Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Why is it so important for me to see Jonas's story published?

I suppose this is the question I might be asked a bunch of times in the upcoming years. I made this year THE year when I made the new year's resolution to get published... and so far, I have little to show for it except for an email folder full of rejections as well as queries I have yet to hear back about.

The most precise bit of criticism I got was my most recent response from a new agent. "It didn't hook me enough to want to read more." That is, of course, from my previous draft. I have been stuck in neutral going past chapter 3, which I had most recently finished. There are a couple reasons for it. Lack of interest and motivation for sure, that's always my greatest enemy. This year, I think I was emailing queries for a couple days solid the first week... let it go for a while... went to revise some more... started to email more a couple months later... still nothing... one or two rejections later, I kept going.
The most recent push I had was the news that "The Help" had gotten rejected 60 times. Which gives me a lot of hope. I think I am up to my 10th rejection, maybe 15th... it's hard to really say.

My family is wary of my future, as am I. As much as I hated the lab I worked at [some days], my termination over a year ago derailed somewhat of a life's plan I had. It was very tiny and open for change, obviously. I'd work there, no matter how much I hated it, for three years to at least establish my amount of experience. During that time, I could determine what I wanted to study in grad school.

I have yet to find the answer to that question. My biggest fear is my degree being completely wasted because the only thing it did was buy me time... time I needed to decide what I wanted to be when I grew up. I'm grown up (at least physically, mentally, not entirely yet) without a single clue. Every now and then, when I'm not busy wasting time elsewhere, I worry about that.

The other greatest brick wall I have yet to climb over ties in a bit to Jonas and why his story is so important for me to iron out the details so at least, I feel comfortable enough where I believe anyone would be interested in the story. All that I require is the chance to succeed.

One person who read my story inferred that I hide my true self from society the way Jonas had, that connection. I'm certainly not going to argue that point. It's the truth. I'm more myself when I'm writing than when I'm in conversation.

Jonas has a severe case of social anxiety, which makes my situation look like child's play. But because I am evaluating myself here, the horrible truth of it makes me feel a lot worse. Perhaps inherited from his previous life, Jonas has a few psychic abilities. The tamest, the easiest for him to control is his mind-reading capabilities, which only require direct contact with another being. But when he gets overwhelmed, either by crowd noise or as is the case later on with Eric, confrontation, he subconsciously uses his telekinetic ability. It forms a barrier to protect him and anyone within a foot of him is shoved away. I've yet to decide where the last ability will get its say or I'll just leave it in the cutting room; its another method of self-preservation-- Jonas is able to erase the memory of any unusual incident that was out of his control.

In the last case of that last, I could just as easily change it. It seems a little too convenient that Jonas had erase memories. To borrow from a psychological principle, those who are closest to Jonas when whatever happens (with a few exceptions: Johnny, who was directly involved, and Mai, who for whatever reason is more observant than everyone else... it's part of her gossip-loving personality) repress the incident because it was so terrifying. People involved in dramatic accidents like car crashes experience that all the time.

I'm very self-conscious a lot of the time of letting people know too much about me. I think that they're just not going to get me. I have a tendency to repeat myself a lot when it comes to things I'm passionate about and I want to cut down on that act of annoyance. "Socially conscious" is how I'm going to describe. When it comes to putting myself out there, interacting with people I don't know, I feel like I get panic attacks real easy. Once I get used to a situation or it goes away, I can relax, but beforehand, I have a very strong "fight/flight" instinct because of the adrenaline.
A couple of my friends, those whose opinions I really trust, have told me that I need to put myself out there more as if they're giving me a direct order. No fault on either of them, I completely agree. But I feel like I can't be told directly how to live my life... not so much that I need to be taken by the hand and escorted directly, but I don't go into situations thinking along the lines of most other people.

I'm 25 now and haven't lived a whole lot of life except for 4 years of college. My being socially conscious at this point is a problem. My mindset is in 90% of cases that the moment I try to put myself out there, I expect to be turned away, turned down or otherwise told that I can't. I'd encountered that problem throughout my schooling to the point I couldn't directly engage in group activities unless I was put in a group by the teacher or I happened to know those people really well. In most cases, I felt like a minority as in everyone else in the room was popular, had popular friends, that didn't associate with people like me.

