Killer Stories

Yesterday we talked about George Carlin and training your brain to be your creative partner.  Which got me to thinking about the new novella I’m working on, which starts out bleak and just gets darker and darker. It felt good to write it – not unlike the purgation of negativity I recently attempted on this blog – but it made me wonder: has there ever been a documented case of a writer being killed by the thing they’re writing?

I mean this: if you’re writing something so filled with hope, and your mind is getting more and more trained to find darkness and futility, and in a way it makes you feel good because it’s what you’re looking for…

I don’t mean driven to suicide (so many examples of that). And I don’t mean a Steven King scenario in which the evil character knocks on your door. I mean something else… what if your brain just gave out? Overloaded by the search for darkness?

Hmm. I’m now revising the new novella – again, it’s the bleakest thing I’ve written, by far. I almost can’t imagine reading it again, let alone going through the words, sentence by sentence. Maybe it will only work if I view this as a sort of scientific experiment. Will it be the same process as writing it the first time (which I survived, of course). Better? Worse? What approach will my brain take?


Literary Gatekeepers and “Trends”

Great new interview with highly successful indie author Denise Grover Swank over at Simon Whistler’s Rocking Self Publishing podcast. The interview covers a lot of ground, with the primary focus being Swank’s three-part post Business Plans for Self-Published Authors.

I’m sure there’s a lot of good advice in the business plan, which I haven’t read yet.  I will be interested to see how much of it applies to literary fiction, which comes with its own set of marketing challenges.

One of the interesting parts of the interviews came when she described her early efforts submitting her work to agents. Several of them liked her book but didn’t think they could sell it because the “paranormal trend” was on the decline.

Huh??? Wha???

Photo Credit: Universal Pictures

Hasn’t Steven King been writing paranormal books for forty years? Year after year, book after book – if he and his many counterparts haven’t saturated the market, then who’s to say the market could ever be saturated? How many agents and publishers say, “Eh, there’s no market anymore for [westerns, stories set in outer space, literary erotica, vampire books, Scandinavian mysteries]” and then along comes a writer with a great book that destroys the conventional wisdom.

Luckily, Swank and her readers were able to find one another, in spite of the so-called experts in six-month “trends.”