that's me - Stephanie Boman!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Speaking of grass

What's it like on the other side? What really happens to writing-friend relationships when a writer signs with an agent? This is how I imagine it.

Newly Agented Writer (N.A.W.) is blown to smithereens with happiness at good fortune when agent comes a'callin'. After telling every live human within the vicinity, N.A.W. goes online to tell the rest of her world: the writing community she's become a part of (this may include forums, critique groups/partners, and blog friends, etc.). Everyone does the happy dance for joy that one of them has crossed over...proving that yes, it is still possible to be a nobody and get picked up; offering on-the-cuspers around the world hope.

What I would like to know is what transpires after that.

Let me tell you this first: as a nonagented writer and hopeful on-the-cusper I often feel another emotion besides sheer joy when I hear of an acquaintance's success: jealousy. Don't get me wrong - my happiness for that person is genuine - I truly am happy and share in their joy, often tearing up with an overflow of good feelings for them, but there is another side of me that says "Sheesh! When's it going to be my turn?"

I have to admit this extends beyond agent signing - I feel this dual emotion when N.A.W. receives their advances and arcs, finds their write up in the publisher catalog, sees their book put on Amazon and finally holds their published novel. It is not an overwhelming, burning, green-eyed jealousy...more of an, "aw, I wish
I had 300 fans entering contests to win my ARC." If it were me, and I pray fervently that I will have to have to deal with this issue someday, I think going from one of the gang scribbling away and waiting for success to one who has attained it as something that will feel awkward.

Can you be uber-thrilled at your own success and still sympathize with those who are no longer in the same boat as you? Or do you not sympathize so much once you're over the hump?
I know there are individuals who still advocate and sympathize with the cuspers when they could so easily ride off into the published sunset. Sara Zarr seems to be empathetic, but then, maybe seven years of submitting will make you that way. Certainly, one gets to know the pre-agented community better with a long journey than say, someone who gets picked up the first week they send out queries *shoots (benign) daggers of envy*. I certainly wouldn't want published authors to feel guilty for their success...most of them spent their time in the trenches like the rest of us. I also do not wish to stop hearing of their successes, every step of the way - it does give me hope. I just wonder what it does to the dynamics of your relationship with non-agented/published friends. No one should feel obligated to stick around a community they don't feel comfortable in - but surely, the majority of writers had at least one person close to them that was going through the same process and must deal with the evolution that thus ensues.

Now, there is a whole other discussion that has gone on before about being able to vent about the post-agented process, feeling that some may think the person shouldn't whine, but be thankful to have an agent...but this post is long enough, so we won't go into that.
And I don't even want to try to imagine what it would be like to be at Laurie Halse Anderson or Libba Bray status.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Bird's Eye

I'm a POV flip/flopper. When I'm starting a project (and often when I'm well into it, and at least once after I finished one) I have this little battle in my head about what POV to use. I go back and forth on the pros and cons of first and third. Which would make my story stronger, lend to the voice I'm trying to create, and, of course, have the perspective I want the audience to hear the story being told from?

Disclaimer: I have never actually written a whole story in third. I have tried, but I always end up going back to first person.

My reason is the same as most writers - I want the immediacy and intimacy that first person POV allows. But I have to admit that I have third person-phobia. The pros to telling a story in third are many, including a wider perspective - being able to explore things from more than what the MC would perceive, and I like that. But third also creates distance - you are no longer in the MCs head the way you are when the MC is telling the story herself. I am scared of this distance. I love third person when I read it, but to me I feel you have to have incredible talent to tell a story with that distance and still make it riveting and immediate. At least it's something I find hard to do.

I have gone back and forth on what POV Ada, my historical fiction, should be told from. Third lends itself well to historical fiction (although there is something fresh about using first person in historical fiction - since the time period is already a distancing factor, it can be helpful to tell the story in first to get the reader there quickly). I started the story over this way, convinced it was the change that my story needed, committed to rewriting the whole thing that way. A few pages in I found I had slipped back into first unconsciously. I don't know if it's habit, or because the story is just naturally supposed to be told that way.

I'm back to arguing with myself about which is changes every hour. Perhaps I should write a chapter in both and submit it for critiquing.

So tell me, what's your preferred POV, or does it change depending on what you are working on? What are the challenges you find with each? How do you decide which is right for a particular project? Does anyone struggle the way I do?