Spring Fever and the DBC

It’s happening. This burst of warm weather last week and weekend has my gears shifting to spring.

I’m ready for grilling out, fishing, camping, gardening. I can just feel the warm sun on my face, see the fish rise out of the water on  my hook. Smell the campfire wood smoke, taste the garden-grown veggies.

When I started the blog last September,  I mentioned my love/hate relationship with the bait caster. I mentioned it again in Four-Uh-Oh.  It’s almost time for the experiment to start again.

Here’s what it’s all about:

Some women want to fish, they just don’t want a man to teach them.  Typically it goes like this. Here are some worms, and a hook with a bobber.  Bait your hook. Cast the line. Sit and wait. BORING! The first steps to fishing do not have to be worm-gut fingernails and sitting with a tight-line.  They really don’t.

So For a while now, every year, I try to gather more knowledge about fishing. I’ve learned a lot from Mr. Stew, but in an attempt to not stress him out I started teaching myself when I could. there’s a lot to this! Really. When you don’t depend on someone else to say, “in this water, you need to use a buzzbait, something bright, try this skirt, reel it quickly but steadily” or “dark plastics, let it sink before you reel it in, dance it around a bit while you reel slowly,” you have a lot to figure out for yourself. Like, what about this isn’t working? (is it the bait, is it where I’m fishing, is it just a bad day for the fish to bite? wrong weather, wrong time of day?) I think journaling those things will help me get a better understanding. (and will be quite laughable too. You know I’m sort of clumsy, right?)

First: learning the different types of lures. The trick to lures is knowing what types of fish, water conditions and weather call for which lure. I’m still not there yet. There’s a time and place for crank bait, spinner bait, plastics, jigs, buzzbaits, swimbaits, etc.

Second: each type of lure requires you to reel it in a bit differently, some need to drop to the bottom and you need to reel slowly, some require a bit faster reel, and in some cases, jerking the line to make the lure dance, some reel across the top of the water and need to move more quickly.

Third: different types of reels and different types of rods. I’m not good at this at all. I’d be perfectly happy to always use a little  Zebco “33.  And reels? Oh dear. That’s where the dreaded bait caster comes in.

I’ve spent more time casting and untangling a bird’s nest in the reel than I have fishing with a bait caster, though I have attempted it many times. I’ve never caught a fish on one because I have spent so much time untangling a bird’s nest in the reel that I’ve wasted a good portion of my fishing time with the line instead of with the fish. I’ve not had enough control in casting the bait caster and wound up losing a good lure in weeds and brush. (ssh….don’t tell Mr. Stew!) It’s my  nemesis of fishing. It’s the DBC (Damn Bait Caster)!

I decided a long time ago, (a couple years) that not only would I attempt to teach myself all I don’t know about fishing (with key questions directed at dear husband when necessary), that I would journal about it. This spring starts the fishing journal. What I used, how it went, what I learned, etc.

This is the year I figure out the bait caster. This is the year the fishing journal becomes my writing project. Perhaps the four-uh-oh list item “write the guide book for women who want to fish but don’t want men to teach them” will take shape this spring, summer, and into the fall.

I’ll still write fiction and query and all that, of course, but I’m very excited to see how this goes.  And I’ll be blogging about it, I’m sure.

Fair warning. Experimental Stew is going to be a lot about writing and a lot MORE about fishing over the next few months. It should be entertaining. I have a lot to learn.




The Feel Good No

Funny how one thing in one compartment of your life can affect many things in other compartments of your life.  You know it’s true.  We all do.

Well it so happens that’s exactly what’s going on with me.

I got a rejection on a full from the first agent who requested “Ernest”. He requested at the end of August.  He rejected at the end of January.  It took him a while to get it read and he gave me all the proper apologies and even a few reasons for the delay. He didn’t have to do that, but he did. It was the most personal rejection I’ve ever gotten and led to a wonderful email exchange that really gave me hope.

We discussed my writing. He said, I’m very good. That’s encouraging.

He said “send me the next thing”. I said I would. That’s encouraging.

He said his reader really liked it and passed it on to him to read for himself. That’s encouraging.

He said he was rejecting it because he just really doesn’t like Ernest Hemingway.  I laughed and wondered why he even asked to read it, considering the title and query. I didn’t ask though, but appreciated his honesty. He said not to let his bias discourage me from continuing my search.

He said his reader told him that this kind of book is in the midst of a small trend, and asked me if I thought so too. I said yes, that it seemed to be. That was encouraging, since I wrote it quite a while ago, and I had gone with my heart on it, and wrote what made me happy and didn’t write toward a particular “market”. It validated, I suppose, that when you write for yourself first, and not toward a “zombies are really selling, maybe I’ll write a zombie book” that it can work. Because honestly, I really can’t write what people make me write.

He said to keep going because someone is going to want it. That’s very encouraging.

We ended the discussion with the fact that he wants to see my next book. I told him he would be the first to see it. Now I just have to finish the damned thing – most challenging  story I’ve ever written. Seeing potential in a story and wondering if you can be as big a writer as this big  story requires  is scary. Can I turn out my vision for this story in the right words? I don’t know yet. I still feel like it’s bigger than I am. But this conversation I had gave me a nudge to get back to it.

While the NO itself didn’t make me happy, the information I got and the multiple ways I was encouraged thrilled me.

Our conversation made me want to finish what I’m working on now, (no, scratch that, I want to finish it Right Now!) so I can send it to him. Trouble is finding the hours to match the enthusiasm.

The conversation we had put me back in the “Ernest could be good enough” frame of mind. It also put me in the “my next one will knock his socks off” frame of mind.

It feels good here where I am with this process, not only for the encouragement that Ernest is a good book, but because my writing has improved over time and I know it. My next one will be a better book than my last.  My plot and character and pace and language are stronger in this one than they were when I wrote Ernest.  I know they are.

Maybe I just needed to hear from a professional that I just might have the right combo to break into this publishing world.

I have no doubt I will get knocked down to size again on this journey to author-hood, but if it’s okay, while I have it, I’m going to bask in this Feel-Good-No and put the energy it’s given me to good use.

Life and work have been busy for me lately, and I suppose I’ve seen recently that priorities and time and energy are precious.  If you’ve  wondered where I disappeared to, I’m just trying to do less things, because there are a lot important things in my life I should be focusing on, and I’m trying my damnedest to do THOSE things well.

Thank you, feel-good-No.  🙂