The Inspiration Vulture

When I posted a month ago about the Great Agent Search of 2008, I mentioned I had sent out a fresh batch of five query letters to literary agents in the ongoing quest for representation for my book, Charlotte Dent. From that batch of letters, I’ve thus far received one form rejection, one personal rejection from an agent who liked my sample pages but thought the book would work better rewritten in first person, and one request to read the full manuscript. That agent ultimately passed: while she thought Charlotte was professional and publishable, she didn’t feel strongly enough about it to offer representation. There’s been nary a word from either of the other agents I queried; perhaps they’re backlogged with query letters, or perhaps they’ve already steamed the stamps off my self-addressed reply envelopes to use on their tax forms.

Next step? Query on, query ever. I’ll send out a new wave of letters this week.

I’m itching to start a Big New Unspecified Writing Project (another book? Another screenplay?), though I seem to be bankrupt for material to write about. (I tried to sit and brainstorm ideas earlier today, but then I got sucked in by VH-1’s Viva Hollywood! Have you seen this? It’s fabulous: actors compete to win a role on a telenovela. In the first episode, a stunt coordinator trained the contestants in the art of bitch-slapping and tossing drinks in faces. My hopes for future installments are high.) It’s a rough, amorphous, disorganized process, this business of generating ideas. Inspiration is a vulture which feasts on the carrion of other people’s lives and other people’s ideas and digests it all into something wholly new and different. Ideas come from random things that have struck me at some point in the past -- things I’ve seen, things I’ve experienced, things I’ve heard or misheard, books I’ve read, films I’ve watched -- which are filed away, then eventually retrieved and strung together with thousands of other random things, until the original source is all but unrecognizable. Charlotte Dent, for example, contains a mishmash of different influences, ranging from the obvious (my experiences working in the entertainment industry) to the obscure (the actor commentary track on the Fantastic Four DVD and an interview Orlando Bloom once gave about how he prepared for Lord of the Rings by eating nuts and berries and switching from coffee to tea both provided me with strange bits of inspiration for the book).

I tend to get sort of obsessive about stuff. It’s easy to see where my brain has been recently: twenty of twenty-nine total posts on this blog have had something to do with Heroes. As for past obsessions, there’s a nice chronicle of some of them over on my main site. Obsessiveness isn’t a bad character trait for a writer, because obsessions provide a great resource for finding things to write about. Thus, over the next couple of weeks, I’m going to take a look at some of my past obsessions -- television shows, films, books, Duran Duran videos -- in the hope of drumming up new sparks of ideas for the Big New Unspecified Writing Project.

First up: the Inspiration Vulture feasts on Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira (“Kanedaaaaaa!”). That’s tomorrow.


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