Why Writers Drink

By Snow Brooks

When I was young, I thought novelists were quirky hermits who lived in log cabins tucked far away from the prying eyes of civilization – pecking out stories on dusty typewriters with only their cups of coffee and a cat to witness. How else could they get all those pages organized into complete stories if they socialized in the modern world?

Besides, I’d never actually met a novelist in person. They were like Big Foot – rumors of a sighting here and there, but never was I lucky enough to lay eyeballs on one. In fact, the first author I met was the one staring back at me in the mirror when I completed my first novel.

As I studied that reflection, I realized I didn’t fit the bill for my idea of a novelist. As a family practitioner working full-time with 3 lively daughters and a distracting husband who could make me laugh with a glance, I didn’t exactly ooze author. There was no hermit lifestyle. No cats. No typewriter. No log cabin… dammit. But I did guzzle a mean cup of coffee.

So how did I morph into this mythological creature I call a writer? Oh, it was simple. I woke up one morning, hands on hips, and said, “I’m gonna be a novelist!” That’s how we all made our grand debut in the literary world, right?

Okay, maybe it didn’t happen exactly like that. The truth is I awakened one morning and thought, that dream was so nutty, I gotta write it down.

I mean I’d had some crazy dreams before, but this one took the cake! It was one of those goes-on-all-night sorts with crisp imagery and lengthy conversations. In a fit of inspiration, I got out a pencil (tool we used before texting kids) and I wrote it all on a sheet of notebook paper.

After a few pages I noticed I was, how should I say, embellishing some of the details to help the story flow from one scene to the next. It was all just for shits and giggles until I became hooked. Sigh. More like obsessed! The little dream turned into a 90,000 word novel in a few months.

When I finished editing, I tucked the manuscript in a drawer, smacked my hands clean, and marched off without another thought. You see, I didn’t write it with the intention of having it published. I had a job. I wrote it because it was a fascinating story that I didn’t want to forget.

The real problem began a few weeks after I finished the damn thing. When I went about my daily routine, I missed the writing. Rather, I grieved it. Seriously.

The joy of being immersed in a world of my own creation, one that I could control with some wild imagination and keystrokes was like discovering I’d sprouted wings and could fly. I wanted it back and I missed the characters who’d become a part of my life in those months. It was then I understood why writers write – it’s a bloody blast!

After completing my 3rd novel, my friends and family started asking if and when I planned to publish the books. Apparently, writing novels for my own pleasure without publishing is like baking wedding cakes and not sharing them with the wedding parties. The scandal! To appease them, I researched the process of publishing and soon learned why writers drink.

If you’re new to the process of query letters, synopses, literary agents, and waiting weeks for replies, let me tell you – it would drive St. Peter to the bottle! One month in and I popped my first cork of red wine. Hell, I may even start feeding the stray cat scratching at my door.

Synopsis: The Bane of an Author’s Existence

By Snow Brooks

Nothing sends us writers to the brink of unbridled insanity like the universally loathed novel synopsis. I could more easily squeeze my motherly hips into the size 6 jeans still hanging in my closet (I refuse to give up the dream), than condense an 80,000 word novel into a tiny 1 page package.

Yes, it’s difficult and laborious work, resulting in many colorful profanities along the way. But an impossible feat? No. It’s just not our idea of a good time. We’d rather spend our days creating intriguing characters and losing ourselves in our own little creative worlds.

That being said, synopsis writing is a necessary evil in the path to publishing. If you’re seeking representation by a literary agent, mastering the art of summarizing your work into 1 to 8 pages (depending on the agent’s requirements) is crucial.

Unfortunately, there’s a lot of confusion among authors on which approach to take when writing a synopsis. Generally, it’s recommended that you have both a short and long version of your synopsis available for submission. As literary agents become busier, they want to read more concise synopses that convey the points of the story quickly.

For some helpful tips on writing a synopsis see http://www.writersdigest.com/writing-articles/by-writing-goal/get-published-sell-my-work/your-guide-to-an-effective-novel-synopsis

Schrödinger’s Novel: Both Best-Seller and Slush-pile Dweller

      By Snow Brooks

There’s something alluring about holding a stack of manuscripts in ambivalent purgatory, stashing them in a drawer, and strolling away with a devious grin. Locked and unseen, my novels hover between the possibilities of living literary masterpieces or lifeless sewage. That’s the charm of uncertainty. I’ve got a best-seller in my drawer! Well, sort of, according to Schrödinger and his furry friend.

Like Schrödinger’s cat, my darlings exist in a state of quantum superposition until I open the box and a literary agent observes one. Is it dead? Is it alive? Part of me doesn’t want to know. Only a nefarious, mustache-twirling literary agent and his rejection letter can quash the hope uncertainty allows.

It wasn’t until I completed my third manuscript that my box of Schrödinger novels became too tempting to leave unopened. I admit it – curiosity got the better of me (yes, I know what that did to the cat). But seriously, what’s in the box? And thus began the delightful process of hunting down the ideal mustache-twirler to query.

The first thing I noticed in my search for said rascal was that locating an agent who is actively seeking romantic-suspense fiction with emphasis on suspense is like searching for life on another planet. When I finally located one in the agency universe, it felt like I’d stumbled upon a news-worthy discovery. Hear me CNN?

Then began the charming task of writing a synopsis, which is rather like fitting a hundred clowns into a Prius. And don’t forget the query letter with biography! A true delight for an unpublished author – up there with plunging needles into my retina. But, I did it. Clown-stuffing, needles, and all!

So now, I wait. Likely, for my first form rejection letter from Mr. Mustache that I will proudly frame and display as initiation to the Thick-Skinned Writer’s Club. Will I give up? Even if my walls become filled with “Sorry but” and “I’m afraid” letters? Nope. I’m tenacious and I have mustache clippers!