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Two years? - My left eye sees...things. [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
mylefteye

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Two years? [Jun. 5th, 2015|01:47 pm]
mylefteye
I had a random thought today: when did I last update LJ? Turns out it was exactly two years ago, which seemed somwhat serendipitous. Or something. Anyway, I felt like I should write an update. Like, why did I stop updating my LJ?

Hm.

I stopped LJ'ing because I stopped writing. Long time readers will know I was represented by a respected agent in New York. When I signed to him I really thought I'd cleared the biggest hurdle between me and a major publishing deal. Sadly that was not to be. And while I could live with the rejections from publishers, I couldn't get round the fact that this agent and I were not a good fit. I would send drafts of my WIP and his minimal feedback would leave me confused and irritated. Sometimes he'd ask me to rewrite a scene in a specific way, and then, when I subbed the new version, he'd ask why I'd altered it as he liked it just the way it was. Was he taking the piss or what? But then he probably thought the same about me. Clearly we were not on the same wavelength. But, y'know, it took years to land an agent. An agent with big names in his portfolio, names like Robert Jordan and James Ellroy for crying out loud. It's what every smalll-press writer dreams of, right?.I really didn't want to accept that this arrangement wasn't working.

At around the same time (2010/11) I had discouraging dealings with a couple of small-press publishers - one for a novella and another for a collection of short stories. The novella was called 'Lemon Man'. It was dropped by Morrigan Books because of some frankly stupid, contractual bullshit. In fairness, I should add that 'Lemon Man' was later published by Creative Guy Publishing, who were awesome in every respect, and I still feel guilty that I did so little to publicise the book. Proud of 'Lemon Man' as I was, especially with the foreword by the late Graham Joyce, I'm afraid I was already giving up by the time it went out. Sorry, CGP. Meanwhile, the short story collection 'Memory Bones' was published as agreed by Graveside Tales. But they never paid me the agreed fee beyond some unasked-for contributor copies.

So it'd be towards the end of 2011 that I went on a writing sabbatical. A sabbatical that morphed by mid-2012 into the realisation I had given up for good. Blame the agent, blame Morrigan Books, blame Graveside Tales. Those guys managed to suck the last drops of positivity out of me. Except in some ways I felt they'd done me a favour, because it was kind of nice to not have that pressure us writers put on ourselves. The writers among you will know exactly what I mean. Those misgivings you have at the end of a day when you contributed nothing to the WIP. It was when I was no longer having thos emisgivings, when I stopped caring, that I knew the fat lady had sung.

Family and close friends would ask when I would write again. And I would say "Never, unless..." When I sent stuff to my agent, I would get not just his thoughts, but also the detailed feedback of an assistant named Kirsten. Now, Kirsten and I were very much on the same weavelength. She totally got what I was trying to achieve and her feedback was never less than encouraging and insightful. If Kirsten said something was not working, then I knew it was not working. Better still, she would always come up with a solution. And so, on those occasions I was asked when I was gonna write again, I would reply, "Never, unless Kirsten emails me to say, 'Hey, I am now at another agency and want you to be one of my clients!'."

Because I knew I was 100% safe from that ever happening. As clauses went, it was pretty goddamn watertight.

Except it wasn't. In October 2014, pigs flew. I signed to the Waxman-Leavell Literary Agency (I know! You couldn't make this shit up, right?) and for the past few months, under Kirsten's expert guidance, I have given the WIP a good overhaul. 'The Human Zoo' is once again a novel I am proud of. It still needs the all-important nod from Kirsten, but I'm confident that with maybe a little tweaking it's ready to go out to publishers. In the meantime, I have a head full of ideas and several thousand words typed up for Book 2.

And that's it, really. That's why I abandoned LJ and facebook and took two years to come back with this post. Because I was sulking and now I'm not.

     
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: xray_spex
2015-06-05 04:32 pm (UTC)

WB!

Sorry to hear that you had all of those bad experiences, but I'm glad you're back writing and posting!

I tried to come back to LJ a couple of times now, but it's such a sad ghost town. I think of my journal here as an archive now rather than somewhere I interact with anyone. I'm not sure if there is a another comparable, social alternative that is active. Certainly not FB or Twitter. Those are for only writing less than 160 words, posting cat pictures, and clicking a "like" button instead of actually responding to someone with words. Maybe I'll try TUMBLR. I don't know.

Regardless, it's nice you're back! Maybe if more people resurrect their journals here, it will cause a landslide of nostalgic inspiration.
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[User Picture]From: mylefteye
2015-06-05 09:03 pm (UTC)

Re: WB!

