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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Kickstarting the penniless journey

   
Author Topic: Kickstarting the penniless journey
Bent Tree
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Well, I have committed to trying this without being committed to an asylum. I would love some of you to help be a part of it. Feedback is important. I am trying to find an agent to pitch this to while I blog. Hopefully, We will kick it off officially January first, but subscribe if you would like to keep up with my progress.

Anyone have any experience with finding a Narrative Non-fiction Agent?

http://moneyisnteverythingisit.blogspot.com/

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extrinsic
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I've questioned several agents who represent nonfiction writers. Creative nonfiction is the term as I know it.

I asked the agents what's the marketplace want. What do they like most about CNF writers. What do they like least about CNF writers. Where does memoir fit into the marketplace currently. What other CNF genres might have better marketability potential. Biography? Another emphasis than character, though no less character oriented? Like setting, theme, event, voice? What do they expect from a writer who's seeking representation.

The agents answered the questions, sincerely, forthrightly, and generously. They thanked me for my foresight. And emphasized their general and particular proposal guidelines. Further investigation of other CNF agents' published guidelines turned out fairly similar results. They want a pitch letter, similar to a query letter, and a proposal. Some want a chapter-by-chapter summary or synopsis as well. The pitch and proposal should be fresh and vigorous and on point, of a timely topic or theme, character oriented, not so much memoir or self-help, though setting, plot, and current event should play equally significant roles. And all-important voice.

Writing about the other is essential and in fashion, so that there are others to interact with, so that the personal is revealed, personal personality, behavior, and traits, and frailties and flaws. And subtext, there must be accessible subtext. In other words, writing about something other than a surface meaning.

Interacting with others is essential, so that a narrative doesn't come across as or bog down in a bathtub story. Stuck in a bathtub figuratively and unable to escape being stuck, the narrrative structure is basically a navel contemplation event. Not enough material for more than a paragraph or two, here and there in a larger work.

In your case, Bent Tree, I suggest considering who and what those other interacting persons and subtext meanings are. A useful place to start is with a desire or goal, purpose, want, need, like living off of less money, if any, living simpler, and dig into what that personally means or will mean in the project term and whether it has an endpoint.

Frankly, I see it as a retreat from mainstream society, Some avoidant attachment-detachment condition going on there. Rejected by society, retreating from rejection, seeking sanctuary in safety to lick the wounds and recover from rejection and find a new normal of social acceptance. Seems to me that's a very timely and relevant theme, cause for a personal journey, and topic in this increasingly impersonal digital social networking age.

From that, there's an end in sight that doesn't keep outcomes open. Outcomes must be finally, irrevocably, unequivocally satisfied for both CNF and fiction. A CNF proposal must include a projected outcome.

[ December 04, 2011, 07:03 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Bent Tree
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I was pretty certain the prevalent theme or outcome would be essential to the selling of a novel based on this project. Unfortunately, I am unsure of what the outcome will be exactly and therefore am as in the dark as the potential agent.

I did however think it may be okay to pitch the proposal to an agent and get some feedback, leads, etc..

I have a feeling this will get personal and introspective, which will add to the theme. I also assume that the candid nature of this will make it more marketable if anything will.

So, Do you feel I should offer my prediction in the pitch even if it doesn't exactly turn out the way I expect?

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extrinsic
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Yes, offer a predicted outcome. Don't hedge on it though, saying the obvious, that the outcome is uncertain. Consider that taken as a given. Actually, personal journeys tend to seek one outcome and find another. That kind of discovery and reversal can set up for profound, surprising, and artful endings once they come to fruition as the journey unfolds.

While the term novel can in some sense be applied to book length CNF, novel is generally reserved for long fiction. Roman à clef more typically applies, literal translation: novel with a key, "is a phrase used to describe a novel about real life, overlaid with a façade of fiction" (Wikipedia: Roman à clef).

Also, a personal journey often encounters refusals, personal refusals of the quest, internal and external, and refusals from others that raise self-doubts and oppose desire. Those are the hallmarks of plot as far as CNF is concerned. Refusal, discovery, and reversal, ever while outcome is in doubt until a final outcome is reached. A favored outcome for personal journeys is one of bildungsroman, or personal maturation or moral growth novel.

Meanwhile, have fun discovering meaning and by all means appreciate the journey is the reward for all its hardships and heartaches. If it was a pleasant and easy, joyous journey, everyone would do it and it wouldn't be fruit for artful CNF.

Keep in mind imperative preaching is a turn off for many readers. Visionary perceptions of the personal human condition are in demand. Inspiring, mystical revelations transcend even visionary perceptions.

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Bent Tree
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Preaching raises a really valid point. I want to definitely show my belief system, but I hate pushing values, beliefs, or objectives upon others. I thank you for bringing that to my attention again.
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MAP
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I honestly don't know how you can sell this until you've lived through it. Really you have no idea what the outcome will be.

It is an interesting journey. I can see this being a good memoir which would probably help keep it from being too preachy yet still allow you philosophize a bit.

If you do decide to write a memoir, from what I understand, you write and edit the whole thing, then you try to get an agent, just like you'd do for a novel.

Good luck, Bent Tree. I'll be following your blog. [Smile]

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LDWriter2
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I think it depends on how you preach and that might be what extrinsic meant.

I've read books where it was very clear and very bold. But I have also read books were the preaching was subtle, You knew-at least I did- what the author wanted to say but he or she didn't bash you over the head with it or make it the whole thing.

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extrinsic
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A creative nonfiction maxim about reporting in scene mode rather than recital mode (show rather than tell) serves as a useful guide for avoiding preaching or lecturing. "We show the image when we're too self-conscious to state a position directly." I don't know who said that first, maybe Philip Lopate. I've heard it iterated by several CNF poetics writers.

In other words, show your belief systems interacting with others' belief systems and settings. etc., conflicting, clashing, contending, confronting. Maybe coordinating, cooperating, or codetermining with others at times.

Or use parable-like extended metaphors drawn upon others' belief system interacting to show same. Tell in scene with subtext the stories of others' heartaches, hardships, inspirations, and revelations, clashes and contentions. But with personal slant or attitude, subtext, toward the belief systems. Ahh, the art of the traditional folk storyteller. I love it.

Which raises another CNF method, using seemingly inconsequential circumstances, i.e., objects, persons, settings. etc., as "windows" for accessing meaning. A "window" is basically a causal nonlinear timeline glimpse into another circumstance outside the immediate time, place, situation, persons of a now moment in a narrative. Seeing a rusty tractor could trigger a memory of a childhood event reported in recollection writing mode, for example, a remote time revisted in the present now time.

"Guests" or "visitors" are also "windows." Like recounting a circumstance where others interact, but not the immediate persons of a scene's events. I've used imagined cartoon devil and angel imps clashing over relevant subjects sitting on my shoulders as "guests" to good effect in CNF essays. They, of course, represent the clash of the interior "second voice" of the conscience. Great for when there's no dialogue or interpersonal interactions going on in a private scene.

"Alas, poor Yorick, I knew him well," for example, the skull is a "guest" or "window" that allows access to a soliloquy, a spoken aloud interior second voice, in Shakespeare's Hamlet.

[ December 05, 2011, 12:32 AM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Typo in your first sentence:
quote:
How does money influence the way wee see ourselves?
Will read further, but it looks great.
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Bent Tree
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Thanks, Kathleen. I need a full time editor!
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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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You're welcome.

By the way, later on the page, you use "whom" three times in a sentence. Only one time is it used correctly (as I understand grammar), and that is when it is used after "with." The other two times are at the beginning of clauses in which "who" is more correct because, grammatically, "who" is the subject of the clause.

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