The Incredible Race

Post excerpts from your works in progress and give feedback to your fellow writers.
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J. T. SHEA
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Re: The Incredible Race

Post by J. T. SHEA » June 16th, 2010, 8:44 pm

'You're going to regret this when I become bigger than Dickens, Hemingway, and Christie combined.'

Is that the limit of your ambitions, Username? Agatha Christie sold only two billion copies! Think BIGGER!

And, who are Dickens and Hemingway again?

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Re: The Incredible Race

Post by Username » June 16th, 2010, 10:57 pm

What's that? You don't know who Hemingway is?

Joe Hemingway! One of the most famous novelists of the previous century!

Hemingway's most famous novel "The Old Man And The Bee", about a man who attempts to kill a bee with a rolled up newspaper, misses, and then spends the rest of the day being pursued by the now quite frankly hostile bee (which won't let go of its anger - and quite frankly I don't blame it... if somebody had tried to whack me with a newspaper I think I'd probably hold onto my anger too... especially if the newspaper had been The Times), won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction - so not exactly an unknown novelist, eh?

I remember my English Literature 100 professor saying on the very first day of class: "My dear students... every work of fiction must fall under one of the following three categories: Man vs. Man, Man vs. Nature, or Man vs Himself." I immediately stood from my seat and screamed: "But what about women!"

The point I'm trying to make is that clearly "The Old Man And The Bee" falls under the Man vs. Himself category, as the old man is really battling himself, not the bee. The bee, of course, is just a metaphor (a literary device, if you will) for the way our past mistakes (or failures) will haunt us, and pursue us through life.

And, seriously, you don't know who Mack Dickens is? Author of "Great Expectorations"?

Yeah whatever - I can't even be bothered...

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Re: The Incredible Race

Post by Username » June 16th, 2010, 11:03 pm

And by the way, I've made some preconceived conceptions about some of the individuals posting at this forum - would you guys say, based on what I've written so far, that I'm a male or a female? It's amazing how many people get this wrong.

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Re: The Incredible Race

Post by J. T. SHEA » June 17th, 2010, 9:47 pm

Sounds like THE OLD MAN AND THE BEER, which won the Pilsner Prize for Literature. The committee are now in rehab. And MOBY TICK, also about a guy with an insect problem, this time a huge white slug he couldn't shake off. Lotions and sprays all failed, so he tried a harpoon, which killed the man but not the tick.

GREAT EXPECTORATIONS? Wasn't the British TV satire SPITTING IMAGE based on that book?

Your gender? I guessed male, but I'm not certain and I try to avoid such assumptions. I'm a man, by the way, John T. Shea.

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Re: The Incredible Race

Post by JustineDell » June 29th, 2010, 9:41 pm

Username wrote:What's that? You don't know who Hemingway is?

Joe Hemingway! One of the most famous novelists of the previous century!

Hemingway's most famous novel "The Old Man And The Bee", about a man who attempts to kill a bee with a rolled up newspaper, misses, and then spends the rest of the day being pursued by the now quite frankly hostile bee (which won't let go of its anger - and quite frankly I don't blame it... if somebody had tried to whack me with a newspaper I think I'd probably hold onto my anger too... especially if the newspaper had been The Times), won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction - so not exactly an unknown novelist, eh?

I remember my English Literature 100 professor saying on the very first day of class: "My dear students... every work of fiction must fall under one of the following three categories: Man vs. Man, Man vs. Nature, or Man vs Himself." I immediately stood from my seat and screamed: "But what about women!"

The point I'm trying to make is that clearly "The Old Man And The Bee" falls under the Man vs. Himself category, as the old man is really battling himself, not the bee. The bee, of course, is just a metaphor (a literary device, if you will) for the way our past mistakes (or failures) will haunt us, and pursue us through life.

And, seriously, you don't know who Mack Dickens is? Author of "Great Expectorations"?

Yeah whatever - I can't even be bothered...
I hope, username, that you knew J.T. was joking. Right?

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"Three things in life that, once gone, never return; Time, Words, & Opportunity"

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Re: The Incredible Race

Post by JustineDell » June 29th, 2010, 9:50 pm

Username wrote:And by the way, I've made some preconceived conceptions about some of the individuals posting at this forum - would you guys say, based on what I've written so far, that I'm a male or a female? It's amazing how many people get this wrong.
I don't think about making that distinction either when I'm conversing with the other members of the forums. But since you asked, I will answer. At first, I would have pegged you for a guy. Your reponses to people critiquing your query just smelled of testosterone (my bad if that's mispelled). I'm sorry if you take offense to that statement, but people have given you some encouraging (and truthful) feedback and all I have read in response are blow-offs. I'm sorry if I've taken your responses in the wrong context.

