Monday, January 15, 2007

Damn! I'm inspired!

People sometimes complain about the challenges of the slush pile. Today, Mark Terry blogged about the difficulty in catching an agent's or editor's eye today. Sometimes this is amidst of complaints about the business, and sometimes not. While I hear the frustration and how discouraging this business can be, I'd like to an alternative interpretation.

The state and existence of the slush pile can drive our writing and our genres to a higher level.

The other day, I noticed that Robert Gregory Browne's release is in a couple weeks. I was trying to figure out if I was going to get it right away or get it on my next Borders Rewards Day, so I went and read his excerpt.

Wow. Tight. Rhythmically perfect. Not just from word to word or sentence to sentence, but the overall pacing of the conflict over the first 14 or so pages. (That's all that's in his excerpt.)

Top that off with a kick-ass concept, and you've got magic.

And only a few days--weeks?--ago, I was blown away by the vivid world-building of Marcus Sakey, with his perfect details in the excerpt of The Blade Itself. (I finally made them dig his book up in the back! I'm sure I'm going to be blogging about it!)

Last year, I popped by and read Marc Lecard's excerpt from Vinnie's Head. What voice! It's quirky fiction with a capital F. In our seemingly recent quest for realism in novels, I miss those Fiction novels.

(Note to self: "they" are right when they say one needs a website up as SOON as the deal is announced, or at least within weeks. And second note to self: have an excerpt up.) Only three killer authors have excerpts up!

Look what these talented folks are doing for the thriller genre! The competition and the difficulty in breaking into the market has pushed the standards up quite a bit. An established author doesn't need to outdo himself quite as much as a newbie; a new author, in order to get published, almost needs to be better than what's come before.

As I've always contended, we need each other to push each other to higher and higher levels. An author alone can only improve himself so much.

Speaking of an author alone, there's a great (albeit loooong) article in The Guardian, Fail Better, about (among other things) how readers are every bit as responsible as writers for making great literature. Great article!

When I first saw Killer Year, I thought, what a nice idea. What a nice idea for these new authors to be mentored by these great writers. What a nice idea for them to get together and blog.

But these authors--these Killer Authors--they're really pushing the thriller genre to the next level. They're breaking the four minute mile.

I am so very inspired. I feel grateful for the amazing standards and the difficulty in getting into and staying in this business. It's definitely making me a better writer! Now let's just pray it makes us all good enough to write great books!

7 bonus scribbles:

spyscribbler 1/15/2007 09:43:00 PM  

LOLOL ... I just deleted a comment! It was the first comment I've ever deleted, and I deleted it because it was one REALLY long comment, posted about 2 seconds after I published my entry.

I'm going to assume it's spam and leave it at that, LOL. :-)

Erik Ivan James 1/16/2007 07:43:00 AM  

Great post, Spyscribbler. Even though you say otherwise at times, my perception of you is that you "stay inspired".

Thanks for the link on your last post. Appreciated!

Karen Olson 1/16/2007 12:06:00 PM  

I admire the Killer Year authors for their ingenuity in bringing attention to themselves. There is strength in numbers, and this will most likely pay off in reviews for all of them, both in print and online.

I'd like to think, though, that every writer is always trying to push the envelope and write better books. Even established writers. I know that while I've got two books out and two more on the way, it doesn't get easier, it actually gets harder because I want to keep challenging myself.

It's great to have a super debut, but it's the books that follow that will show if an author has staying power and the ability to keep raising the bar.

spyscribbler 1/16/2007 02:49:00 PM  

Erik, in my day job, I'm grateful to have daily proof that we humans can do what we don't think we can. I'm also reminded that we're our own worst enemies and set our own often ridiculous and too-short limitations.

I definitely have my doubting days, but I try to rally (or yell, or growl) at myself until I push past it anyway, LOL.

spyscribbler 1/16/2007 03:06:00 PM  

Of course, Karen! My experience, though, is that big, established authors don't have the do or die pressure to push beyond their limitations that other authors have.

One of the things I admire most about Nora Roberts is her constant pushing from book to book. She's never settled and never stopped striving. Offhand, I can't think of another author whose first writings and latest writings are of such drastically different quality. Even her latest trilogy is proof of that (haven't read it all, yet, though).

Yes, you're right ... only time will tell whether these authors will continue to write the same, or whether they will push even further.

Therese: 1/16/2007 04:18:00 PM  

What a thoughtful post.

Not that I had any doubt before, but this shows how prepared you are for your future success. Keep pushing, 'cause you're going to get there!

I'm at work on my second novel--second that will be published, but fourth in my life--and I'm feeling that pressure to outdo my previous efforts.

The great thing is, readers also benefit when authors do this.

spyscribbler 1/16/2007 04:28:00 PM  

Wow, Therese, thank you. I'll keep pushing, I promise!

"The great thing is, readers also benefit when authors do this."

Great point! Leave it to me to forget the point of all this, LOLOL. :-)