Thursday, July 22, 2010

Back from Vacations

We landed in Montreal Sunday at noon. We had less trouble with jetlag on the way to France!

I will not give personal details of my vacation here; I'll remain on the subject of my projects.

Going to France, I made an appointment with a friend living there, Jean-Claude Dunyach. He's a writer and was editor. He's also a friend of my mentor Elizabeth Vonarburg. He introduced me to his city, Toulouse and we (my spouse, my daughter and me) was invited to eat at his home. I've never seen a house with so many books inside in my life! And mostly science-fiction and fantasy books! He has so many that he wanted to give away some titles: he has given me nine-volume of fantasy and science fiction, and the six books of his collections of short stories that I had trouble to find in Quebec. All together, they must worth at least $300! It's crazy!

We discussed about writers we know in person and their latest works, the experience of Jean-Claude as publisher in Bragelonne... Among anecdotes, Jean-Claude said that in the field, with the beginning of a project done (detailed plans and say... 100 pages of manuscripts written), it is possible to send to the publisher and to have a publishing contract before the project is finished writing, with (I think) an advance to provide financial support to the author. I don't know if other publishers do this, and most importantly, I wonder if this practice applies to novice writers (never published professionally) like me ... But that makes me dream! =)

Another writer friend who works in the reading committee for the publisher Alire, told me that in Quebec, after four publications, it is possible to ask for a subvention to fund for the next project. As this conversation happened several years ago, I can't remember the details, such as: Does this apply to non-professional editions (fansines, for example, where I have 2 non-professionnal publication)? If we have published four short stories, can we receive this subvention for a novel project? I don't know... We'll see...

Among others things, we also discussed about writing. After several days of writing workshops with Elizabeth, where I had several monumental revelations about writing a story, it was refreshing to have a different opinion on some technical points. And also reassuring, because Elizabeth is so meticulous, precise, perfectionist, and so on, sometimes you may feel that you'll never be able to write a decent text! But we must remember that when Elizabeth publishes a book, she wins all the literary prizes! ;o) My goal is not that high; I'll be happy to be published; the rest will only be extra! ^_^

This reminds me of when Guy Gavriel Kay was the guest of honor at Boreal Congress 2006 (as of now, Kay is one of the authors I most admire).

Kay spoke about "penny dreadful and dime novels". He told us that the 19th century, a novel was worth a dime (which was very expensive at the time and often, only nobles and maybe bourgeois could afford them). These novels had a certain quality. On the other hand, many publications of poorer qualities were sold for a penny, price affordable to most scholars of the time. According to the critique of the time, they were for most of them dreadful.

Both penny dreadful and dime novels relate to stories of popular fiction. The "dime novels", more expensive, were sold in less quantity, but were Art, while the "penny dreadful", cheap, were selling most, without much quality.

Following this story, Kay explained that it is a choice that every writer should do: write for the Art of literature or for massive sell.

Art does not interest necessarily the general public. It might even be misunderstood by the general public and could be appreciated only to a certain elite. These works are more likely to travel through time and to be studied in the history of literature, like the great writers of their times, such as Victor Hugo.

On the other hand, there are works that gives more smoke and mirrors, subjects are more simplistics, less worked sometimes, or maybe naive, but sell well. Things may be changing now, we won't be in the future to say, but from the past, more than... I don't know 99% (?) of them will go a certain time and then sink into oblivion.

So basically, we must choose if we wish to write for literary art, or for sale. And yet, sell... it is a big word! How many writers are living from their writing? I could not even try a percentage, but in Quebec, for sure, they are little... may be more or less 1%.

In short, I think we all aspire, secretly or openly, to make history, but more fundamentally, for the most part, we simply love to write and for that, it takes time... The ideal to maintain our passion, is to make it our livelihood. The sale is inevitable, we need to create a product that sells well, even if sometimes we have to lower the quality because that is what the public demands.

It is too early for me to located in this choice, but as I am a novice at the moment, I do not think I can make great literary art one day ... =P

During the holidays, free from working, I thought a lot about the outline I have in mind. I can not remember if I talked on this blog or on a forum ... Recently, my spouse came across a special article on a subject quite rare... a topic that long ago, I wanted to take as background for this series... but as I lacked documentation, I let the idea aside. The article, really interesting, revived that idea. I went on vacation asking myself if I would put the topic back in the series... which would add so many adventures. Those adventures would also allowed me to graft another series over it, making even more adventures!

Upon reflection, I decided not to put it... well, not in this series! I'll keep the idea for another project later. My thoughts are clearer now. Rather than make a series of too many books, I will separate them. For now, it makes me three distinct series projects. There is a fourth topic that I'm not sure yet if I'll insert it into one of these three, or if I will also put aside as a fourth... We shall see! One series at a time!

I really have to write, because ideas accumulate over time, I don't lose them, I add them up! I have too many books in mind, it's heavy! I must write to clear my head!

And I also have to think about updating my computer graphics skills and look for a job!
(I've started my training on Softimage right this Tuesday; I'm so hooked that it took me everything to put it aside and finalize this post!) ^_^

... And I surprise myself thinking that maybe I'll just work on my writing project (with income)... it is unlikely that it works as well (since I'm not yet known, professional, etc..) and unlikely that it would pay me well (because it is a genre literature, less sold... but also and mainly because I'm in Quebec, where the audience is even smaller) ... but hey, I'm dreaming! =D (and again torn between writting or drawing...) ;o)

1 comment:

  1. A good idea, not to try to cram everything into the one sequence of books. I don't know what the situation is with publishing in Canada, but generally a publisher will give the author an "advance", to be met out of future royalties, when they agree to publish a book. With an established author that might well be on the basis of a synopsis and maybe a few chapters, but probably with a new author they'd be happier to have the whole book in their hands before parting with any cash...