However, after some thinking, I've decided that you are probably female because only women would take such feedback personally and not put it to good use. Trust me, I am one. We are an emotional and hard-headed bunch.

Best of luck on your query and your book!

~JD

http://www.justine-dell.blogspot.com/

"Three things in life that, once gone, never return; Time, Words, & Opportunity"

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Re: The Incredible Race

Post by Username » July 1st, 2010, 2:01 pm

JustineDell wrote: However, after some thinking, I've decided that you are probably female because only women would take such feedback personally and not put it to good use. Trust me, I am one. We are an emotional and hard-headed bunch.
What are you referring to?

Are you referring to the other thread, in which I was trying to put a query letter together? That, I'll admit, was a difficult process (because I couldn't understand what people wanted of me). This thread, on the other had, contains an excerpt of the story itself, and so far only a few people have made comments and suggestions - and I wrote how grateful I was to receive these comments!

J.T.'s comments, in particular, were unbelievably helpful - not only did he not rip my story apart, but he found two faults with the writing, both of which he was dead right about (this person is a great reader, and I suspect that he possess similar creative powers... I wish there were a million J.T.'s around).

But please read the excerpt. I've visited your blog, and if I had one piece of advice for you personally, it would be to slow down a bit. I think that for a writer you're moving too fast at the moment.

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Re: The Incredible Race

Post by J. T. SHEA » July 1st, 2010, 10:42 pm

A million J. T.s!? Fantastic idea, Username! Think what havoc I/We could wreak then! Must look for my DIY cloning kit...

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Re: The Incredible Race

Post by JustineDell » July 2nd, 2010, 7:42 am

Username wrote:
JustineDell wrote: However, after some thinking, I've decided that you are probably female because only women would take such feedback personally and not put it to good use. Trust me, I am one. We are an emotional and hard-headed bunch.
What are you referring to?

Are you referring to the other thread, in which I was trying to put a query letter together? That, I'll admit, was a difficult process (because I couldn't understand what people wanted of me). This thread, on the other had, contains an excerpt of the story itself, and so far only a few people have made comments and suggestions - and I wrote how grateful I was to receive these comments!

But please read the excerpt. I've visited your blog, and if I had one piece of advice for you personally, it would be to slow down a bit. I think that for a writer you're moving too fast at the moment.

Yes, I was referring the query feedback and responses. Trust me when I say I know how hard that process is. When you post your heart on the forums and you get feedback from ten difference people, it’s difficult to decipher. But it’s not difficult to incorporate. We are writers, trying our best to help other writers.

As for my blog, I must say I am very proud of it and the progress I have made as a writer. Speed for me, no matter in what context, comes naturally. I’m not one to sit idly around and wait for something to drop in my lap. Quite the opposite—I’m proactive, and thus far it has suited me well.

Have I made mistakes? Well, haven’t we all? Did I learn from them? Don’t we all? Will I make more? That goes without saying. The fact of the matter is we are all writers. Our journeys will be similar, and yet, dissimilar depending on our choices. Our actions. It is our job to learn, to apply, and most importantly—respect. And of course, keep writing, because that’s what we love.

Some do it for fame, some do it fortune. Some, like me, do it because it’s a passion, a freedom that allows them to be something they could never be. Will I ever be published? That’s debatable. I would like to think so, but it’s not a God given right or guarantee and I know I have a long way to go. But how fast I get there and how many mistakes I make in the process falls squarely on how determined I am to succeed. If I mess up, the blame falls solely on me, and I respect that, too.

Again, best of luck on your journey.

~JD

http://www.justine-dell.blogspot.com/

"Three things in life that, once gone, never return; Time, Words, & Opportunity"

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Re: The Incredible Race

Post by Username » July 2nd, 2010, 9:46 pm

I'm not sure I like the idea of life being a journey?

Life, the way I see it, is just one long laborious thing (and honestly for some people it's not even long... a lot of guys I know didn't even make it past the age of thirty). Far too many people, these days, see the world through the discoloration of their rose-colored glasses, and don't want to acknowledge how solitary, poor, nasty and brutish life is.

All I'm trying to do here is to get through with a minimum amount of fuss - so far, it hasn't worked out too well.

If life is a journey, then I'd like to contact that big Travel Agent in the sky and get a refund. It's like I hopped onboard a passenger flight bound for some tropical destination, and ended up in Ogden, Utah by mistake. Maybe my luggage arrived in the tropics, but I didn't. I don't think that life is a journey at all - it's just a big damned mystery, interspersed with massive amounts of suffering.

So far, the only person who has made any sense about this subject was Marlon Brando, when he said: "You reach the end of your life... and you must think... jesus, what the hell was all that about..."

