Why White Screen of Despair?
Because it's a close relative of the Blue Screen of Death. That only crashes your computer. The White Screen of Despair is what every writer goes through when they sit down and wait for inspiration to strike.
If you're a writer, you'll know what I mean. Sometimes, you just sit there, you make some coffee, watch some tv, feel guilty about that, come back to your writing machine and sit there. Maybe you even write something from time to time, just to see if inspiration will strike. Because if you really are a writer, you know it will - if not now, soon.
Personally, the thing I find works for me is, sometimes, writing notes to get my thoughts clear. Which is why it occurred to me keeping a blog might not be a bad idea (apart from stroking what some people might call an insanely huge ego ... all right, all right, but everybody's keeping blogs these days, so why not me?)
I have a more specific reason for keeping this diary. I am attempting to sell my first novel. The novel is called Angel Stations, and is a work of science fiction. I have the advantage of having a literary agency working for me, and there is, at the very least, a slim chance a Big Publisher might just take the thing. If it did sell, it would be nice to have this to look back at, and see what was going through my mind at the time, and at the same time act as a sort of central loci for whatever inspiration or ideas I might be seeking while I work on the next one.
Some personal info: My name is G.M. Gibson (sort of sounds authorly, doesn't it? I had the idea that if I ever wrote a mystery/crime novel, I'd use something like G. Macintyre Gibson, which has a certain bourbon-and-bullets ambience to it.) I've published a couple of stories in paying markets over the years, in Skeleton Crew (March 1990), Interzone (March 1994), and a couple of other places over the years. In '97, I was unemployed for six months, and decided to fulfill my longheld personal ambition to sit down and write a novel. That was called Touched by an Angel, based on the story of the same name that had appeared a few years before in Interzone. I'm quite proud to say that that same story got picked as one of the best stories of the year by Locus Magazine, and made it as far as an Honourable Mention in Dozois' Best SF of the year anthology. Okay, yes, not as good as actually being in it, but nice all the same.
Some people seem to see getting an agent as difficult, but I got one on the second try. That was a few years ago. After the novel, I did a year studying computer science. Bad move. I gave up two-thirds of the way through and went to Berlin for the summer. Then I went to work for Borders Books for a year and a half. Even bigger mistake. Remember; Borders is not a bookshop, it is a supermarket that sells whatever its shareholders regard as a consumable product with an acceptable profit level. In the case of Borders, that happens to be books. If you want to work in a real bookshop, find a small, impoverished one where you actually get to have proper conversations with the customers.
Then I went freelance doing graphic design, and finally - just over a year ago - started thinking about doing things that actually matter to me, like writing books. One year later, I have a 140,000 word novel manuscript called Angel Stations, related to the first novel. It's my intention, amongst other things, to record here what happens to that manuscript, and what happens as I attempt to write another book.
The current status is that the new manuscript is with a Big Publisher who are interested enough in the first couple of chapters to see the rest. Two weeks ago I sent the complete manuscript to my agent (in case you're wondering, she represents a lot of published authors, including some names who are pretty well known in the field of horror). Now all I can do is sit back and wait for what they have to say.
Now. Assuming they don't just say thanks, but maybe next time, then the very least I might have to do is rewrite parts of Angel Stations, or cut it down to a certain length - it is pretty long. I can only trust my agent when she emailed me to say that she 'loved the book'. Considering some of the people she agents, this makes me breathe easy. Or they might require more substantial rewrites. If they're interested in the book at all.
I think I'll probably write a fair bit about the other novel I'm trying to work on in the meantime. It's provisionally titled Against Gravity, and is more of a relatively-near-future thriller involving the construction of a near-Earth orbital colony. Perhaps not the most original of idea, but what I like to think distinguishes this is that this time, I have A Theme. Yes, A Theme. The kind of Theme you like to think you can come up with, and then merely use fiction as a tool to express your Considered Ideas to the world at large. If only it were that easy. Usually, most of us, including me, we have a Cool Idea and write a neat adventure story around it. I'm sort of hoping that the fact that I have A Theme this time suggests I'm sort of turning into more of a real writer ...