Fiction Fragment Friday

I never imaged I would write a sequel to Pitch Meeting, but it seemed the perfect way to work through some thoughts I was having. I have been reading Ray Bradbury’s Zen in the Art of Writing. It is a book collecting essays he wrote about writing, what it meant to him, and where his inspirations came from. The book has been really speaking to me and reminding me what I enjoy about writing.

Since the author in Pitch Meeting is already a veiled version of myself and a way to express my own writing insecurities he seemed to be the perfect way to explore my realizations. I write to see where a story goes or to explore how I really feel about concepts. That is something I forget at times. When a story works and really flows there is nothing quite like it.

                “That’s great Jimmy.  So how does it end?”  I had just finished pitching the next book in my Benjamin Everhart urban fantasy series and I could hear the excitement in my agent’s voice.  After my last novel was a critical flop and I had tried to pitch him a book about a necromancer fashion designer I really couldn’t blame him for being excited. 

                “Oh, that’s the best part Evan.  I have no idea.”  I shrugged my shoulders and held my hands up, but I couldn’t keep the smile off my face.  He on the other hand was not smiling.  This time I had given in and flown out to meet with him in person.  I had been putting him off too long and I really did owe him for everything he had done over the years. 

                “You have no idea?”

                “None whatsoever.”

                “How in the world is that a good thing?  You’ve been pushing this book off for years now leaving your fans frustrated and you have no idea how it is going to end?”  Evan Brooks prided himself on being in control of his emotions.  The man could keep his tone neutral in situations that would have me screaming.  Over the past few years though I think I had really pushed that control to its limit and looking at me in the face he couldn’t keep from raising his voice.  I watched his expression return to something more composed before he continued.  “Ok James please explain why that is the best part.”

                He called me James instead of Jimmy.  That was not a good sign.  I had planned on having a bit of fun with the conversation, but that made me rethink my entire approach.  “It’s the best part because I’m excited to find out.  I’m already twenty thousand words into my first draft and it is just flowing.”  I had been dreading this novel because I had written myself into a corner and self-doubt had me questioning if I was capable of writing the story that came next. 

                I could see that the muscles in his shoulders visibly relaxed when I mentioned my word count.  “Well, that’s a good start then.  How can you write the story if you don’t know how it ends though?  Usually when you pitch me you have it all outlined.”

                “That’s what has me so excited.  See early on when I was writing the series I barely outlined at all.  I would just sit at my laptop and put my characters in situations to see how they would react.  It’s only the last couple books of the series I have been adding all this structure and planning.  I’m getting back to basics.”  I let out an exasperated sound.  “It sounds like such woo-woo garbage when I say it like that.”

                “Nah Jimmy I, well no I don’t get it, but I’m not a writer I don’t have to get it.  If it works and gets you cranking out marketable books again be as woo-woo as you want.  Just make sure you can finish the book though.  I don’t want you getting seventy five percent in and getting stuck.”

                “I’m not going to lie and say that isn’t a possibility.  Usually what that means though is that I screwed up somewhere.  When that happens, I just jump back to where it was last smooth and drop everything after.  Sure, it hurts to lose a chapter or two, but it’s better than losing momentum.  Of course, you should plan on some extra time editing before you start your marketing push.”

                “After what you’ve been putting me through lately, I’m not talking to anyone about this thing until I see a first draft.  So, help me if there is a necromancer or a surfing vampire anywhere in that draft we are going to have words.”

                I sighed and slumped a bit in my chair.  The next part of the conversation was why I really wanted to do it in person.  It would also be the hardest part of the meeting.  “I’m sorry.  You’ve had my back for as long as I’ve known you and I haven’t been fair to you at all.  I’ve gone back on our deals, ignored your advice, and generally acted like a spoiled child.  So yeah, I’m sorry.”

                I did not expect to leave him speechless, but for a long moment we just sat there in silence.  “Look Jimmy if we’re getting all serious here then I just have one question.  Why?  Why have you been so difficult?  When we first started working together you were my best client.  Always so eager to hear what I had to say and cranking out books like crazy.  What changed?”

                “You have no idea how many times I’ve asked myself that exact question since our last phone call.  I realized some very hard truths about myself and had to admit that I lost my way.  I forgot why I enjoyed writing.  I also got scared that my best work was behind me.”

                “Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy…  Do you know what makes you different from most of my other clients?  Do you know why you are my favorite?”

                “Because I’m the one in your office right now?”

                His serious face broke for a moment, and he let out a chuckle.  “Ok, besides that.” 


                “I have worked with hundreds of authors over the years.  Most of them treat it as work.  They don’t actually want to write; they want to have written.  They enjoy having the story, talking about it, and the praise they get from it.  The actual process of writing though is just how they get to that.  You though, you’re different.  You seem to actually enjoy the act of writing, or you did at least.”

                “Writing a story is the only way I know how the story ends.”

                “See that’s what I mean.  You just approach this differently.  I’ve met plenty of authors like you, but I haven’t had the pleasure to represent very many of them.  They don’t light up when they talk about their ideas.” 

                The room started to get a bit blurry.  I’m sure it was just my allergies because there is no way my eyes were getting watery from just the conversation.  I gave myself a moment before speaking though just to get my thoughts together.  “Thank you.  That might be the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me.”

                “Well, the nicest in the last few years anyway.  Remember I read your book reviews.”

                “Yeah, I do to, and that was part of my problem.”

                “Look kid, you can’t let this stuff get to you.  Once it gets in your head it’s hard to get it back out.  I’ve seen writers crash and burn so many times after a little taste of success.  That’s why I’m so hard on you.  I don’t want that for you.”

                “Kid?  You do know I’m in my forties, right?”   

                “As long as I’m looking out for you, you will always be kid to me.  Come on, let’s get something to eat and you can tell me all about what you’ve got so far.  What do you say?”

                “I’d like that.”