Monday, October 4, 2010
TG just finished a military thriller/mystery that he liked quite a bit. He can't share much about it until the review runs, but it was by an old pro who also writes a lot of non-fiction. The man has a nice style. Here's how one of the chapters begins. (A group of Army men and women are on the beach at night in Mexico. Is there any scenario more fraught with the possibility of danger?)
“Our fire had gone out. A crescent moon barely shown, but starlight paled the beach. The sea rasped. You could feel the hot weather coming by the lingering warmth in the sand. Jerry passed the bottle of tequila.”
The coming hot weather, that bottle of Tequila...you just know that something bad is going to happen. And it does.
Next week TG is headed out to his annual Beach Week with his fellow members of the Squatting Toad Writers Group, who have been mentioned in these pages before. It will surely be the usual bacchanal: writing, arguing, drinking, staggering along the beach at night (cue the bottle of Tequila) watching an entire season of Dexter over six days. But it is also a time of reflection, a time when the aging TG sits on the porch, smokes a few cigars and thinks over his years in the publishing business and ponders that eternal question: “When the hell is it ever going to pay off?” It hasn't so far.
Sure, TG's life sounds glamorous: reading free books day after day; penning quick, biting reviews that can break or make a fellow writer's career; interviewing famous thriller masters -- oh how we laugh and joke -- drinking heavily to ensure a steady flow of ideas (see earlier blog entry on the place of alcohol in the profession); astounding Mrs. Thriller Guy with his clever observations and profundities. And being paid, albeit poorly, for all of the above fun. Yes, it's a heady existence. But, and TG hates to say this, it's beginning to pall.
Truth be told, the publishing business has been in, as TG has mentioned before, a terrible slump. Two of TG's novels, a long one and a short one, remain unsold even though his tireless agent continues to send them out. (Don't forget, Harry Potter was rejected 12 times before some publisher had the glimmer of intelligence it took to take it on.) And recently TG lost a celebrity ghost writing deal that fell apart at the end because of perfidy on the part of the celebrity, unseemly behavior by a pair of agents, words shouted in anger where TG was pronounced, “Not only a terrible writer, but The Worst Writer in the World!” Surely that can't be correct, can it? And the amount of money that eventually went to some other writer (good luck to you, pal, whoever you are) was simply staggering. Yes, TG has had many such deals such as this collapse under him before. But this one was different, somehow; it had the ring of finality. The sound. as one of my writer friends once put it, of the slap of a shovel on the earth of a newly dug grave. See, now TG is so upset he's gone and mixed his metaphors.
SO TG is going to think about it. Maybe he's spent enough time in this scribbling life. Maybe it's time to wash the stench of ink stained words from his arthritic hands. (God, this man can Really Write.) Let's try out the words to see how they might sound.
TG will let you know what he decides.