Friday, August 01, 2008

The New Weird

Le Gourmet,
Pablo Picasso,
National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

Terms of Engagement:
Seems New Weird is the latest term in the endless redefinition of/positional scramble for genres and sub-genres.
Unfortunately, there is no way I can appropriate the phrase for my writing, though I wonder if I could manage mileage with Old Weird. No? I thought not.

Wry Quote: From Redlines and Deadlines:

I’m not talking about publishing, which requires celestial alignment. Alliance with dark powers is a nice edge, too.

Having no particularly close connection with either set of Powers, am having one of those days when all I can think of is all the despairing reasons why an agent/editor would NOT be interested in my prose. Totting up the negatives. Like, I'm Canadian, to begin with.

Annoyed and Harumph:
Really annoyed when someone states with absolute conviction that there is no such thing as emerald green eyes -- when I have met a woman with emerald green eyes and know my sense of colour definition is perfectly adequate.
Emerald eyes may be more common in romantic fiction than in real life but they do occur, and without benefit of contact lens. So there.
And for the record I went to high school with a girl who had eyes of true gold. So there again.

Word Count:
One one hand we hear that publishers are producing shorter books and that booksellers like that; on the other, we read of agents dismissing MSS on word count alone. Yet one has the impression that many agents -- as well as editors -- request revisions.
Of course, I'm ignorant and easily confused, but what about the effect of revision on total words? Revisions can substantially change word count -- up or down. With me it has always been up, so I have an axe to grind -- and can't see a practical difference between 73 and 75 thousand words (or whatever) at the onset.
Does the industry as a whole expect bloat?
Am I boring you?


writtenwyrdd said...

"am I boring you?" Hah! I wrote a post for today that made me wonder the same thing. When we get our thoughts out there and they aren't really an essay on a topic, just rambles, it feels like you're dominating the talk at the cocktail party. (I'm pretty good at that, as well; an embarrassingly stupid habit.)

But, no, you aren't boring at all. It's an interesting question which I shall pretend isn't an issue. Because I write massive tomes and don't plan to stop doing so.

Bernita said...

Written, it's my deepest literary fear.

Gabriele C. said...

It seems to vary with the genre, and there are contradictions between what's said on the net and what's actually out on the shelves.

Just write the best book you can.

Bernita said...

And multi-contradictions between agents too, Gabriele.

BernardL said...

The publishing world is a Rubik's Cube. Some folks solve it in thirty-five seconds; and others, like me, never do. :)

You are NEVER boring.

Ric said...

Goodness! A disparate post to start the month.

New Weird only means using one's imagination to come across fresh - quote on Agent Kristen's blog this morning says it all. From what I've read of Lillie, you have nothing to fear here at all.

Negative thoughts about the book are less than helpful. Please note it is a Canadian author in the press this week with a debut novel and 7 figure advance. And, unlike you, I'd never heard of him.

My daughter was born with jet black eyes. After arguing with the clerk filling out the birth certificate, who insisted all babies are born with blue eyes, I finally took her to the nursery and she freaked out. Still refusing to put black as a color, she settled for dark brown. People who argue such things don't get out much.

And, unless you're writing 250k or 40k novels, I wouldn't worry about the count too much. Get it close and they can change the print size to come in at 240 pages.

This wasn't boring at all.

spyscribbler said...

Boring me? Don't be silly!

I'm craving shorter books. I'd rather read a series of three short books than one long one. I wasn't always that way. I think it's society: we're so busy and distracted.

Robyn said...

Well, you bore me.

Kidding, kidding. If shorter stories are hip right now I'll cheer. I tend to write short. I've found myself thinking, "How many other adjectives can I use for that table/his eyes/her hair to get to 70,000 words?"

December/Stacia said...

1. Princess's eyes are topaz. Not brown, not gold, but really, honestly in-between, and when she's upset they go green. They're gorgeous, and I've never seen anything like them before (mine are blue, hubs's are brown; I hoped one of the girls would have my eyes but nope). So I too am a lot more forgiving with eyes.

2. Agent revisions took UG from 83k to 98k, if memory serves. He didn't even blink about the extended word count.

3. No! You're never boring!

Rick said...

New Weird? What exactly IS it, and how does it differ from old weird?

December/Stacia said...

Ric, neither of my girls were born with blue eyes either. :-)

StarvingWriteNow said...

Weird is just weird. It's not new or old. It just is, right?

raine said...

And: Am I boring you?

Never, dear Bernita.

Just steadily digesting all the info, and trying to decide whether to align myself with Satan or wave my white flag...

Bernita said...

Rubik's rubic, Bernard. I'm with you.

