out there, waiting to hear if someone else will share my enthusiasm for it.

Well, okay, it's not the worst thing. I suppose the worst thing would be not having it out there at all. But at this rate with the waiting I won't have any fingernails left. What on earth do authors do to cope with this?

And I suppose I should just be happy about the fact that in a few weeks, I’ll have a new story out there, courtesy of Pulp Pusher and quit my whining and get back to work.

Sorry I’ve been very scattered here lately. I’m trying to finish up the next Spinetingler, still.


Chris said...

I, for one, am a big fan of the waiting to hear back on my MS. I certainly don't jump every time the phone rings, and I have no desire whatsoever to faint when a telemarketer stays on the line long enough for the answering machine to register a message. Now where did I put that Pepto?

Sandra Ruttan said...

Ha! You're funny. Well, either that, or abnormal.

Chris said...

I'm in no position to debate either...

Sandra Ruttan said...

At least we're in good company.

That's what the men in white coats keep telling me, anyway.

Anonymous said...

The silence probably means that they are still reading Sandra. Unable to put it down long enough to ring you(smiley goes here)! Good for you. I can't wait to get my dirty little paws on book 2...
As for Stuart. He is brilliant. *still can't believe i haven't got Broken Skin yet*

Sandra Ruttan said...

Chelbel, wait and get it at Harrogate and get it signed. And you're probably right. I've been told the longer someone holds on to your manuscript, the better it is.

But it still sucks.

Which reminds me I haven't finished clearing the Spinetingler submission backlog yet.

Maybe I should torture them until my pain has ended... Nah, I couldn't be that cruel.

Daniel Hatadi said...

"The Frailty Of Flesh" is a great title.

And now that you've brought up Stuart, I should finally get round to reading Dying Light.

But then there's Rickard's and Steinhauer's second books that I still haven't got round.


JamesO said...

Stuart's ego overran Aberdeen many, many years ago. Right now it's swamped the whole of the UK and is threatening to take on the world;}#

But you're right. The waiting is murder, and one of those mental blocks I was going on about recently that make it very hard to focus on the next project. This is how I slipped into the habit of just finishing one book and starting straight into the next one, never bothering with the tedious rounds of submission and rejection. It's twisted logic, I know, but far better the certainty that you won't get published than the endless torture that is waiting.

Chris said...

"...far better the certainty that you won't get published than the endless torture that is waiting."

That, my friend, is where you and I differ. The way I figure it, even if I'm getting my ass kicked, it just means I'm in the game.

JamesO said...

I agree with you completely, Chris. That's just a frame of mind that I found myself in a few years back, and it was far too easy to fall into. You've got to keep fighting for what you want.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Daniel, you know how it is. So many books...

James, Stuart's ego isn't that bad. It just needs to be fed continuously or it rampages the streets seeking victims.

And Chris, I'm with you on that, but I know what James is saying. Once you enter the business side of it, it's hard to separate yourself from that. It takes real mental discipline to keep it from becoming a huge distraction that gets out of control.