Chez Shaffner

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Phew, I’m Exhausted

I know what you’re thinking: Mr. “Retired at 29” can’t find time in his busy life to update his blog. And I’m embarrassed, truly embarrassed.

So what have I been doing with my days?

Editing my pre-agent, pre-publisher novel, that’s what.

Years ago, when I started down this crazy path, I read articles in Poets & Writers, Writer’s Digest, online writing communities, etc., wherein authors spoke about how long they spent writing their novels. Years seemed the norm. Three years. Five years. Ten years.

What’s wrong with these people? I asked, with inexperienced exuberance. At the time, I had cranked out two hundred pages of my first novel (long since shelved) in about two months and thought I was on my way to great things: a contract with an agent at ICM; a multi-book deal with HarperCollins.

The book was titled Green, and I thought the world of it. Here’s how it opened:

    In the distance, water rushed and plates clinked. Nearer, a tray fell and customers clapped. A woman in the restaurant coached her young daughter: “Clap, honey. It’s what you’re supposed to do when that happens.” Justin Langham flashed a glare and shook his head—she could say that because she had never been behind the broom clearing the clutter, the shattered glass and china, the viscous gobs of food.

    The late dinner crowd awaited tables and the early drinking crowd began to crawl through the Boston bar circuit; Karlos was undergoing its nightly metamorphosis from upscale restaurant to trendy nightspot.

    Ice cubes tumbled against glass. Justin poured from a well bottle and sprayed the soda gun. He squeezed the life from a lime wedge and reached into the cooler for icy bottles. He served drinks, made change, and memorized orders like a machine.

    Justin scanned the crowd, searching for the cues he knew so well: the head nod, the single finger, the upheld twenty. He watched closely to remember who got there first, capturing their faces in his memory. Patrons pushed, clawed, and elbowed when it got crowded, and it helped if Justin remembered their last order, their peculiar liquor preferences, and their tipping habits.

Not terrible, right? Incidentally, the Word document stands at 275 pages (it surpassed 400 at one point, before I realized it stunk). That snippet above is the closest Green will ever come to publication.

Green humbled me, but my current project has made me understand what it takes to finish a novel, even if every agent and publishing house rejects it. The finish line is in sight, if I can find the energy to lift my knees, I'll make it...

(As of this writing, the final chapter remains unfinished, which means I probably won’t make my self-imposed deadline of Friday at 5pm...)

Monday, December 11, 2006

Writing Live at Being There

Hey there again, so much for updating this blog every day for two weeks. Good news is that I’ve been to some really fun Christmas parties, my shopping is 90% complete, and I rode a two-week streak at the gym, if not on the blog.

In other good news, I have two new pieces over at Being There Magazine as part of their December update.

While you’re over there, take a look through the other updates they’ve posted. And make sure to drop me an email to tell me what you think...