I think of it as the end of a week, Ric.
There goes the annual allotment of Canadians.
"Don't get out much" - and don't see what they look at when they do.

Natasha, I was thinking more along economic lines.
There are some books I wish would go on forever, and others...

Fears confirmed. I was afraid of that, Robyn.
I find yhere's lots of places where one COULD expand, but aren't sure if one SHOULD.

Some people seem adamant about exceptions, December.
Your example is exactly what I mean.

Rick, I suspect it is a form of spec-fic that doesn't fit anything heretofore, but I'm really not sure.

Bernita said...

Beth, if only it were so!I can't keep up.

Sometimes it feels like an impossibility, Raine, but it's fun.I guess.

SzélsőFa said...

You never bore me. Your posts bore into me, Bernita.

Sometimes I don't understand them, and it takes some re-reading to capture what's this all about, but most of all, yours are useful bits.

Charles Gramlich said...

No feeling of boring here. I wonder too about whether the bigger publishers are expecting bloat. I can't imagine writing some of the tomes I've seen published. It's hard enough to imagine reading them.

The Anti-Wife said...

Nope! Not bored yet.

Chumplet said...

You're the most non-boring Canadian I know!

I was born with black eyes according to my mom. Now they're hazel, switching from sage green to chestnut. Sometimes both at the same time.

You'll find that perfect agent, Bernita.

Jaye Wells said...

So is new weird the new black? I'm so confused. Can't we just call it fiction?

Bernita said...

Here's hoping I never lead you astray, Szelsofa!
~sometimes I don't understand myself~

My bleating is just self-justification, Charles, trying to make a virtue of my habit of being word-niggardly.

~crinkles eyes at AW~

"Sage green" sounds so pretty, Sandra!

"Fiction" is just not tidy enough, Jaye.
Multiplication produces division.

Steve Malley said...

For what it's worth, the TIny Dynamo's eyes are grey, with a ring of vivid gold around the pupil. Never seen anything like them, before or since.

Lana Gramlich said...

A Phillipino woman I worked with in Scarborough had eyes like I've never seen before or ever will since. EVERYONE commented on them, of course. They were quite amazing. What color were they? I couldn't even begin to venture a guess, really. There were so many different flecks in there they didn't even add up to some kind of cohesive whole!

Bernita said...

Sound beautiful, Steve.
LK Hamilton describes eyes like that, if I remember right, for her sidhe characters.

Bernita said...

And that's another example, Lana, why I get really knackered when some clod proclaims unusual coloured eyes do not exist.
Topaz, sage green, gray and gold...

Scott from Oregon said...

When I lived in the far outskirts of Tokyo, I was surprised to find a gorgeous Israeli girl at my door, asking directions (the locals sent her to me because of the language thing...)

She had the most gorgeous emerald green eyes that I can still recall after twenty years.

And a boyfriend...

Bernita said...

"still recall after twenty years"
Exactly, Scott.
Rare but there.Don't know why some people are so adamant about exceptions to the average.

Jeff said...

You are never boring, Bernita.

Sid Leavitt said...

Bernita, you will never bore me -- nor, I am sure, countless others who read you.

Rick said...

Rick, I suspect it is a form of spec-fic that doesn't fit anything heretofore, but I'm really not sure.

This is quite possible - magic realism is an example - but absent some explanation of what they mean, 'new weird' just sounds like old hype to me.

Bernita said...

Jeff and Sid, you are officially Dear Guys.

"old hype." Does make one think that, Rick. Unless there's a new cross-genre of some sort, like steam-punk horror or something.

Whirlochre said...

Does this mean they'll be selling off regular weird at a discount rate?

Bernita said...

Happens all the time, Whirl. Real bargins.

laughingwolf said...

no, NEVER boring, bernita... i learn something with every visit to your site...

[home again, if still stiff/sore from thursday's fall to rocks]

Barbara Martin said...

No, Bernita, you are not boring me. Your posts are always interesting which is why I keep returning.

ChrisEldin said...

A decent Picasso.

Must be from his "I'm going to take my time with this painting" period.

Is there one called "The Kiss?" I have to look that up now.


Bernita said...

Well, I worry about it.
Laughingwolf and Barbara = more Dear People.

Chris, the only "Kiss" I know of is by Klimt. But since PP was so prolific, I wouldn't be surprised.

archer said...

As to eyes, I grew up in Washington, D.C., where my parents dutifully took me to the Smithsonian, where they (the Smithsonian, not my parents) have lots and lots of emeralds--a whole display case of them. Emeralds are all different kinds of green, some of them quite eye-like. (-;