Do Authors Own Their Books?

Credit: theactivescrawler.blogspot.com

Hello, Blogosphere, and good morning.

So I’ve been thinking recently about publishing and what exactly my role may become as an author. I did some reading across various authorial websites and over and over again, the question indirectly posed itself on whether the author of a novel owns that novel, or has some sort of deeper understanding or knowledge of the text than its readers.

The answers submitted ranged to absolutes, and everything in between. On one end of the spectrum, some authors claimed to know exactly what their readers do, and on the other some claimed to know the existentialities and fates of everything and everything they had ever written.

Which is rather interesting to me, on both sides of the argument.

So I figured I’d offer up my piece, just to make that part of authorship a bit more muddled.

Essentially, I agree with the school of thought that says I have only as much knowledge of my story as anyone else does. I see the story, sure. I write it. But truth be told, I’d actually say I know less.

See, the thing about authors is that we never really…you know, read the books. Not like a normal person, from beginning to end without all the VoicesInTheHead yelling or whatnot. When we as authors read, even if it’s not by choice, we see behind every paragraph the other four drafts of the section, all the hardship and critiques and lingering self-doubt and the reverberating question that has no answer on whether or not this book was ever truly worth publishing in the first place.

It’s not so much personal choice for us to see all that as it is a compulsory sort of thing, and there’s nothing wrong with that at all. It’s part of the process and it lends itself to a deeper knowledge and understanding of any other work of literature.

Except our own.

I tend to think of this as a bit of a tainting of our own work, when we look at it. Try as we might, humans are rather terrible at looking at things objectively, which is further complicated by the sheer amount of brainpower and history there inherently is behind a story. If someone is privy to all that, and has firsthand experience with every bit of it, isolation of the work itself and interpretation free of any other thought-thinking is very hard to do.

And rightfully so. I honestly love that about writing–that I’ve created a seed of sorts, and upon its release it will be the job of readers to grow it into enjoyment, experience and such, as well as the profit, book tours and movie deals that authors like us kind of need in order to separate our need for writing and our need to go to some cafe.

So, that’s my two cents. I’ve never read my story, and really, I never will. As authors we gain a lot, but we pay a price. And that’s it. So what I would recommend is to let others read the book.

Let them have it. We’ve taken more than our fair share.

May you remain existential,

Evan

Symbolism And High-School English Class

Credit: poetry.rapgenius.com

Hello, Blogosphere, and good morning.

So as I’ve said before, I am a high-school student. As a result, I consider myself rather privy to the ordeals of high-school students. Takes one to know one, I suppose.

Obviously I don’t object to the reading of literary works in high schools. It’s a beautiful tool of exploration and introduction of provocative thought for students, a bit of place-finding and what-have-you. But what I do dislike is the prevalence of questions about authors in these classes, the attempt at seeing past the story itself into the poor author’s soul.

Aside from being rather creepish, I think that’s a bit of a waste of class time as a whole.

But I’m not going to focus on the whole. Rather, I’d like to focus on one question in particular.

“Why did the author intend for that symbolism to be in the piece?”

What kind of question is that? I have absolutely no idea how that can be of any value at all to a student. I hope I’m not the only one who interprets that question to be terribly cruel to the author, as now we’ve moved out of literary interpretation and trying to assign a personality to the writer. Not only is it rude and rather obnoxious, but it leaves lots and lots of room for growing fantastical and strange notions about the person and their work. It’s just very, very strange to me, and I would be unendingly happy if schools just stopped asking.

But that’s not the real root of what I’d like to explore today, either. I suppose I’m putting two posts into one, but that’s going to have to be all right for the day.

Barring any obtrusive tangentry or whatever else, though, I’m going to stay on kind-of-a-similar topic.

Did we actually intend for our symbolism to exist?

I was skimming through my completed novel a few days ago and I realized that there were a LOT of symbols and metaphors and overall lines drawn between things that I hadn’t intended. And they were actually kind of good…like, GOOD, in some cases. And yet I had no idea I was adding them in, even as I was.

So I suppose my point with this post is that the question’s not a good one, quite frankly because from my standpoint authors don’t actually intend for many of the themes in their work to actually be themes, but then they end up being these big metaphorical-resonance things that work in with the story REALLY well and occasionally could be misconstrued to be big preplanned plot points.

Next time you have a few minutes, read through a chapter or two of your work. Keep an eye out, too…what you put in there might surprise you.

May you remain existential,

Evan

A Happy Birthday Wish

Hello, Blogosphere, and good morning.

It’s a very special day.

No, it’s not Bastille Day. Apologies to all my French readers (of whom there are of course so many).

It’s also not Pi Day. That was last month. And in eleven more months, it will be freaking amazing. But not yet.

It’s not the International Day for Landmine Awareness and Assistance. Well, actually it is, but assisting landmines is not why I’m here today. (By the way, I would certainly recommend awareness of all of the locations for all of the land mines. Watch your step).

