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Thursday, November 5, 2009

Found Writing

By A.J. Llewellyn

You hear about Found Art all the time, but I rarely, well in fact I never read about the literary equivalent, Found Writing.
This is the story of how a #1 best-selling E book almost wasn't...and how some stories finally find their homes...
Back in the day when I went to pitch meetings at film studios, my house was filled with story synopses (four pages) and treatments (ten pages) all of them ready at a moment's notice to be sent via fax to some development executive's office.
I had an agent and she loved my work. I practiced all my pitches on her and went off to meetings, but in spite of some great responses and near-calls with actual deals, I remained empty-handed.
I had a dream after watching a particularly odious athlete mouthing off about love and women and wondered how he would react if he woke up as a woman one morning?
Well, it was an idea but I took it even further and ran to my agent's office the next morning and pitched her the idea for Tall, Mean and Darkly, a play on the 'tall, dark and handsome' stereotype.
My idea was this: A guy's wife dies. They had a pretty good marriage, not perfect, but he loved her. She comes back. As another man. How will he cope with not only having her back from the dead but with a dick?
The agent stared at me. "And?" she said.
And?
Was she kidding me? I thought this was a great idea. I could see it as a movie. Right there and then she burst my bubble. I put aside the four-page synopsis I'd pounded out.
A couple of months ago when I was in a rare mood to clean up the place, I found it again.
Tall, Mean and Darkly, was I think a little too adventurous back then even though Ghost was a big hit...I realized my agent at the time didn't like the gay element in the story because for the husband to accept the wife as a man he'd have to be...gay.
In my newish career as an author of gay erotic fiction, I didn't have to worry about upsetting any executive's sensibilities. I pitched the idea to my co-author Stephani Hecht and I think the book is not only one of my best and certainly our best collaboration to date, but its stellar sales have been a redemption for all those shutdown ideas I ever had.
It was a reminder that agents and those in The Biz who should know a good idea from a bad one, don't.
It was a reminder not to listen to negative thought. Not to stop the creative process. No doesn't mean no in the writing world. It just means its time to get it to somebody who'll say yes.
I owe a lot to Stephani who jumped in with both feet and contributed her own wonderful ideas to our collaboration.
I have to also thank our publisher, http://www.extasybooks.com/ for running with it - and to our fantastic cover artist Martine Jardin for turning out such a wonderful cover.
Yesterday I sent my former agent a note letting her know about Tall, Mean and Darkly. She wrote back that she often wondered what I did with it. She said she'd followed my career and had this to say, "I think of all the commissions I could have been earning from your book deals. Let me know if you need help in that area."
Yeah, right!
If you have an idea, however remote or weird, don't listen to No. Find your lost writing and Just Do It.
In the meantime, Stephani and I are doing the sequel to our book. Taller, Meaner, Darker comes out February 1. I can't wait!

Aloha oe,
A.J.

5 comments:

Lynn Crain said...

I just love those ideas that come back to you in time. Those are usually the best ones.

I sure don't miss the pitching days nor the headaches or stomach aches. I always got those when pitching a new idea to anyone. I don't any more because I'm more secure in myself and what I do. But I still see them all run through my head as movies while I'm writing them.

It's funny about what you've said about your agent. I recently talked to my first agent as well. I am thankful that all he said was he felt happy to have been a part of my career at some point. If he had mentioned money, I would have probably smacked him. LOL!

Great post, A.J.!

Lynn

Stephani Hecht said...

AJ, thank you so much for sharing this wonderful idea with me and letting me go along on the journey of writing Tall, Mean and Darkly. I am truly blessed to have you as a writing partner and I thank my lucky stars each and every day.

george-allwynn said...

Hi AJ!

This blog post was a nice pick-me-up, rah-rah sort of encouragement I needed at this moment. You ought to check in with the NaNoWriMo web site to see if they could use this for the encouragement emails they send out.

It is my belief that those obsessed to write are a moody lot, predestined for bouts of melancholy and self doubt. These maladies come out of the blue, striking at our most vulnerable asset: our creative energy.

It is times like these we to be reminded that no doesn't necessarily mean never. In the publishing world, it also means just wait or later. It could also mean to choose another person, another publishing house or even something as simple as choosing a different point of view.

The only time a writer should take no seriously? When NEVER = no. And to tell the truth, I find never rarely happens in ones life time. The infinity of possibilities loom out on the horizion, just waiting to be explored through written words.

Whether we are published or aspiring authors - any facet of fiction or non, no writer is immune to feelings of failure or being plagued with pessimism. So don’t trash those ideas! Don’t rip up the papers! Don’t cave in just because someone's ignorance ignored the possibilities of how your story could sway the thoughts of many.

I think all writers would behoove themselves to remember that more often.

AJ Llewellyn said...

Hi Lynn, Stephani and George,
Thanks so much for your comments!
George, I'll look into the Nano Wri Mo encouragement emails. Great suggestion, thanks!

booklover0226 said...

I can't wait to read these books!

Thanks,
Tracey D

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