Friday, November 4, 2011

No Really, I Wrote a Novel

Incredible, how time folds in on itself - it's been over a year since I posted a blog.  After the last post about the show I did in Birmingham, I made the decision to take a year off of music and I actually did for the most part.  I had to.  I had worked myself into a corner, entrapped by my own cynicism and bitterness about the music industry and the whole quandary of what it means to be a successful artist - a phrase I was convinced to be an oxymoron.

It was a liberating thing to set it down for a while and to suddenly see an open landscape in front of me.  After a couple of months, I realized there was something in the back of my mind that I had always wanted to do but was too afraid to try.  So I bought a gun, a bottle of Jack Daniels and I went down to the race track...kidding.  I wanted to write a book.  I really didn't think I could stay the course.  I've written all my life, but mostly in the form of a four minute song - a 100,000 word novel is quite a departure.  But I did it.  

I gave myself a year to complete the book.  I started at the end of January and finished at the end of June writing for an hour in the morning before work, an hour during lunch and whatever I could cram in on the weekends between family activities.  I didn't tell anyone around me for a while, dreading the to-be-expected chuckle or eye-roll.  "So, you're writing a novel... riiiiight." I wanted to be sure the bridge could hold my weight before I let anyone else know I was walking out over a new creative chasm.

I have to say it was an awesome ride - a catharsis.  Every time I sat down to write, I completely fell into the story and became the characters.  Like reading a good book, I didn't want it to end.  A lot of that, I believe was the freedom of space - the opportunity to explore depths you just cannot go to in a song.  Since then I've made two editing passes through the manuscript and had a number of friendly readers as well as a couple of critical ones.  So far no one's given me that face - the one with the squinty eyes as if there's the smell of something dead.  I take that as an encouraging sign.

So now, I'm learning the ropes of what it takes to get a book published.  It turns out selling is about the same whether it's wrapping paper, songs, books or software.  I've written a lot of query letters to agents and accepted the obligatory gauntlet of form rejections back, but I've had a couple of requests to read my book which makes me hopeful.  Of the army of literary agents I've researched in recent months, Chris Parris-Lamb is one that stands out as a guy who might really get my book. However it works out, I did the fun part - the part that keeps me going. The rest is gravy.

The working title is WINDY GAP BREAKDOWN.  I'll post an excerpt soon.  In the meantime, I'm playing music again.  I recorded and released a new single Two Shadows and I'm planning my next book.