Yeah, after I posted today I clicked on 'friends' and was shocked to see just how few people are still active on here. It's a shame as I rated LJ as the best for keeping in proper touch with friends. Though I can hardly complain when I've been away for two years myself, can I?

I don't really get facebook. Maybe it's more for people on-the-go with phones. I'm a bit of a dinosaur in that respect. My phone is just that, a phone. Radical, eh?

My 14-yo daughter is a big fan of TUMBLR and regularly berates me for not signing up. Maybe I will someday.

Anyway, thanks for commenting, on here and facebook. I'll see you around (though I'm not sure where yet!). :)
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From: (Anonymous)
2015-06-05 05:03 pm (UTC)
Mike, so good to read a happy end/beginning to this story. Hope everyone's well and my goodness, Heather must be heading towards all grown up now. Cate x
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[User Picture]From: mylefteye
2015-06-05 09:07 pm (UTC)
We're all good here in sunny SOT, thanks.

Heather's 14, a heavy metal fan and wannabe Goth/Emo. She's too cheerful to really pull off the look, though. :)

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[User Picture]From: musingaloud
2015-06-06 03:35 am (UTC)
You sulker, you! I owe you an email. I've been on this let-things-slide kick lately. It's getting better tho. I'm out of town on vacation right now, but as soon as I get things together, you'll be hearing from me. Come September, I'll be getting half my life back when the younger grandboy starts kindergarten, and then I'll only have them after school a few days a week. This coming week I've got both all day long. Whoa! I'll be on the tired wagon. Anywho, hope you stay back, glad to see you back, and several ppl I know have said they're hoping for an LJ resurgence, so we'll see.
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[User Picture]From: mylefteye
2015-06-06 04:43 pm (UTC)
A resurgence would be cool. We need to drag everybody back from facebook.

Enjoy your vacation. Sounds like you earned it. :)
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[User Picture]From: mylefteye
2015-06-06 04:46 pm (UTC)
Hey Rachel! When I checked my friends feed you were the one person still posting on a regular basis. Rachel Green, LJ stalwart! Are you still on Steam? That's mainly where I've been this past two years. :)
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[User Picture]From: mylefteye
2015-06-07 11:09 am (UTC)
I can't get to grips with Shadows of Mordor. It looks amazing and I usually enjoy stealth and third-person, and yet... I dunno. It didn't seem to play naturally. It felt cumbersome and overly complex. Maybe I just need to give it more time to work its magic on me.

The game that's floated my boat this past year is Dishonored and the two story-related DLCs. I have no hesitation in making it my Favourite Game Ever.
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[User Picture]From: mylefteye
2015-06-07 12:40 pm (UTC)
Really? That's neat! What I loved about it is the sense of freedom - not just in the choices of how to play it, stealth or run 'n' gun or a combination of the two styles - but the freedom to go walking over rooftops, through houses, into tunnels, etc. Too many FPS games won't let you climb over a knee-high wall or make you go on massive detours because, despite being a one-man arsenal, you can't get past a locked door. Also, from my perspective, it was nice to play a stealth game that didn't rely on plunging the player into darkness. (Yes, I'm looking at you, 'Thief'.)

Have you played The Knife of Dunwall and Brigmore Witches? I bloody loved the way Daud's story dovetailed into Corvo's. I don't think I've come across better storytelling in a game.

Feel free to add me on Steam - inspiral (my avatar is the one-eyed major from Hard Reset). I won't be messaging you or anything, I just like to follow friend's progress in games. No problem if you don't want to add me, though. I understand some people don't want Steam becoming something akin to facebook. :)
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[User Picture]From: markdeniz
2015-06-06 06:11 pm (UTC)
Sorry to see I'm one of the three reasons you weren't here and also glad to see you are back. Not that I'm here, as I found this entry due to Facebook, where I have become somewhat embroiled too.

However, it's nice to see the old place again, I might check it out a bit more (he says, optimistically)...
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[User Picture]From: mylefteye
2015-06-06 09:38 pm (UTC)
Ach, no worries. While I was more disappointed with the Lemon Man debacle than I was willing to let on at the time, looking back I can see it was pebbles in a landslide.

As for LJ, I miss the old days when it seemed like everybody was on here. We had a good strong community of writers and artists, you know. I felt like I knew lots of people of a like mind and what they were up to. Facebook is, and I say this without a trace of irony, faceless by comparison.
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