Saturday, January 18, 2014

This is What I'm Doing: The January 2014 Edition

I kind of went heads-down over the last few months of 2013, more than I intended or expected to. Between family and work, the holidays, the extreme weather adventures (I know I'm not alone there -- for a while it seemed like the entire continent was snowed in and frozen solid), I was pretty engaged in other things. 

Oh, and there was winning NaNoWriMo, but I kind of feel like I bragged about that one enough, on Twitter and Facebook, when it actually happened. It's worth mentioning, but more because obviously it was taking up a lot of my time and my writing energy in November. 

(It left me with a post-NaNo hangover, too. It was hard to buckle down and write in December. I spent a lot of the month feeling wrung out and like I needed to recharge my creative batteries.)

The important thing is that I used NaNoWriMo to kick off what appears to be my next novel, a science-fiction story with the working title Nobody's Watching

So, what am I doing now? 

Nobody's Watching was on hold while I shook off the post-NaNoWriMo doldrums, but I'm about ready to resume work on it. It helps that it's the work-in-progress that I've been taking to my writers group, because I do get motivated by deadlines. 

I've been continuing to take my short fiction to market, so far without success. I currently have three stories out on submission (with a fourth that just got a rejection, so I really need to get it out there again as well). More news on that as it happens. In terms of time and project management, short stories tend to be one of two things for me: the short, sharp idea that gets stuck in my head and won't go away until I write it; and/or creative palate cleansers between long stretches of working on a novel. 

The result of this is that I have a backlog of short fiction pieces in addition to the ones that are currently out to market -- about six or eight, I think, in various states of readiness between "just needs a polish" to "oh my FSM what was I thinking this calls for a page-one rewrite". 

My plan is to work on revising and finishing these stories over the first half of this year, in between working on the big ticket projects -- Nobody's Watching, until it's done. I have a pretty good sense of what the novel after that will be, too, but I'm going to keep my powder dry on that one until Nobody's Watching is actually a finished draft.

In other news, I spent a lot of the fall polishing All That Glitters, and my other big initiative for the New Year is going to be using it to query literary agents and seek representation. I'm not sure how much of this process I really should go into -- certainly I'm not going to name any names, that's just unprofessional. So let's just say that the manuscript is ready, and I've been honing my query letter and, more painfully, my synopsis. And now I'm as ready as I'm going to be. It's time to see if my first novel is ready to fly. 

Nervous? Ha. I'm feeling a combination of heady excitement and stomach-curdling anxiety that reminds me of nothing so much as when I was in theatre. It's exhilarating and terrifying to be confronted with the prospect of taking a step that could lead to either success or showing my ass in public (which has actually literally happened to me a couple of times, but that doesn't seem to make this any easier).

For now, let's just say there'll be more news on that when I have something I can share. 

I'm also continuing to focus on home and family, work and on my own health, the latter of which I sort of lost the thread of over 2013, and need to get back on top of. And there are other creative projects on the horizon, including some interesting potential ones relating to my comics work. Again, more on that when it's less nebulous. 

2013 was a remarkable year, full of peaks and valleys. I did some of my best writing last year, even if it has yet to see the light of day. I also had a personal health crisis that literally could have killed me. The peaks were high. The valleys were real nadirs. All in all, I'm glad it's a new year. 

It's January, 2014 and on reflection, it seems like I've got rather a lot I want to do. It's time to do it. It's time to move forward. I hope we can all move forward, together. And I look forward to telling you about the steps I take in my journey -- and hearing about yours. 


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Because Really, Don't We All Want a Party in a Can?

Years ago -- the early 90's, I think -- Sprite ran a fun, subversive little ad campaign that involved mocking the tropes of soft drink ad campaigns. They turned the tropes up to eleven and then contrasted the overblown hype with Sprite, and the slogan "Image is nothing. Taste is everything. Obey your thirst."

I enjoyed those ads. They were fun, clever and aimed right at my cynical, media-saturated Gen X heart.

My favourite was a commercial within a commercial. Two slacker-types watching TV see an ad for a soft drink called "Jooky". "Jooky: It's a party in a can!" A beach party, girls in bikinis, everybody happy and dancing, a totally over-the-top jingle actually explicating all the implicit promises of commercials -- "Jooky make you really kooky, Jooky make you manly man!"

Then the two slackers, with expressions of great anticipation, pop the tabs on their cans of Jooky. Nothing happens. No beach party. "Aw, mine's broken," says one. Cut to the Sprite slogan: "Image is nothing," etc.

Much as I loved the ad, it didn't work as intended, at least not on me. I don't drink citrus-based pops -- they upset my stomach. I was never going to buy Sprite. So what was my take-away?

Well, I understood the intent, and I appreciated the satirical sting of the commercial-within-the-commercial. I loved seeing the strings of advertising's ridiculous subtextual promises laid bare.

And I didn't care. Because after I saw that ad, all I wanted was a can of Jooky.

To this day, I still want a can of Jooky.