People like me who don't know what their calling in life is. Writing is the closest thing I have to that. It certainly has helped me find a method of self-expression. It takes me a lot longer to think through what I say aloud whereas with typing, whatever I'm thinking is directly communicated to my fingertips. The fear of what I'm saying or wanting to say isn't interesting enough for the other people in the room prompts me to think through what I want to say and delegating opportunities for me to speak my mind. I listen first and bring my thoughts into conversation second. People often mistake that for shyness.
The true issue lies in the fact I'm not sure who I am in a lot of cases. I know my interests are highly associated with pop culture, sci-fi/paranormal/fantasy, music, football and a few other random things. But I'm not sure until the conversation starts going where I figure into things. So, in fear of sounding like a complete idiot for being completely random about a topic, I wait for my opportunity.

Okay, so now I'd completely lost myself in my own issues where Jonas is the one I'd come here to talk about.

He's lucky because he has a destiny all laid out for him. It's just a matter of timing and discovering that he has the power to achieve what he needs to achieve. Looking back, I'd say that Jonas seems very comfortable living life the way he does, doesn't believe anything is wrong with being alone. At the same time, though, he feels free to discuss all of this with Nina, as if she's the one person who can understand. Her being his soul mate is the only way I can explain.
Would it be too much of a stress for Jonas to answer Nina's obvious question of "why tell me all this?" with: "I have this strong feeling that maybe we met before... in another life"
Not so much to make it sound like she isn't interested, she is in AWE of him. I would very much like to give little opportunity for anyone to believe he is picking her out specifically to spill his guts to for other reasons. And I'd very much like for it not to sound like he's creepy about it either. Supposing he was 25 and she was 14, then that'd be different
(although I do explore something like that in another story entirely... Tricia finds herself in a relationship with someone who had only visited her in the night... he is in fact the ghost of her boyfriend... the car accident that killed him drove her to amnesia so her long term memory is limited to the past 4 years of her life... doesn't remember life before, when he was part of it)

Now I'd just completely lost my train of thought...

I'm still waiting for my opportunity to succeed in life, professionally being the #1 priority. Not knowing what I want to do has left me in a crux I'd been unable to escape for over a year: I'm unqualified for or nowhere near anything my degree could get me into and I'm overqualified from the random retail positions that are the only things local and that I could possibly get into. I also came to the fact that I don't think I'm good for anything else but a cashier. People who know me would say that I have a greater skill level than that, but I seem to have developed this phobia of any position where I'm expected to take on several different tasks so the entire thing isn't routine. I have considered being slightest autistic because of this; but I prefer routine things, or else I have this blatant fear that if I leave the routine, at some point I am bound to fail for too many reasons to name.

I have been REALLY bad with run-on sentences today; my apologies.

Writing is everything to me, so why not make it my career? The pay isn't great, for starters, but at this point, I'll take any paycheck I can manage. That was the main reason my folks have tried to talk me out of it as a career for years; unless its non-fiction, there's no money in it. In other words, only the rare cases involve writers living comfortably because they were on numerous "best seller" lists.

The writing industry is pretty competitive, always has been. But those who are highly famous now have been where I have been... where people have said and will say that nobody is going to want to read whatever it is I'm writing.

I read a bit in my particular genre: sci-fi/fantasy, but as my blog's title implies, the romantasy genre is my niche (i.e. romantic fantasy... and depending on the case, could extend to paranormal romance). And I don't believe that anyone has hit where I've been hitting with my work. I talk of this one story in particular. Part of me, I guess, is also afraid to read any other stories about angels. I believe there are a couple books circulating about that. I don't want to get pulled in that direction, be tempted to write along the same lines as someone else. I also think my work will explicitly pale in comparison to what they had done.
I'm already up in arms enough about making sure that Jonas doesn't sound anything like Edward Cullen. As beloved as Twilight is by the Twi-hards (me being one of them), the genre is also loathed by as many people. Jonas won't get taken seriously if people for a minute believe he's anything like Edward.

Jonas is different in several ways. His destiny for starters: in his past life, he was an angel that could manipulate nature's elements and used them as allies to crush an evil sorcerer. He is blissfully unaware of his destiny in his current life. I don't believe reincarnation has been approached yet. His allies are pegasuses and dragons, also something that hasn't quite been done yet.