The reason I am here today is for something much more special.

It’s my friend’s birthday!

More specifically, it’s my writing partner’s birthday!

(And Maya Angelou’s. Still-living reincarnation, anyone?)

Just a bit of background, my writing partner, who I will call JCC of JCCPhotography, is essentially a goddess of complete and pure awesome. She’s a creative genius, absolutely, whether she’s writing fiction, participating in investigative journalism, photographying or doing all of the other amazing things she does. She’s truly excellent at what she does, in every way, bringing haunting but witty stories to life by use of masterful language and very-well-written dialogue.

And I owe her so much.

Let it just be said that I would not be nearly the writer I am if it weren’t for JCC. She’s had so much encouragement and wisdom for me over the years, breathed life and direction into so many stories, and been such an amazing and insightful friend through as many rough spots as smooth. She’s been always waiting just beyond the lifeline, but not nearly far enough to be unreachable, driving me to far better work and endless inspiration.

I’m not going to go on here, because quite frankly we would like to retain ownership of our own lives. We both blog anonymously and we’d like to keep it that way. But I would just like it to be known that today is a very special seventeenth for her, and that she is truly an amazing person who it is an honor to be able to work with.

J, you’re like a sister to me and you’ve given me so much. I hope I can one day repay you. Happy birthday :)

Could anyone take it upon himself or herself to spam her blog with endless birthday wishes? Thanks in advance.

May you remain existential,

Evan

Credit: riccialexis.com

 

New Face

Hello, Blogosphere, and good morning.

So I’ve got a bit of news–I’ve just been accepted to the New England Young Writers’ Conference at Middlebury College, here in the States! Apparently I’m being taken on for a four-day gathering of aspiring authors and successful novelists, to increase my erudition and enlighten me and whatnot.

And that is pertinent because along with a letter of confirmation of intent to attend the thing, I’ve got to submit a one-page piece I’d like to develop into a story while I’m there. I thought I should post it here, for the sake of productivity and doing of the things, so Stephanie, InMonsters and my fellow Young Writers, enjoy. I hope I’m not prohibited from doing this….

Anywhom, here’s this week’s Inspiration Monday response. Not sure if I’ve said it before, but I would strongly urge anybody interested to just try participating in the prompt. It’s an excellent tool for thought and momentum-keeping, as well as an excellent community of writers.

* * * * *

He thought back to last week in the cell, when they asked what he wanted to see for Last Light.

Most guys his age would have asked for a stripper.

He asked for his sister.

It hadn’t seemed real till that point, not really. The Cave was…not a myth exactly, but more of a concept than something tangible. All had heard of it, most had heard the horror stories, and everyone was ubiquitously privy to the warnings of the politicians and the police, the waving it around as a threat to be respected.

Donovan had laughed like the rest, out of the eye of the public, with his friends.

And rightly so–it was a reality, but distant, detached, hard to really believe.

Until it was there, of course.

And it was.

“He can’t hurt you anymore,” Donovan murmured as she pressed herself into him.

“But what about the others? You can’t protect me anymore.”

“Thought I told Dante and Joshua to look after you.”

“What can they do?”

Donovan sighed.

“Exactly,” she said. She pulled herself from him, looking into his eyes. “He’s gone, Don. But the rest will come.”

Donovan stood, pushing her off his lap. He looked down at her, fourteen years of growing-up-too-fast amplified through teary grey eyes. “I know you can make it.”

“One minute,” shouted a guard from the door.

Donovan nodded to him, speaking more quickly now. “I want you to remember, it’s just for two years.”

“If you survive-”

“I will. I’m going to have to.”

“He’ll be down there with you.”

“I know. He can’t touch me. I want you to remember, okay? Keep your head up and your eyes open. Tell the guys to get themselves together and keep you safe.”

She moaned.

“Fifteen seconds.”

“Isa, I’ll be back soon. Okay? Now let me get my Last Light.”

She lifted her head and stared at him, looking into his eyes long and hard. Donovan could see how she wanted to cry harder, to hug him, anything.

“Five.”

But she didn’t.

“Four.”

“I love you.”

“Three.”

“I know.”

“Two.”

“Be safe.”

“One.”

“Come back.”

The flickering lights at the ceiling turned out. The room was plunged into inky darkness.

“I will. I promise.”

Donovan could hear as she backed away, the string of lights appearing before him. “Follow the lights,” the guard barked. And then: “Be safe down there.”

Donovan walked. And he stopped only when he heard the door of the elevator whisper shut behind him.

And he cried.

* * * * *

Leave comments in comments! Please! I need to know how this works in a reader’s mind!

May you remain existential,

Evan

Why I Don’t Give Details On My Novel

Credit: Camp666.com (Satanists, please remember my kind remarks)

 

Hello, Blogosphere, and good morning.

