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06 October 2009 @ 01:11 pm
Delayed gratification, and a research request  
So often in this business our joys are provisional. Hey, I finished a story! ...but I don't know if anyone will buy it. Hey, I sold one! ...but I have to wait for the contract and check, and wait some more for galleys, and wait yet more for publication. Hey, it finally appeared! ...now we'll see if anyone likes it.

I've been spending a lot of the last couple of months in a nebulous space between creation and publication -- closer to publication than sometimes, but not quite there yet. For some reason I've gotten rewrite requests on five submissions this year, and I also got feedback from my critique group on a couple of recent stories that prompted extensive revisions. So I've been doing a lot of rewriting and not a lot of drafting, which is not as satisfying to me and also not terribly conducive to blogging-about.

I've made a couple of sales, too, but even there things are kind of nebulous. I got a rejection from an anthology, but it was accompanied by a request to use the story on the anthology's website (for five cents a word). I would rather have been in the print antho, but it's a decent pay rate and online publication means I don't have to ask my friends to shell out money to read my stuff. So that's a sale, sort of. I also got paid for the Wild Cards story, but there might still be a few revisions requested, depending on exactly what happens with the other stories in the book. So that's another sale, again sort of.

Anyway, I just finished and mailed... let's see, that's the fourth revision in a row, and I'm nearly done with another piece, a nonfiction essay based on the talk I gave at the Library of Congress back in July, which isn't exactly new writing either. Next up -- and I should start that today -- is a project somewhere between drafting and revision: a YA novel proposal based on the three stories I wrote for Esther Friesner's fantastical-suburbia anthologies. I've been asked to write about half of it (~40,000 words) plus an outline.

The original short stories were set in the 1970s, because that's when I was in intermediate school and I have no idea what life is like for Kids Today. It worked well but I've been asked to bring it up to the present day for the novel. I started off with one of the original stories but it was just too finished... trying to revise it was like trying to reshape a marble statue with a butterknife. So I'm going to tackle the project as a completely new novel with the same characters (well, with people based on the same characters) and then, once I have a good solid idea of the setting, characters, and voice, maybe revise the existing stories to fit in the new present-day world.

Now I have a research problem: how to find out what life is like for Kids Today, ages 13-14? I don't know any kids that age well enough to talk to, and I can't go down to the local middle school and just hang out... that's creepy, and probably illegal these days. Any recommendations of books, magazines, movies, TV shows, or websites?

 
 
 
Jay Lake: child-smiling_closejaylake on October 6th, 2009 08:23 pm (UTC)
My kid is days away from being 12, which is a tad young for the demo you mention, but she knows you, and I'm sure she would be happy to talk to you directly if that's helpful.
S-47/19-Jshsilver on October 6th, 2009 08:23 pm (UTC)
I have a nephew in that age range who I can probably hook you up with. And possibly introduce you to at Windycon.
sarah_prineas on October 6th, 2009 08:38 pm (UTC)
I have a 14 year old Kid Today who will gladly be a first reader, if you want one. She's somewhat atypical in that we don't have a TV, so she's not as steeped in popular culture as most kids, but she's pretty typical in most other ways.
Kate Schaeferkate_schaefer on October 6th, 2009 08:48 pm (UTC)
You know my granddaughter, who is just past that age, and she knows and likes you. She's an eccentric kid (as you know, Bob), so anything she says about what she reads will be slanted to her eccentricities, but I assume your characters will be somewhat eccentric as well.
the laughing leaping waterminnehaha on October 6th, 2009 08:55 pm (UTC)
pegkerr has a daughter in that range. I myself don't know anything about the media consumption habits of kids-these-days.

K.
the laughing leaping waterminnehaha on October 6th, 2009 08:57 pm (UTC)
Oh, and....
you absolutely could call the local middle school, get the principal on the phone, ask for an introduction to the advanced English teacher, and figure out a way that you could do a classroom visit.

You'd probably have to talk about being a writer before grilling the kids on their facebook habits. But, fun, no?

K.
Samantha Hendersonsamhenderson on October 6th, 2009 09:21 pm (UTC)
I have a 12 years old and an almost 14 year old (your biggest fan from Worldcon Denver, if your remember), and I'm sure they'd be willing to answer any questions.
Blade Hamilton (aka VAXJedi)vaxjedi on October 6th, 2009 09:29 pm (UTC)
I've got a 15 year old and a 19 year old. I could dig for ya as well.
Johndjonn on October 6th, 2009 11:06 pm (UTC)
I think you know joycemocha at least nominally;, she was in the critique group from which the Lab Rats are loosely descended, and has been in and out of various other local/regional writing and SF/F community events. She is presently teaching middle school up in ramblin_phyl's neck of the woods, has talked about some aspects of that in her LJ relatively recently, and would likely be able to provide useful insights.
Twilighttwilight2000 on October 7th, 2009 06:12 am (UTC)
I've also got a freshly minted 14 year old that might be able to answer questions via email (if all of the above isn't enough ;>)