But you should read my excerpt. You really should.

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Re: The Incredible Race

Post by Username » July 2nd, 2010, 9:49 pm

Also, about speed... what I meant was... in order to speed up... as a writer... you need to learn to slow down.

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Re: The Incredible Race

Post by J. T. SHEA » July 2nd, 2010, 10:16 pm

'...how solitary, poor, nasty and brutish life is.' You sound like a follower of Thomas Hobbes, Username. Are you sure your own glasses aren't mud-colored? I think everyone has a right to be miserable, but not to redistribute that misery to others.

Ogden sounds like an interesting-enough place, according to Wikipedia.

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Re: The Incredible Race

Post by Username » July 3rd, 2010, 1:22 pm

You see, there it is again.

It's this idea that if you're not an optimist then you're a pessimist - how about being a realist?

Man oh man, woe betide the person who has the foresight to look down the road and see that it's troubled, and then announce it to the herd when the herd is in full-on party mode, with their rose colored glasses on! They won't want to hear it. The last thing a person wants to hear when raising a Champagne glass is that the Champagne is about to run dry. Sure, I'm all for being positive - when there's evidence that things might turn out well.

But there's a flip side to that coin. Some people are simply unable to deal with reality, and will lend a false sense of optimism to a hopeless situation - and I don't care for that. I'd rather deal with reality.

I blame Disney for this. They got hold of young kids and brainwashed them into believing that everything will always work out for the better - pure rubbish. And then that awful book "The Power of Positive Thinking" was published, and it just completely ruined everything. Oh god... that book. Does everything have to have a positive spin put on it? How about accepting the fact that life can be nightmarish at times, with no hope of redemption whatsoever - how about being realists for a change!

Then again, denial has kind of worked to my advantage, in a way. I wouldn't have spent all that time teaching myself how to write fiction had I known that it would be almost impossible to get published. If I had known twenty years ago what I know now I would never have put pen to paper. I would have given up before I started.

Denial. It ain't just a river in Africa.

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Re: The Incredible Race

Post by J. T. SHEA » July 3rd, 2010, 4:45 pm

I did not suggest everyone is either an optimist or a pessimist, Username. I am not such a dualist.

This is something of a 'How long is a piece of string?' question, without a definite answer, similar to the 'Am I crazy?' question Nathan often mentions, and the 'Are we in publishing actually too nice?' question in his latest post. I admire both Walt Disney and Dale Carnegie, but treat neither as a guru. I am no Polyanna or Pangloss, but I do not believe reality is necessarily negative. There is indeed ample evidence that things MIGHT turn out well.

Interesting too that you use the life journey metaphor yourself. The road ahead is ALWAYS troubled. Life can indeed be nightmarish at times. But who are 'the herd' and why are you concerned about their attitude? Why do you want to discourage them?

I've been writing rather longer than you, and I've always known publication is very challenging, as is just about every significant thing worth doing in life. Are you certain what you call denial is not really hope? Why do you still write and post here if not in hope of recognition and publication?

Denial a river in Africa? Oh yeah! The one with all the allegories lining its banks and hiding in the shallows.

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Re: The Incredible Race

Post by Username » July 3rd, 2010, 9:41 pm

There's a typo in your last sentence. I think you meant to write alligators, not allegories.

But, wow, what a coincidence that Mr. Bransford, in his blog, linked to James McCarthy's blog, in which Mr. McCarthy briefly pondered the same issue we're now discussing.

Here's what McCarthy wrote:

"Listen, I’ve told people time and again that they’re only going to make it if they keep trying. I just wrote a very positive entry for another blog about how determined you have to be to make it in this business. I do believe that wholeheartedly. But sometimes the numbers sneak into the back of my mind, and I think about how many people will never make it. At the risk of discouraging people who haven’t yet reached their fullest potential, are we encouraging people who will never succeed? Is that fair?"

I mean, how is that any different than what I wrote above? Basically, the guy is saying, let's be realistic for a change. The organizer of the conference told Jim McCarthy 'to be happy' when giving his speech. This exactly what I was talking about - why do we have to put a positive spin on everything? Why can't we just tell it like it is? The organizer of that conference isn't doing any writer a service in attempting to censor Mr. McCarthy - and that's exactly what the organizer was attempting to do.

Also, I find it slightly odd that the blog was written by Jim McCarthy of Dystel-Goderich, a literary agency that has stated publicly, for the record, that they won't accept a submission from an author who has already sent a submission in. That's just plain ridiculous - on so many levels. For starters, it precludes the possibility of DGLM receiving a second submission that's just a hell of a lot better than the first. It also precludes the possibility of DGLM of receiving a submission from a writer who has learned from his or her mistakes.

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