I can’t remember exactly where I heard it, but for a couple years now I’ve written with a certain analogy in my head that I would like to share.

So there’s an aspiring novelist named Ashley. She just finished her first book, AshleyStory. I’m going to leave its quality contingent on its name–you decide. But anyway, Ashley decided to publish the first three chapters of AshleyStory on her blog, inthewordsofanashley.wordpress.com. She figured she can generate a bit of a following with that while she tries to get manuscripts accepted by agents.

But eventually agents start getting back to her, and all she can find is rejections–even from little startups. Eventually Ashley sends an e-mail to one of the agents asking him why he wouldn’t take her on, even though she posted previews and gained a following on her blog.

He responded. Here’s what he said:

“Ashley, you wrote a story, but it only had five chapters. I could see more than half the book online for free. I can’t sell two-fifths of a book.”

End analogy.

See my point?

The entire reasoning for selling a book, or anything else for that matter, is that it provides some sort of gratification that is impossible to come by anywhere else by providing a new experience–here, in the form of a story.

Ashley’s key mistake was that of releasing information on her book, before the book itself was given a chance at existence. Though I chose to use an extreme example to illustrate my point, such actions on a smaller scale can also be rather counterproductive to managing to get an agent, publishing house, or anything really but a money-sucking leech courtesy of PublishAmerica.

And that’s somewhere I see a lot of my fellow blogger-writers headed. I see so many spoilers for the books, so many plotlines, so many people trying to create their book jacket but getting WAY too revealing.

And that scares me.

I’m a person of absolutes, in many ways. That’s just who I am. And that’s why I’ve chosen the route I have–the exact antithesis, in many ways, of the idea of “sharing the book to generate interest”.

Long story short, I don’t want to mess up and say too much. I want to get published. I want to find an agent, one agent in particular. And most of all, I want to have my story.

So short story shorter…I’ll let you know what’s in my book.

The day after it comes out.

And I suggest you do the same.

May you remain existential,

Evan

 

On Whether A Single Literary “Climax” Matters–Probably Part One

Hello, Blogosphere, and good morning.

The story I’ve finished has no climax. Too bad. It doesn’t. There’s a scene I can pinpoint to be the greatest shift in the storyline, but that’s about it.

And I like it that way.

I’m a sucker for the big, final, climactic moments in a story. I’ll admit that. I enjoy seeing the Hero–or better yet, those the Hero cares about–facing down the greatest Evil to be found and triumphing through a bitter but hopeful struggle. That’s all good fun, I agree to that wholeheartedly, but I’ve been wondering recently…does it matter?

Not an attempt at self-aggrandizing, but for the story I’m telling, I don’t really think there’s a need for a climax. Rather than essentially a linear progression defined by stark changes, like that of an action or romance novel, my novel works through flow. And that was intentional, and I’m not saying that one way of doing things is better or worse than the other. But it worked for me, and through such a way of doing things I think I gave a fuller story in terms of what I was trying to tell.

But what I’m wondering today is whether or not that goes for all stories. Does the detective novel have to have that epic-style chase scene where the hero sees the villain for the first time and catches him no matter the cost? Should it?

I’ve tried a couple times to answer that in the writing of this post, but quite frankly I’m a bit stuck.

However, I have the advantage of an excellent, intelligent readership.

So…I’d like to see some comments in comments on your perspective with this, and then perhaps I’ll put a post up on that with more of a ubiquitous than a subjective verdict.

May you remain existential,

Evan

Breathing Lessons

Hello, Blogosphere, and good morning

Here’s a quick piece, inspired by Stephanie’s prompt at BeKindRewrite. On the same storyline as the last two weeks. No aspirations with this one, though. Just want to write it till I’m done.

* * * * *

It were as if she withered in my arms, shrivelled right there down into nothingness. Terrifying for her, I’m sure, all nine years and four feet of her. But I can’t exactly empathize, I suppose. A father faces a different sort of terror.

I looked down at the hole through her stomach, down at the red-soaked knotted ropes inside, and lied to her.

I told her she would be all right.

She would have told me to sing to her, I trust. If the words came out from her shaking lips and strangled gasp. Asked me, I should say. But even if she had, I doubt I could have brought myself to do it.

I remember coming home on that day, after a long hunt of the Hordes. I remember coming home and approaching the camp with my men, seeing the smoke rise up from the opposite side and hearing the far-off screams of their wives and children.

A cruel echo, really, reaching down their necks and rattling their hearts, shaking them to action.
There were two massacres that day, all within the space of a few minutes. The first, the stray Hordeling band ripping into what little home had remained. And the second, the men and I returning the favor.

Their blood flowed through the tents.

Liquid gold.

I remember how I saw her, lying broken on the ground with the blade still in, whimpering and crying.

She was brave. So brave, as Death came for her with loving arms.

My little girl.

And yet I could not save her.

In the end, I could save none of them.

* * * * *

May you remain existential,

Evan