I finished my second draft, played ‘Grand Theft Auto V,’ and booked some travel.

plane_map_WP.jpg

This post has it all: videogames, writing, travel, love, lust, intrigue… you get the idea.

Chicago_01I spent some time in Chicago this past month working on my novel. A good bit of the story is set there, so it made sense to head up there and walk around, take some pictures, and eat some deep-dish pizza. Spending some time on my own in a tiny hotel room was also helpful. I came within a few chapters of finishing while I was up there, and by the time the following weekend was over, I had wrapped up the second draft of my novel.

It’s still pretty rough, but by the end of June, I will have a finished, polished, printed, and bound manuscript. Shit’s getting real.

I did a good bit of writing in my home office, and when I needed a break, I fired up ‘Grand Theft Auto V’ on the PC. I’d already played through it on the PS3, but I was looking forward to seeing it on the PC. While my rig isn’t exactly top-of-the-line (and at its peak, it was, at best, top two-thirds of-the-line), the game looks great and runs smooth. And being in my office, I can play as long as I want without bugging my wife, who doesn’t share my love of crime-based open-world gaming. Good thing she’s pretty.

GTAVOne of the unexpected advantages of playing ‘GTA V’ was the time it gave me to think. If you’ve played the game, you know that driving between locations can take a long time. This means I had lots of opportunities to mull over problems in my novel. Just driving and listening to music. ‘GTA V’ has a decent soundtrack, but there’s also an option to play your own music through the in-game car’s speakers. Very cool.  I’ve always found driving to be extremely conducive to the writing process, and with videogames, I don’t have to burn any gasoline. Assuming my power company doesn’t use gasoline to generate power. They don’t, do they?

So maybe Rockstar Games deserves an acknowledgment for their assistance in creating my novel. I plan on attempting to reach 100% in ‘GTA V,’ but not just yet. I’ve got a book to finish. And sell.

When I first started this novel, I only had a vague idea of what I was going to do to get it published. This idea came from something I’d read on the subject a while ago. The process, as I understood it, was this: get close to finishing the book, send some letters to some literary agents, wait for a response, finish the book, let your agent do the selling. Easy.

And yes, that may be the process for someone with a few credits to their name. As it turns out, for the first-time author, this approach isn’t the best idea. It’s possible I could land an agent and place my book with a publisher doing this, the same way it’s possible I could meet Sara Bareilles when her tour bus breaks down in front of my house and she knocks on my door and asks to borrow a phone and a glass of bourbon. Given a long enough timeline, nearly everything is possible.

The best plan, it appears, is to take my finished manuscript to a literary conference and talk to people. Sending out letters from the comfort of my own home just won’t cut it. I need to actually mingle. Schmooze. Sell myself as an author, sell my book as a marketable novel. I will be a goddamn nervous wreck.

I’ve mentioned my problems with anxiety. This sort of thing will probably give me a heart attack. I’ve already given myself a couple of panic attacks with this novel. It was hard enough just to write the thing. Now I gotta sell it? Give me a break, Universe!

So I’ll be in Boston, Pittsburgh, and New York City this summer, looking to pitch my book to anyone who will listen. Every time I think about it, my stomach wants to expel the last thing I ate. It’ll all be worth it, once the dust settles. I’ll know, when I return from the last trip, if I’ve given it my all. That’s really all I can do.

I put all the dates on my website, RoyClaflin.com. I’ll be spending the next month polishing my novel, having a few close friends and family members read through it, and working on my elevator pitch. I’ll also be contracting an artist to create some promotional materials for the book, plus I’ll be making some stuff myself. I’ll be busy, busy, busy.

I’ll say this: I’ve never been comfortable calling myself a writer. Now that I’ve got this book in the pipeline and am causing myself serious bodily harm trying to finish it, I think I’ve earned the title. I am a writer. That’s my job, my career, my title.

Finally, the title of my book: ‘The Anomaly Problem.’ I like it.

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