Friday, April 5, 2013

Quarterly Update?

It's been quite a while since I checked in here, but all of my writing-energy has been going into Lord Foxbridge Butts In.  I've been slogging along pretty steadily, finishing up the third chapter begun during NaNoWriMo, and adding a fourth chapter and an epilogue.  Once I completed the epilogue, the little red button popped up and I felt the thing was Done with a capital D.

So what do you do with a Done with a capital D novel?  You revise, of course!  I printed it out and found a dozen or so typos, and some clunky sentences, and some unclear passages, which I then spent the following couple of weeks doctoring.  It's funny how you can see things on paper that you can't see on a computer screen. I made three front-to-end passes at minor revisions; at the third pass, I got a feeling that if I didn't stop there, I'd fuck it was an instinct, and only time will tell if the instinct was correct.

Since I couldn't fiddle with it any longer, I had to ponder next steps: I knew I wanted a paper book this time, not just an electronic publication (though there will of course be a Kindle once I have the book); so do I self-publish, or do I hunt up a publisher?  I took some advice from friends and family on FaceBook, and got a lot of great responses, the bulk of which was to submit to a publisher or two first, and if that doesn't get me anywhere, go ahead and self-publish.

Which then leaves one with the question of which publisher?  And should I try to get an agent first?  I looked at a lot of the agencies that seem to specialize in gay fiction, and discovered that they are all looking for "fresh new voices," styles that have never been tried before, what I consider avant-garde sort of stuff.  Since Lord Foxbridge is a redux of a style long dead, I didn't think any of them would really be interested.  Besides, a novel such as this would most likely end up being handled by a small house, anyway, and small houses don't really need agents.

So focusing on the small publishers who specialize in gay and lesbian fiction, I made a short list and started investigating them.  Most of the places I found were only actively seeking romance novels and erotica; and though my novel has some romance and some minor eroticism, that's really not the focus or the point.  I narrowed my search down to two houses, one of which published a friend's novel, and one of which was local.

I went with the local one first, Cleis Press, again largely due to instinct: I got a warm fuzzy feeling looking over their website.  Also, they published two series that had a certain influence on my creation of Lord Foxbridge: James Lear's Mitch Mitchell series and Mabel Maney's Nancy Clue series, both of which harken back to either the time of which I'm writing (the 20s and 30s) or the language of a long-gone writing style (the fulsome simplicity of the Nancy Drew stories), and which combine humor and homoeroticism with good old-fashioned mysteries.

But now I'm in the waiting pattern: the publishers are in receipt of my manuscript, but with a small house, a yea/nay response can take a while.  And it's considered bad form to submit to multiple small houses at once.  But the excitement attendant on having done something so decisive as to submit a manuscript to a publisher has carried me through the last week.  I'm doing that hope-for-the-best-but-brace-for-the-worst thing that is so much harder to do than it sounds like (and it sounds pretty hard).

Since I can't do any more to LFBI, I am starting to cogitate on the next installment in the series.  This will be a nice tidy country-house mystery, which will take place at Foxbridge Castle in the autumn of 1927.  The chief character introduced in the epilogue of LFBI, Mr. Silenus (AKA Lord Arthur Longueville) will be a major player in this second novel, as well as Sebastian's developing romantic relationship with Twister (Sir Oliver Paget), and his developing social/semierotic relationship with Caro (Lady Caroline Chatroy).  I'm going to have to come up with some more characters as well, since Sebastian only met ten people in the first novel who could possibly carry through to the second, and ten people just isn't enough for a proper house-party mystery.

We'll also be learning a great deal more about Sebastian's family, particularly Aunt Emily and Nanny, as well as his late mother and his distant father... as is usual for me, the mystery will be a scaffolding for a story about relationships and growing up. But at the moment, I am stuck for that spark of inspiration from which a story starts to grow; I have the house pretty much laid out, and that's not inspiring me, nor are the characters themselves.  I need a vision, a compelling parthenogenesis of an idea, to move me forward.

So that's what's going on with my writing.  The other major player in my life is, of course, my depression.  After several months of really severe depressive episodes interspersed with mild depressive episodes and the brief and rare hypomanic episode, I have finally changed one of my medications, and it has already caused an immense improvement: I've switched out my Zoloft for Lexapro, and the difference has been dramatic.  Over the last month, I've experienced a total of two days of feeling down, and only about twenty minutes of suicidal/sobbing depression--and even then, only after having slept poorly. 

And while I have been kind of extra-grouchy, without being depressed, I think that might be attributable to a side-effect of the new medication that is affecting my sexual function.  New medications often have such an effect, to which I eventually adapt, so I'm not too worried about it; but being really horny yet not feeling like doing much of anything about it does make one a bit edgy.

I've also started using a new NSAID pain reliever for my joint pain (nabumetone), and it has made a difference as well.  I'm still experiencing the joint-pain, which seems to be more stress-related than depression-related (at least lately), but I have whole days where I don't hurt at all.

The stress thing is my main issue right now, and it's almost all from work.  My office manager and office-mate is on leave for six weeks, our program manager resigned, and our front-desk intern was reassigned: so I find myself wearing a lot of hats without very much in the way of backup.  And while that is somewhat stressful, it's not really the basis of the bulk of my stress: that seems to be based in the simple fact that I feel I cannot under any circumstances call in sick.  Of course, I can call in sick, there are other backups, but the feeling that I can't weighs heavily on me.

This week I've had a lot more backup, people from other sites are coming in for two days a week, one who is expert at a huge facet of my office-manager's job (all dealings with Accounting, which are terrifically baroque as non-profit finances always are), and one who is experienced with the admin/clerical side of things who is helping me stay on top of my filing and data entry.  Knowing that there is backup available in case I do get sick will, I hope, prevent a lot of sick-making stress.

And that is pretty much all that's going on with me.  Seems like a lot, now I write it down, so it's no wonder I'm so tired.  Until we meet again, don't take any wooden igloos.

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