Monday, June 29, 2009

Insider's View of the Future

Interesting article in the American Journalism Review about the future of journalism--and what young journalists should do to prepare for it.

Interviewee is a senior exec with the New York Times by the name of Marc Frons.

Interviewer and writer is a sharp young journalist by the name of Katherine King. (Full disclosure: Yes, Katie is my daughter. And yes, I'm extremely proud.)

Here's the interview: Forecasting the Future.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Rewrite or Remove

For years, I've been telling clients that "Writing is rewriting." Makes me sound like a reasonable, even-keel, professional writer, doesn't it?

Well, that temperament was put to the test recently when I received a few "notes" on my novel from my outstanding editor at Viking/Penguin, Liz Van Hoose.

Okay, I'll be honest: Seven pages of notes and suggestions.

After I picked myself up off the floor and read the notes carefully, I was struck by the number of "cut or revise" suggestions that reminded me of the internal debates I held while writing the book. My gut would tell me that a certain sentence, or entire scene, didn't quite work. I couldn't say exactly why, but it just didn't feel quite right. Still, I kept it, because I had so impressed myself with my own unique brilliance.

Wrong approach. If your gut is telling you that something sounds contrived, rewrite it or get rid of it. If something sounds out of character for one of your heroes, rewrite it or get rid of it. If the beginning is slow, rewrite it or get rid of it. If the ending is too Hollywood, rewrite it or get rid of it--unless you're writing for Hollywood, of course.

Not easy. But your work almost always benefits from the process.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Beginnings and Endings

No matter how you feel about John Irving's writing, I think you'll find this peek into one author's writing process interesting:

Source: Paper Cuts, A Blog About Books, New York Times

Friday, June 5, 2009

New York Times Update

I hereby rescind my earlier birthday de-invitation to the New York Times, thanks to this.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Next Exciting Step: A Literary Agent!

Today I am thrilled to announce that I now have a literary agent.

But not just any agent: Rebecca Gradinger of the renowned Fletcher & Company. Yesterday morning I met with Rebecca and with Swanna MacNair, who handles the film end of the business. It became immediately obvious that I would be fortunate to be accepted onto their roster of clients.

Here's what I liked most about Rebecca's approach. She talked about my writing career, not just one particular book. She focused less on big advances than on the process of writing the best book possible. She was clear about roles and responsibilities. She had read my book and talked about it in such detail and with such insight that it was obvious she cared deeply about the "project."

In short, she represents everything a writer should look for in an agent.

But I didn't rely on just my impressions. I got in touch with two of her clients, who could not say enough nice things about her. The highest compliment: "She's a writer's agent."

So for the second time in a week, I've hit the jackpot!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Now What?

It has always stuck with me: the final scene of "The Candidate," in which the politician played by Robert Redford realizes his goal of being elected senator. "Now what?" he asks the people who helped make his dream a reality.

It's the question many people have asked me since the results of the ABNA contest:

"So what's your next novel going to be about?"
"Have you started your next novel?"
"When is the next one coming out?"

In other words, "Now what?"

I got the answer yesterday in a nice telephone conversation I had with last year's ABNA winner, Bill Loehfelm, who wrote Fresh Kills and has his second novel, Bloodroot, coming out in September.

He told me to focus on what I know how to do: Write. Enjoy the moment, but start writing. Right away.

And even though he is a Mets fan, I do believe I will follow his advice. Seems like good advice for all writers. Even writers who are Yankees fans.