If Jonas's story gets published and established a decent following, I'm willing to bet that a lot of people like me, who feels like they aren't accepted, aren't appreciated by their peers, will be inspired by the story. They'll see that the shyest teenage boy imaginable can turn his world around simply by being given the opportunity succeed. And more importantly, finds the person who believes in them enough that in return, they feel that they're capable of more than they realized.

Aside from the prologue, which I believe has gotten really good story-wise and imagery-wise, it takes a while for people to appreciate what's going on in the story. I believe them not getting hooked right away is the greatest liability I have. But I simply can't have everything happening all at once. Jonas is established as being mysterious and otherwise, little is known about him by the people who's gone to school with him for years. Only when he's alone with Nina can he really shine, he can be open about himself.

I'm also under the impression that for a while, Jonas may fall into the pitfall of being "an inactive protagonist." For years, he has been very inactive in his life... it just passes him by with him in loneliness. Aside from when he's with his animal companions, he really isn't living at all. Meeting Nina starts to bring it out of him and I'm hoping that her being "active" for him will keep readers' interests for a while until Jonas can start coming into his own.

I'm half tempted to go on the writer's digest forum, which I occasionally frequent, and ask if my premise is interesting to ANYONE. I'm really afraid that nobody's going to get what I've written, or at least nobody that's in a position to elevate it to the next level... publication is what I'm looking for. I really don't care at the moment about it being a best seller on the NY Times or whatever the hell else they have as far as lists go.

I get a regular weekly newsletter from the magazine's website, which almost always has an interesting article that I keep in mind. The one I got yesterday, or rather last night, helped me put the brakes on that idea. It's called "Your job is to write, not worry," and it discussed not worrying about the naysayers or giving criticism to yourself. Then I read something I had forgotten in the past couple months: the idea is to find the one agent/publisher who gets it and they'll help take care of the rest. Because I don't know heads or tails about the publishing business, as in how books get published where they end up in bookstores, I need an agent to really get me there. Plus, all of the possible publishing houses that cater to my genre won't take anyone who isn't represented by someone in the business.

There are a lot of issues I have with forums, just as many as reasons why I like to use them. They get your thoughts out there for other people to read. That alone should be initiative enough. But its very democractic. I'm so wrapped up in my own little world, my writing, all about me. The only way you really get noticed is by giving feedback first... therefore people are more likely to respond to you. Writers, I believe in general to be very selfish creatures. I know I am one of them. My usual run-of-the-mill trip is that I put a topic or thread out there, it gets a few replies and it stops there. Everyone loses interest and keeps going on with their lives. For a person who is extremely reserved in reality, my greatest fault is that I'm very self-involved and heck with it... I hate having to compete with everyone else.

The HarperCollins Teen forum was very much like that. You have to give feedback for people to notice you. Then you have to hope people are reading your story, respond to it and supposedly only the top 5 get published evey month. There is a plethora of new books and new writers, so I could be on there for years and not get the essential reads.

The "giving in order to receieve" ground rule really does annoy me because I'm extremely impatient. I want to hear feedback right away, I want to hear people say they loved my work, but half the time, I don't get a lot of compliments. I consider myself lucky if anyone reads it all the way through. That's the greatest issue, and by romantasy standards, my works aren't even that long. The first Harry Potter book is about 300 pages and Twilight is about 500-600. Jonas has gotten as long as maybe 130 pages at some point, not nearly novel-length by most standards.

I shouldn't be worried that nobody will "get" Jonas, but that's what I do constantly. Everytime I send a query and don't hear back, I think that I'm not good enough for even a reply.
Another problem I end to have is that I'm always in the editing bay, always changing this or that because one person said it didn't work. The way I see it, I'm going to be stuck there forever.

Even more so, I worry that people are going to read it and not see the story the way I do. They're going to read it and not understand any of it. I label the first "chapter" (websites don't understand the world prologue) and I'd gotten the comment once or twice that it took someone a few pages to realize the first chapter was an origin story... because I open right into the present with Nina come Chapter 1.

I could discuss my story on the forums and in person all the time and I anticipiate get looks that literally say "WTF is this about"... it sounds like something out of a child's daydream.

My pitch needs a little finesse, I agree.
For the record, my folder has 7 rejections in it, out of 11 queries... and I believe I had receieved 3 others in another time, but at least I got rejection replies.

How does this sound, really:
"Eons ago, the elements of nature existed in harmony until an evil sorcerer arrived, taking control of fire and lightning, intent on shaping the world in his own image. Jonaseriah is an pure-hearted angel summoned to battle the sorcerer and defeat him. He triumphs, but the battle evitabley costs him his life.

