Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The final draft blues

Well, you've been patient with me and answered my questions during the penning of my first manuscript. Today, I sent it off. Instead of feeling delighted, as I did when the first draft came together, I feel something quite unexpected - depression. I miss my characters, I miss controlling their lives and I miss having a large work to fiddle around with, hone and perfect. It really is something close to grief, which I know is daft - I'm mourning for the figments of my imagination. Is this normal? Do lots of writers finish manuscripts and get the blues? What is the cure?

It's not at all daft to call it grief - that's just how human brains work. You were focused on something, quite intensely, and your brain got used to having it there. Now it's not there. That's how the grief mechanism works too (although the extent of grief is, no doubt, determined by how much time your brain has spent thinking about the person, place or novel). People grieve for all sorts of things and then tell themselves that it's silly, but it's not.

Writers tend to be passionate people; they're also isolated a lot of the time. Passion abhors a vacuum, and finalising a novel and sending it off produces a vacuum. So you need to fill the vacuum. Start creating your next story or, if that doesn't seem feasible, find another creative outlet. Sing, knit, cook, dance, whatever. But don't pathologise what you're feeling - it's normal, and you can make it better.

To answer your question about whether or not other writers get the blues when they finish something - I don't know. Whenever one of mine finishes something they have me standing over them pushing them to write something new. Well, actually, that's only true some of the time. Most of them just keep writing on their own. Often it's because they know they need to fend off the vacuum.

I could spend a lot of time talking about the 'creative personality' and what it needs, but I'll just sum it up by saying that once you've engaged in a massive creative task, like writing a novel, you need to keep that part of yourself active. If you do nothing, you're denying a huge part of your personality - and brain - what it needs. What you do is up to you - you don't necessarily have to write - but you do need to do something.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Okay, I'm Tweeting

Sheesh, I'm such a pushover ... Four people say, 'Yes, go ahead, go on Twitter' and I do it. And thanks to the reader who suggested that I may be consumed by the Tweet-beast but I'm already Twittering for something else - I realise it's addictive!

So there's a link on the sidebar now, or you can visit twitter.com/callsydney. This is an experiment to see if it's useful/insightful (my first priority) and if I can keep it up around everything else, without my work suffering. We shall see ...

To Twitter or not to Twitter

I'm toying with the idea of Call My Agent! on Twitter, mainly so I can give you lovely readers an insight into my crazed day-to-day existence and what happens in a typical day at the office. Of course, because my identity is top secret, I can't name my authors but I'll find some way around that. However, before I set it up, I'd like to know if anyone would find it even remotely interesting. So let me know, either in the comments or by emailing call [dot] sydney [at] gmail [dot] com, if you think Agent Twitter is a good idea ...

Thursday, April 15, 2010

E-readers, iPads, chickens, eggs etc

Recently I took delivery of a Sony Reader. I had to buy it - new - on eBay as Australians can't buy it online from any official Sony website. Nor will Sony offer me any technical support for my shiny ruby eBay purchase because I'm not a 'real' customer. And I certainly can't buy e-books from the Sony store, but I can from Books on Board and other online e-bookshops who don't care that I live in Australia.

While I have bought a handful of e-books, I mainly use the Reader for work. I load it up with manuscripts and I convert all my submission emails to txt files and put them on it too. And I have to say that it's changed my life. No longer do I have to lug manuscripts home and wear out a shoulder joint in the process; no longer are my house and office adorned with piles of paper. I find that this new way of doing things helps me better keep track of what I've read and it's just more efficient all round. It also means I can take a smaller handbag on the bus (see above mention of shoulder joint for implied benefit) as the Reader is very small and slender.

One reason I made the decision to buy a Reader rather than wait for an iPad was because all I needed an extra device for was the reading. I already have an iPhone, which I love and adore, and I didn't want to buy a glorified, oversized iPhone just for the e-reader capability. Another reason was that the iPad weighs a lot more and isn't as compact in size, and thus the weight and size advantage of an e-reader over physical manuscripts or books would be somewhat lost. So, even though I'm an Apple loyalist - iMac, iPhone, iPod - I've demurred on this occasion, and I don't regret it.

I wish the Reader were available to more Australians, although I understand the difficulties of introducing an e-book-only device in this country: there just aren't that many e-books produced for the Australia/New Zealand territories. So if you were Sony you'd be thinking (collectively) that there's no point going to the trouble of making the device available if there's not a lot for people who aren't in the publishing industry to put on it. And while there isn't a device like it in this country - and Kindle doesn't count, really, because it's for Kindle books only - there's less incentive for publishers to create e-books. Thereby we come to the classic chicken-and-egg scenario, and frankly I don't think Sony should be the one to go first.

Australian publishers are slowly starting to produce e-books - although two (Macmillan and Allen & Unwin) have been doing it for a while - but it's not really fast enough. They're also not, as far as I can tell, planning to produce e-books for overseas titles for which they have the ANZ e-book rights, which is a source of frustration. Many is the time I've gone through the buying process for foreign English-language books on Books on Board, putting in my payment details, only to be presented with a screen saying that the e-book is not available in my territory. No, and neither is the print book. Except in the library, which is where I have to go if I want to read it. And that means the author doesn't get the royalty they would have received if I'd bought the e-book. Which will probably never be produced in this territory. Around we go again.

So we're still waiting to find out what's really happening here, but time is running out. And in the meantime I can't buy many Australian books for my non-Australian Sony Reader and I would really like to. I would probably buy more of them, especially if the price were lower than the RRP. But I can't. Cheep cheep.