Yesterday, I got a check in the mail, along with a contract from my publisher and a warm letter from my agent. Today I received an email from the same agent saying that another book I’d submitted had not only been rejected, but was considered by both editor and agent to be… well, the word was… mfmf… (this is the sound of my teeth biting into my fist)… UNSALVAGEABLE. Gaa. This is my world — the milieu of the professional novelist — and welcome to it. That’s like saying welcome to a medieval dungeon, where the food is scarce, the darkness nearly impenetrable, and the silence deafening. Ah, home. That’s why I named this blog “Notes from the Oubliette”. Forget Richard Castle and Jessica Fletcher. They’re characters, not writers. What I want to do here is to write down what it’s really like to write for a living. Honestly, it’s not very different from writing for fun — that’s the best thing about his job — but there are some differences: Unlike TV writers, you have to write all the time, and if you don’t the penalties are severe and far-reaching (Scary music here. We’ll drop this for now) BTW, having never done this blog thing before, I don’t know if I’m doing it right. I mean, I can’t seem to make paragraphs. I thought blogs had paragraphs. I’ve seen them. I just can’t make them. So please bear with me if my first few entries are Scheissola. Anyway, another thing about being a “real” writer is that you don’t get complimented a lot by your associates, the way you do when your audience is, say, other writers in a writing group. Or friends who like you even if they have to read your unfinished novel. Or a business that you pay to publish you. Those people are going to tell you you’re great. They’re going to make you feel like you ought to write your Pulitzer Prize-winning speech RIGHT NOW. Unfortunately, these aren’t the people who make up the publishing industry. These individuals are much more likely to tell you, if only to discourage you from asking for more money, that you’re a moron who might want to find another line of work. A third difference is that you’ve got to be able to focus to an extraordinary degree. I know that sounds like I’m blowing smoke up my own bazonka, but what I mean is that the world you create in a novel has to be your primary residence,at least for the time it takes to write the book. The “real” world becomes something less than real. It’s what I thought of when I saw “The Matrix”. The “real”, quotidian YOU is just a body, breathing and absorbing nutrients and excreting (okay, okay), and paying bills and walking the dog and arguing with the spouse, while the “unreal” you, the Creator, is building this whole other world where wonderful and terrible things happen, and everything ties in with everything else. Where life makes sense. This is at the core of why I write. So that things will make sense in a way they don’t in real life. That’s the main thing I’m hoping for with these Notes from the Oubliette — to let you in on what it feels like to move into this new address, this world that has a title, and set up housekeeping. On a personal note, this is a good time for me to start this, because I’m just beginning a new book. Coincidentally, the “real” me has just literally moved into a new place, too, so my journey is starting off fresh on both counts. For the moment, I’ve got to forget about the book that’s been rejected. If my agent won’t represent it, I’ve got to let it go. Hey, maybe I’ll post it on my website. I mean, it might be worth reading, even if none of my professional cohorts likes it, right? God, you need such a thick skin to keep going. I might have subtitled this entry “Sometimes You Get The Elevator, But The Shaft Does Have A Cozy Familiarity To It”. So… oh, yeah. I don’t have to worry about the book I just got paid for, either (by the way, the title is LEGACY, and it’s being published by Simon & Schuster, probably next spring or summer) until my editor comes to me with changes she wants. (Writers — at least writers who need to eat on a regular basis — do listen to editors, by the way. I’ll write an entry on editors later, but suffice it to say that once they send the money, they get to call the shots. Or at least get listened to. Right now, it’s just me and POISON — that’s what I’m calling the book I’m working on — in the oubliette, growing out of the darkness and the silence like a strange flower with a stem strong enough to climb. Where will it lead? I don’t know, but I hope you come with me on this adventure. Ready? Let’s go.