Monday, August 8, 2011

When to Change Your Mind

So, my newest book. Every time I opened the filed, it moaned. Like some kind of pissed off ghost. And it had good reason to be so indignant. It was a hot mess.

Okay, is.

And so I got notes from my agent and I started the process of Ghostbusting the shit out of it. Came up with an entirely new premise and reworked the first 50 pages until they were something completely different. Something that seemed to move quickly while not sacrificing voice or the characters or any of the other things I really care about.

I care about plot. I do. Don't make me cut you.

Anyway, I came to LA for this conference, but I was really coming to carve out some writing time. I had visions of being sequestered in my room, typing away like mad. But a funny thing happened when I got to the hotel: I just couldn't open up the file and get to work. Sure, I sat in the lobby with my laptop open and my fingers on the keys, but nothing really happened. It all seemed flat, like I was just jumping from plot point to plot point.

It was dead to me.

Now, I love this book. I love the characters and the journey and how sometimes blind faith and love have the power to fundamentally define you. But even though that's what the book was about, there was so much noise. So many pieces of furniture being moved around. I needed to scream.

And then I met with my agent. Right before the meeting I told a friend: "I hope he doesn't want to talk about the book." And of course he wanted to talk about the book. What else is there to talk about, right? As we talked, I got some great advice. Stuff I desperately needed to hear. But in the process of this meeting, I did something unexpected. I took off my pants, jumped up on the bar and started yelling.... No.Wait. Different night.


So Michael and I are sitting there and I - again, unexpectedly - am all, "Hey, at some point I want to pitch a book idea to you." We'd been talking about something and it kicked to life this kernel of an idea I'd had for a few months. And so he's like, "Tell me now!" And I'm all, "Really?!" And then he said, "OF COURSE!"

It was very dramatic.

But the point.  The point is: he liked it. I think he liked it a good deal. And I hate to say this was shocking to me, but it was.  And so of course I said, "So, could I, you know, writethisoneinsteadofthecrazyassbook?"

And he said yes. If I wanted to write it, I could.

Boom. That's the sound of my mind being blown.

Listen, I know it's probably something I should've realized - that I didn't have to be tied to this particular book forever.  It's probably obvious that I could start something new if this book was sucking every bit of my life away. But I am a committed guy. I'm good at making things work.

It's hard to step away from something that's consumed a year of my life and, honestly, I'm not sure that I'm going to step away from it. But I have the option. I wrote the synopsis and it sparked something inside me, something I've been looking for. That passion, that excitement. The place where opening up my laptop feels like it did years ago when I was writing simply because I loved it.

I still love it. And I don't know which direction I'm headed, but sometimes it's just nice to know that you have a choice.


  1. Sounds like you will be on a roll. Go for it.

  2. C'mon, baby don't stop now, don't stop till you get enough,

  3. C'mon, baby don't stop now...

  4. Awesome and brave--some good writing's ahead of you now. :)

  5. This is cool, Bliss. Let me know if you decide to work on this new project, and I shall make my 'plot guru'-ness available to you at any hour of the night or day.

    Also, have I told you that you're a rock star?

  6. Bryan, this is a great testament to the fact that agent/writer relationships are also a partnership.

    Cool post.

    You're too humble.

  7. So, the book I'm working on now is a hot mess. We're talking Lindsay-Lohan-Jesus-Christ-put-some-pants-on-and-sober-up kinda hot mess. I worked on it, between revision sessions with another book, for the entirety of last year. And then I was burnt out. The book had turned into Andy Dick, urinating in the corner of an S & M bar while the paparazzi submitted pictures to TMZ.

    I just couldn't handle that book's sh*t anymore.

    So, I took a break. I got an AWESOME new idea. I grew the idea, learned about the characters, spent a few months with it, and wrote a few scenes.

    And then that Lindsay Lohan b*tch of a manuscript started calling again. She was all "Look. I'll be good this time. You'll see. Come back. It'll be different. *I'LL* be different."

    Like a sucker, I went back to her. And believe it or not, she IS different. She's still a hot mess, only more manageable now. Her off-the-hook binges have subsided dramatically.

    So, I guess what I'm saying is sometimes breaks are good. It doesn't mean you have to give up that difficult manuscript. Sometimes, a break is what you NEED. You gotta show that manuscript who's BOSS.

    Jesus, lookit that. I wrote a blog post in a comment. NICE.