“So far I have no title, no real plot…. I don’t have a clue about what is going to happen,” Child tells Andy Martin, a lecturer in French and Philosophy at Cambridge University on the first day as Martin observed Child write his 20th novel over the next seven months. Child sits down, lights a cigarette, and begins to write.
By the end of the day, Child has smoked 26 Camels, drunk 19 cups of coffee (“I’m writing on the verge of a stroke,” he quips) and written 2,000 words. It’s fascinating to watch the process of writing unfolding in real time — the hours Child spends agonising over a particular word choice, the weighing up between different types of POV, the slow accretion of plot and forward momentum. It shouldn’t work — after all, writing is a predominantly mental activity — and yet it does in a way that makes you wonder why no one’s thought of doing this before.
Read the rest of this fascinating article by Stav Sherez in The Spectator.
Encouraging words for writers from Salt Cay Writers Retreat faculty member Erin Harris (Folio Literary Management):
“Agents are in the business of discovery; we’re looking for literary talent that we can foster and nurture, and queries are one of the vital ways in which we connect with talent.
After a day of phone calls, emails, pitching, and meetings – and maybe,maybe some reading and editing (if I’m lucky) – I actually really look forward to sifting through the day’s queries. This is a moment when I can catch my breath. When I can kick my feet up and let someone else do the work for me! All I have to do is listen to their story. And I’m always, always making a silent wish that I’m about to stumble upon something amazing and fall head over heels.”
Be sure to read the rest of her interview at Slice Magazine.
Not all literary agents are created equal. Agent Kristin Nelson and author Karen Dionne have seen the good, the bad, and the truly ugly. In this article series, “Think Like an Agent,” they pool their expertise.
Simply put, a literary agent is the person an author hires to manage his or her publishing career.
Literary agent is actually an odd career. It’s the only job in which the the agent picks the client first, and then the client decides whether or not to hire the agent. What other job is remotely like that? None. It’s unique to this industry.
Regardless, once an agent offers you representation, saying “yes” and hiring your agent is a business decision—one with real consequences that directly impact the success of your career. (more…)
Wonderful essay on fathers and sons and finding inspiration to follow your dreams by 2014 Salt Cay Writers Retreat instructor Lorenzo Carcaterra:
“My father was barely literate and my mother didn’t speak English. Nor did I until I started grade school. And there were no books in the railroad apartment we shared in Hell’s Kitchen other than my collection of Classics Illustrated comics that I kept in a neat pile in a hall bureau. My dad worked as a butcher at the old 14th Street meat market, now known more for its high-end clothing stores and restaurants than for trucks packed with hind quarters bound for uptown destinations.”
The Thursday afternoon group therapy session was held in a small, cramped room on the ninth floor of the forensic unit. It was a hot August day, and since the shatter-proof windows were nailed shut, the room was hot, humid, and eerily still.
The group members–all men, all convicted of violent crimes, including rape, battery, incest and murder–watched warily as I slipped into an empty folding chair near the door. It was my first week as staff psychologist on the busy unit, and I was still new to the game.
But not so new that I would forget to give myself a clear escape route.
The chairs were arranged in a circle, and my supervisor had given me strict instructions on how to begin each session. “Start by going around the circle and have them say something good about themselves,” he had ordered. (more…)
I recently found myself jammed up against a deadline most novelists would have thought impossible to meet. My normal writing pace produced roughly one polished chapter per week. Now, in order to meet my deadline, I had to write a polished chapter every day. I had to learn how to write faster – fast. (more…)
Salt Cay Writers Retreat faculty member Steve Fisher, Vice President of the Agency for the Performing Arts in Los Angeles, recently talked to Karen Dionne about his job as a film agent, what he looks for when considering a book’s film potential, and why he’s looking forward to teaching at the Salt Cay Writers Retreat.
What part of being a film agent do you most enjoy?
The most enjoyable part of my job unquestionably is interacting with creative people and having those conversations about turning a piece of material into a movie or series. To be able to work in the world of ideas is a wonderful thing, and I don’t take it for granted. I find the people in my business extremely interesting, occasionally challenging to deal with, but always intriguing.
Since I’ve always loved books–I was a voracious reader since I was a boy–and like everyone also love movies, combining those two passions in one profession is a great thing. (more…)
Salt Cay faculty member Chuck Adams, of Algonquin Books, has built a reputation as a brilliant editor and a straight shooter. Here’s his description of his “ideal author” from a 2008 interview in Poets & Writers:
“My ideal author would be one who is anxious—not just willing—but anxious to work with me. I don’t mean me, Chuck Adams. I mean me, the editor. Someone who understands that, while they are happy with what they’ve done, there may be room for improvement. They’re open to listening to my suggestions and, once I have shared my wisdom with them, they do something with it. As I said, when I make these suggestions for changes in the manuscript, I don’t want to be ignored. Because I’m not wrong. “There’s a problem there, and we need to work on it.” I may be wrong with the fix I suggest, but I’m not wrong with the need for a fix, and I want the author to respond to that and not argue with me. I see the creation of a successful book as very much a collaborative thing. The author always has to be happy with the book, or otherwise it doesn’t matter, but I also have to be happy with it for the company’s sake. We’ve got to feel like we can go out with confidence and make money on this book.”
Read the rest of Chuck’s interview in Poets & Writers, and you’ll understand why we’re thrilled to have him on our faculty!
Book editor Amy Einhorn runs her own imprint at G.P. Putnam’s Sons and has discovered gems such as The Help and The Weird Sisters.
“Growing up, I watched more TV than anything,” remembers Amy Einhorn. It’s a funny observation coming from the woman many hail as being one of the smartest book publishers of our time. But then again, in the era of the Internet, thousand-channel TV, and lots of other distractions, Einhorn, with her extraordinary “nose” for turning obscure, rejected, and startlingly original manuscripts into best sellers, is widely viewed as one of contemporary literature’s saviors.
Read the complete interview at Gotham Magazine: Amy Einhorn on the Mark of a Best Seller. What a privilege Salt Cay students will have to work with and learn from Amy at the retreat!
Reposted with permission from Between the Pages
You’re a querying or soon-to-be querying writer. You’re on Twitter, doing your research, following agents and editors, carefully choosing which agents you want to query, and networking with other writers. You’re doing a lot of work to learn the ropes, and now you want to make Twitter work for you. How can you make that happen? (more…)