I found a couple new writer blogs of interest, you might want to check out. Nalo Hopkinson and John Shirley. I loved Shirley's stories in the early issues of Interzone in the early '80's - sort of the genre equivalent to Joe Strummer, I guess. Though I really hope John works out the art of separating paragraphs with whatever blog engine he's using.
I'm a little ways into the fourth draft now. This has been a hard book to write, harder, certainly, than the first - and for all the usual reasons that afflict writers working on their second book when they're actually under contract to deliver the goods. When you're writing a book and you've got no idea if you're ever going to get a book deal, you don't feel under pressure. Your only boss is yourself. If it's not right, they won't buy it. Simple.
But then you do sell that book, and they want another to go with it. Fine. You write another. Not so hard, if the second uses the same characters and situation (mine doesn't). But then you hear the voice in your head. Sure, they liked the first one, but what will they think of the second? You imagine the worst, you imagine the best. You're the worst person to judge, because you're the one who wrote the thing. It's like being the actor who throws up every time he or she's about to go on stage. You have to go out there and impress. Scary. But that's all part of the business, and it's still a lot better than a lot of other things I could be doing with my life - which is why I became a writer.
One thing I saw on tv that particularly impressed me was a documentary on the author Lemony Snicket on BBC2. The presenter pretty much nailed the guy down when he described him as a 'cross between a children's entertainer and a malevolent, overgrown schoolboy'. He's the author of a series of children's books called 'A Series of Unfortunate Events'. During his readings, he likes to play an enormous accordion and sing songs with titles like 'Run Away Screaming or Die'. When he's signing books, he likes to lean forward and ask children 'are you a spy?' or to blink twice for no, once for yes, if their stepmother is evil or not.
What's important about this isn't the obvious fact that he's a highly eccentric individual as much in love with the idea of being a writer and the attendant mystery, particularly from a child's point of view. What's important is the man's genius for self-promotion. I've met some people with a genius for self-promotion. One is an amateur astronomer from Glasgow, who's also a science fiction writer. His ability to get himself in the newspapers or press can at times be astonishing. Similarly, I once did design work for a quite, quite mad woman who was literally obsessed with vampires. She, also, has a genius for self-promotion.
People with good promotion skills get noticed. When I was watching Lemony (obviously not his real name, but I can't remember what his real name is), I sat there thinking, how could I possibly make it that interesting, to be at the launch of my book? My mind was blank, and in the end my book launch will be of the traditional variety. Perhaps this is best, as these things can take practice. I look forward to my first reading with a mixture of anticipation and absolute despair. I've been to a few launches, and they all generally went pretty well. I'm sure mine will be the same. Still, I can't avoid the associated nerves.
Hmm. Just had a thought. My self-promotion clock appears to be ticking finally, somewhere in my brain.