The Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award

So, there’s been this small contest that Amazon has run for the past few years, and they’ve just announced the next contest! Basically, they accept a bunch of pitches for manuscripts. This contest has been upgraded in that there are FIVE possible winners, with a grand winner receiving a $50k publishing contract and the other four getting $15k advances. All told, pretty amazing. You should read up on all of it right now. NOW.

I’m really stoked on this contest and will be spending quite a bit of time working on my pitch due February 16th and then the rest of the time on the manuscript! It’s not even halfway edited so I’ve got a way to go. And even if I don’t make it. Well, whatever, because this gave me the boost to working feverishly on my manuscript.

Alms giving

So last night, I gave 8 dollars to a man on the train. Is that a lot or a little? Based on the ordering of my words, maybe it’s a lot. But based on the regular expenditures of my life, maybe it’s only a little. How do you judge it?

I had been out with friends at a bar, had a few drinks, watched a basketball game, bid farewell, and boarded a train back home. It wasn’t too late, just about 10:30pm, and the train was barely lined with folks. Just about anyone could grab a seat if they wanted one, though the seats are grimy enough to make that decision a difficult one at best.

I decided to stand. I wasn’t going to be on the train that long anyway, just about 15 minutes.

Seven minutes or so into the ride, a man goes by, asking for money. He approaches several young men with English accents. They’re pretty cheerful, and even seem a bit tipsy and they josh around with the man, before deciding that, between the three of them, they can spare a dollar. For some reason this bothers me.

The man graciously accepts the dollar and continues on. When he reaches my area, he doesn’t turn to me, instead turning to the couple across from me. They decline to provide money and he carries on down the aisles, left to right and back again. For some reason, I find myself wishing he’d asked me.

Not four minutes later, another man comes down the aisles, asking for money. He asks the same people. The same English men. Now, they seem less jovial and their collective dollar effort has been reduced to some excuses that they don’t carry any dollar bills on them.

This man now reaches my area and instead of turning to the couple, he turns to me. Even before he’s asking, I’m reaching for my wallet. I think I’d made my mind up well beforehand. There are several factors that affected me, though this is the first time I’ve confronted any of them through words.

1. I try to give money whenever possible. There are many things in play here. If the asker smells like cigarettes or alcohol, I’m much less likely to give at all. But for someone who is asking respectfully and earnestly, hey, sometimes a person just needs a hand.

2. I dislike when people, who clearly have money, refuse to offer anything. It irks me when people are listening to their iPhones but can’t spare a dollar.

3. I’d just spent about 7 dollars per beer at a bar. Couldn’t I spare some money?

So I gave him some money and he thanked me profusely and I was beginning to feel awkward about it when he decided the more thanks he gave, the less time he had for asking others.

There you have it. That’s the story, but I’ve been a little bothered by it ever since. I like to think that I was guided by principles to give that second man money but why didn’t I give the first man money? Both of them were nice and weren’t the disorderly and rowdy panhandlers you can see on public transportation.

Would it have been better to split the $8 between them? Should I have given more money? Once I’ve established the principle that I think it’s worthy to give them money, how do I know how much money to give? I wish I knew the answer because the result is me acting inconsistently.

As much as I like to think about this stuff, it gives me a headache. I think more so than if I had never given any money at all. It feels like after I hand them my money, I’ve given them some part of me, I’ve invested in them a little, and I’d like to know what happens. Are they truly earnest, or am I just the greatest dupe?

Well, I’ll keep thinking about this and if I ever figure out what to do about it, I’ll let you know. In the meantime, how does this relate to writing? People don’t always act the same, or as they idealize themselves. And when they don’t, I think they struggle with themselves. Identity or whatever. What-kind-of-person-am-I type inner dialogues.

How much do people adhere to principles? Do people still refer to how they act as guiding principles? Not something I’ve really talked about with lots of people. Anyway, as a writer, I believe this is an important concept to maintain. Characters can be inconsistent, but there has to be a reason, and I think people know when they’ve acted differently. They’ll reflect. And they’ll maybe change after that.

Yay, and so we begin

This is where I shall blarg about the things I think too hard about and also the travails of my writing… career. Maybe. I dislike that word because I only really write since I enjoy it. I’ve always thought, “Hey, that’d be nice to have as a career, y’know, a writer. Someone who wears their chair thin from typing all day, drinks lots of cafe-type stuff in cafe-type places.”

So when I finished college and began a career not wholly defined as the above, I discovered that maybe career is a bad word for it. I think it’ll be more like a journey. When I think about careers, I think about money. And yuck. Money, and in my case, the lack thereof, but wherefore meow meow and on and on. So no, not career.
I don’t want to think of my writing as a monetary investment, as the time that I’ve spent writing being essential to expediting my financial success and pathways to a jacuzzi in a limo parked in my driveway. While that would be sick wicked awesome, that’s not what I want out of my writing. And I think it’s important to make that distinction. I’ll probably never be a professional writer with that mindset, but hey, it won’t bug me.
I like writing. Hopefully it’s something that other people enjoy reading, too. That’s my main goal here. Provide a bit of an outlet for you (and other people dropping by) to read my stuff. If you like it, awesome! I’d love to hear from you. If you don’t like it, if in fact, you totally hate it, and it made you squirm in your seat, I would totally love to hear that too.
And this blog will cover other stuff too. It’s just that most of the time I’m thinking about writing.