Nina is a ordinary girl who arrives in a new place, anticipating a lot of new experiences. She's a city girl who's always dreamt about moving to the country with fresh air and wide-open spaces [or so that's become more of a part of her character to actually give her sufficient character]. She hears a voice in the wind that warns her of an incoming thunderstorm and she heeds his warning, all the while fascinated by the turn of events.
When she starts at a new school, she is immediately accepted into a small group of future cheerleaders, who believe she could be a great athlete for their cause. [why am I getting the "Bring it on" vibe here, lol]. Then she bumps into someone in such a sudden fashion that she's temporarily deprived of her sight and balance. Its revealed that his name is Jonas and he is notoriously the most quiet person in the school; nobody knows anything about him.
For a reason neither of them can explain, Jonas trust Nina more than any other person he'd come across in his life, so much so that he has no problem divulging his secrets to her. These secrets include his psychic abilities that have kept him away from people for years (which he fears will reveal him to be a freak), he lives alone with a man who poses as his uncle but they aren't even related (his parents disappeared as mysterious as he arrived on his guardian's doorstep) and his only companions are three horses and two iguanas. At the same time, Nina is inamered/fascinated by Jonas and can't quite figure out what it is about him that she's so drawn to.

As the school year goes on, Nina helps Jonas make friends and become more comfortable in his own skin. They even participate in a contest where Mai has to choose between two guys that are more than eager to go out with the soon-to-be head cheerleader of the junior variesty squad, but find themselves leaning towards one candidate in particular. Nina discovers that Jonas was the voice in the wind, Jonas discovers his past life and both of them realize that his horses were the pegasuses that served him in a previous life. His iguanas happen to be the two dragons, one of which is still loyal to his master, Jonaseriah's sworn enemy.

Jonas embraces his destiny without a second thought, but comes to realize how much he cares for Nina. In the end, she could be the one thing he cannot afford to lose, now that his past has returned to him. [Consequently, she is the reason he discovers and is able to embrace his destiny: she is his soulmate, which explains the initial attraction between them]"

hmm... maybe I should post that on the forum and see what the comments are... maybe people will ask what they're most curious to know. It couldn't hurt.

I think the worst part of the pitching process is that there's always a word limit... I HATE word limits, cannot even comprehend them. I'm likely I have an ample Twitter update every couple weeks, that's how bad I am with summarizing. There is simply so much to say that I hate to limit myself a number of words (or worse, characters).

That's also why its hard to explain my story in person. There is just too much to say/sum up to keep anyone attention for more than a minute or two.

What makes Jonas so special and important? I guess I could at least manage a short list about that:
  • How many angels do you read about, particularly those who are reincarnated?
  • The realm of his origin story has gotten quite fantastic, even though it's devestated by the time he arrives
  • His allys (allies?) are pegasues and dragons that represent the elements of nature
  • Coincidentally, Nina is as fascinated by Jonas as Jonas is comfortable with being himself around her, though neither of them can quite explain why. There's something deeper there than just the inital attraction (hopefully, my words will help reflect that)
  • It's not highlighted a great deal, but Jonas was really a victim of bullying. People talk behind his back about him, wondering why he spends so much time alone (nobody moreso than Mai, who clearly has a printing press in her basement, lol, or else she wouldn't get the facility funding to print gossip columns every once in a while... man, if I'm really to make an impact on this, I should attempt to at least cultivate a few example articles... although it might be best if that's in "deleted scenes," it'd take away from the flow of the story)... ultimately with the confidence he gains from spending a weekend with Nina, he is finally able to tell Mai to get off it and he's had enough (I could also spend time on this blog going into what that conversation would be like)
What I really ought to do, just to signify the differences, is show how Jonas is like with Nina, very comfortable with himself. But then when he's around other people, especially at school, he should be less sure, more nervous. He has the calm demeanor unless it comes to direct interaction, in which cases, he works to not hyperventilate... in the later chapters as I revise them in this new way (which hopefully I will pick up soon), that's something I should certainly make a note of attempting.

Maybe another great message of the story is how finding love and acceptence, even if its only with one person, can make a world of difference.

1 comment:

  1. I know exactly how you feel...It isa pity that there are not many others like yourself...