Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A thought occurs...

An act of chivalry is of more benefit to the gentleman than to the recipient.

That is all.

Monday, June 28, 2010

On editors and the publishing process

So I'm a bit late on posting. Sorry about that. Poor time management on my part.

Self flagellation concluded, between trying to parse out accounting over an online course, big mistake, and establishing Iago's identity as an alien infiltrator for a paper in my English class, I've been pretty dang busy. Also, the wifey and I are getting ready for a two week camping trip.

So, I mentioned earlier I finally submitted my manuscript. It spent just a couple days in the hands of first readers whom I suspect were office lackeys before I got a rather aggravating e-mail from an editor, from a publishing house I'll never contact again, who demanded I make a series of changes. Now, this company had promised to be a great entryway into the world of the published author and I'd even been recommended to them by other writers.

Thing is, I've never seen one of their books on a book shelf. I'm not sure what to make of that.

In any case, the prime objection to the manuscript as submitted was how various characters, no matter how important to the story, could seemingly just die at any point without an emotional context. You know, a bit like in real life. Now, apparently, this was a bit jarring to the readers and thus some manner of change seems indicated as all parties involved wish to emerge profitably from the endeavor. Fair enough. However, what is certainly not indicated, was to have some nattering deconstructionist* tell me I have no idea how to 'convincingly portray a life and death situation.'

I'm no Ringo, or Kratman, or any of the other highly successful mil-SF authors out there. My experience of combat was, I suspect anyway, far different and more limited than at least the two I named. That said, I suspect I have a rather better idea of what combat looks, feels, sounds, and smells like than some office bound junior editor who has misinterpreted his job responsibilities to include literary criticism.

I would have at least liked a bit of consistency. With regards to one scene I'm being told that the emotional reactions of my characters are too pronounced and, apparently, an elite group of combat veterans should share the same ideological and emotional nihilism of the more pretentious breed of literary critic. Soldiers, apparently, are allowed no emotional range beyond angst ridden bitterness or bloodthirsty and amoral. However, when someone dies in a seemingly arbitrary fashion during an event in which he was essentially an interested spectator, this should have had a profound effect on the insufficiently emotionally-stunted survivors. Apparently, they should have taken a moment to reflect on the chaos, pointlessness, and random nature of war. Not, of course, as I was quickly consoled, that any of their views on what they were doing should have changed, but they certainly should have re-evaluated them. Nevermind that they had a mission to do and were already being shot at, hence the a fore mentioned death. No they should have had an emotional scene of some variety there.

Well, if your reading this, Mr. Editor, you can go stuff yourself.

That particular scene was the greatest source of contention and it is NOT getting changed. Yes, I have already changed quite a few other scenes and now I'm trying what to do with all these characters who are suddenly not dead. I'll deal with it. If nothing else, after the numerous rewrites at this point, I've certainly gained experience.

If/when this particular manuscripts does get published, I'm gonna mail an autographed copy to that little twerp with that scene dogeared and, "Suck it!" written in the margin at the end of the chapter.

*I already have enough of a problem with deconstruction as a form of literary analysis as it essentially intends to prove that nothing actually means anything. Which of course is an incomplete method as at least some things have a very obvious, clear cut moral to them. With a very few notable exceptions, I've only seen deconstruction used to 'prove' that no piece of literature communicates any idea that the deconstructionist objects to.

Poetry Corner: Tennyson edition

The Charge of the Light Brigade

Alfred, Lord Tennyson


Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
"Forward, the Light Brigade!
"Charge for the guns!" he said:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.


"Forward, the Light Brigade!"
Was there a man dismay'd?
Not tho' the soldier knew
Someone had blunder'd:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.


Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the six hundred.


Flash'd all their sabres bare,
Flash'd as they turn'd in air,
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army, while
All the world wonder'd:
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right thro' the line they broke;
Cossack and Russian
Reel'd from the sabre stroke
Shatter'd and sunder'd.
Then they rode back, but not
Not the six hundred.


Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
While horse and hero fell,
They that had fought so well
Came thro' the jaws of Death
Back from the mouth of Hell,
All that was left of them,
Left of six hundred.


When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
All the world wondered.
Honor the charge they made,
Honor the Light Brigade,
Noble six hundred.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

So I've been writing a bit

Not here, obviously. I finished up the manuscript, pared it down a bit, and edited for grammar and punctuation. Took a deep breath and sent it off into the world.

Only to promptly get it kicked back to me. Apparently, when an important character dies it cannot seem random and/or arbitrary. Also it must be emotionally meaningful and have a dramatic impact on the surviving characters, never mind the fact that they had a combat mission to finish.

I'll likely gripe about that in a bit more length later, but the salient detail is that, since I want to be published for $$*, I've been doing a rather extensive rewrite. Apparently, using a random number generator to decide when someone will die is unsettling and jarring to the reader. You know, kind of like it is to people who actually go through combat.

Not being able to spare time for a more meaningful post, I've been neglecting this blog. I shall endeavor to rectify this shortcoming. Of course, I've said that before so caveat emptor.

Be seeing you around, poetry corner tomorrow and the exciting story of how a young, aspiring author nearly killed an editor by beaming pure hate through e-mail.

*artistic vision, integrity, or whatever else you want to call it is nice, but I want money. Sweet, sweet money. And just as a stab in the eye, the death scene which was the largest source of contention will NOT be changed.