Sunday, October 9, 2011

Most recent reads

Android Karenina.

Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World.

It's not very professional

...but I still get this burst of glee and terror any time I get an e-mail having to do with the manuscript. It just feels so awesome that somebody is handling my stuff, and it's actual WORK for them, not just the kindness of loved ones.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

And there was much cheering

The contract is here!

Of course, now it's hitting me that I have two weeks left and still have to revise multiple chapters...

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Acknowledging Time


Many died that day, and many more died because of it in the years after.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Numbers

 Sometimes, I worry that either she won't be able to sell the book, or that it will do poorly and not even earn through the advance. The statistics on book sales are tremendously discouraging.

Then I consider the process of even getting to this point. On average, the agency goes through something like dozens to something over a hundred queries a day. So, in a year, they will plow through tens of thousands of queries... and select just a very, very few. My agent only took 2 new clients or something last year.

So, in a way, my story has already out-competed thousands and thousands of other stories. That should be encouraging, right?

It really was difficult getting to this point. Years went by, during which I would write, knowing that the odds are nobody in the industry will ever read beyond even the first page of the manuscript... And of course, nobody will take an unfinished manuscript, so I spent years writing novels nobody except my wife and best friend would actually read. In the meantime, my other friends and siblings would progress with their careers and lives, while mine was on hold, because writing is the only thing I love to do.

I worked in the Human Genome Project at one point. I was involved in a few bioinformatics papers, and in programming an information system for a bunch of chronobiologists in Europe. But really... writing is all I want to do.

There were a lot of times I almost gave it up. How can you really know if you have a chance, if you have what it takes, without being told by someone in the business? Friends and loved ones are biased. Writing workshops and groups are inherently predisposed to being positive mutual support...

So, the years would tick by while I basically wrote in the darkness. I kept writing not because I thought I would make it, but because I was miserable doing other things. The reality is that there are a lot of people out there who will never make it through traditional publishing no matter how long and how hard they try, and while a tiny fraction of them may find success through self-publishing on the web, most self-publishers won't ever sell more than few dozen copies.

I am not an expert, so I could not tell anyone really, whether they can make it or not. I still might not! I wonder though, how many writers are like I was, writing not for the hope of getting published, but because everything else is unsatisfying.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

More Time

My agent of course has other clients. She has a bunch of stuff to deal with in September. So I have a couple weeks more.

So rather than just diving into fixing this series of major changes in the last quarter of the manuscript, I'll have a little more time to plan things out and work through possible alternative plot-lines.

There are those who just sit and write with a bare bones outline and those who carefully design their cast of characters and then set them loose. I used to be more spontaneous as a writer, but in all large projects, like programming an information system or doing scientific research, deliberate design and a clear process are just better.

I will often prototype a few chapters now, see how it's going, and then write it over from the beginning when I have a clearer picture of what is and isn't working, as well as having a large outline that has a series of events and plot threads I may or may not slide in as I write the first real draft.

For this project that got me an offer, I think I wrote about 20,000 words before I restarted. Zeroth drafts are not wasted even if I do not use anything in them--as in programming, they help clarify what I want out of the final product during the specification and design phases.

They can also be useful during revision, for getting another perspective on what I thought were problems and what were positives before.

Monday, August 29, 2011

A Great Line

"Celebrate the process."

Wish I knew who said it first. I heard it first on Chef at Home with Michael Smith, but I know it's been out there a while.

Sunday, August 28, 2011


When I was a child, I once dreamed that I was a cowboy walking through one of those perfect movie towns with dust driven by the wind and hitching posts and horses and such. And that under my hat, I had the most incredible headache of all time. With each step I took, I would see a cross section of my body (which was hollow), and a great big rock would bounce up into the top of my skull from inside me.

I don't actually have a headache right now--that was last week when I was sick. It's the universe around me that is a headache. Screwy internet connection, repair guys pounding things in the ceiling... I just want to listen to my Shibuya-kei and try to get into the zone.

Friday, August 26, 2011


The Agency contract is getting mailed to me soon. Woo! Hope it doesn't get lost in the mail.

A weakness of mine during revisions: the tendency to add a cool-sounding line somewhere, only to later realize that I already used it someplace else =(

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Figuring and Obstacles

I've figured out a solution to my bothersome chapter. I hope it doesn't take as long for the other bothersome chapters or it will be cutting it close.

Of course, it doesn't help that I've come down with something.

Thursday, August 18, 2011


For someone who is not a nurse or doctor or med tech, I have been inside hospitals A LOT. It is incredibly draining, and brings up bad memories. Taking Mom later. Will just have to see.

The Players

My agent is a hard-working lady that climbed her way from being totally new to having a significant list including some very successful writers. More important to me than how many copies her clients have sold: she also has a very high success rate for getting her clients book deals. And she's nice.

I consider myself fortunate to have gotten an offer from her. It seems like only yesterday that I was reading a form rejection from her assistant for the book I finished the year before, and here I am, giddily planning out the few weeks I have left to fix the main flaws that she pointed out in the story I finished this year.

I am a self-taught writer. I did not major (or minor) in English or Creative Writing or Literature, but in Molecular Biology (with 3/4ths of a master's in computer science). As of this post, I am not a member of SFWA or any other big writing group, I have never attended a book fair or conference, and before chatting with my agent, I had never spoken to an industry professional.

I just read a lot of books and kept trying to write what interested me.

A Baby's Cry

My journey to get here is different and yet the same as that of thousands of others who are only happy writing. Nevermind those specifics. They may as well be generalities.

I'm starting this blog as a diary. I received affirmation from a professional in the business that something I wrote was good enough for people to pay for it (with some editing, of course).

What's that mean?

I have an agent now, and I will be writing about what happens from here until I get published and beyond... Hopefully. I am well aware that having an agent is no guarantee, and even getting published does not mean I'll be making minimum wage.

There are plenty of books by famous writers about their struggles before they made it. And there is so much material on the internet supporting those who are attempting to get here. It does not seem, though, that there is that much material about what happens in-between getting an agent and getting published. So that's what this journal is for.

I am in my 30s. What came before was amateur; what comes next is my trying to make it to pro. That does not mean writing and selling one book. It means writing and selling one book after another, for the rest of my life. It is the only ride I cannot quit.

There are many people wiser than me, so I hope nothing I write on this blog sounds pretentious.