Thursday, May 11, 2017

Not today and not here

Tomorrow I will be embarking on a road trip. I can't remember the last time I travelled anywhere physically. If I'm being honest, everyone asking me if I'm ready for the trip makes me feel unprepared. I will also admit that as I type this, I have yet to pack.

This week I have been working in construction. Or deconstruction, I suppose. I was hired as a helping hand to tear something down. It had been built poorly, apparently, and was very long not in use, covered in all manner of discarded and disregarded items. A dumping ground on top of a lost space. It was interesting, unearthing the mysteries there, and even more so to finally begin to get at the miserable undercarriage. Dangerously rickety and half-fallen over, and yet, when the crowbars and hammers and in the end, chainsaws, went to work, the fixture proved mightily fastened to the world. The whole thing reminded me of a number of stubborn old people I've known. At one point in the process, a large pile of steel had to be moved from its tattered pile to a nearby dumpster. It took me a sweaty hour, and somewhere through the process, I found the following sentence.

That summer, I became acquainted with steel.

I had to bleed for it, all the narrow swipes and near misses that tore my clothes notwithstanding, and even in the blazing heat it seemed worth it. A few hundred ordeals like this, I thought to myself, and I might have a few pages of a story I will always be proud of.

On that note, the glacier has shifted in regards to the revisions I submitted last fall. I'm not complaining. It was nice to know that progress was getting made. I am still very interested in seeing what my first published book might be able to do with an older, more seasoned me steering it. I still love the story, and think others will love it, too. I'm also looking into self-publishing my pulp novella, and testing the waters of audio books, simultaneously. I've done some research, and I think it would work well, especially with some of the changes I plan on attempting to how that process seems to work.

On the other hand, there is the one story I started which is dead in the water. I think about it, and settle my spirit upon it, and there is no resonance at all. I wanted to finish it, and there are plenty of excuses ready at hand as to why I never will, but I think the foundational truth is that I only loved it fleetingly. I'm disappointed, but I hope something will come of the initial push I made putting words to it.

So, in short, this update is like all the other updates. The mountain taketh and the mountain giveth. Being as worn down as I have been this week has provided some new perspective, about how to measure a well in darkness, and the strength of old, dying things.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Good enough to dream

Rejection is fairly commonplace, I think. I was told that I could only expect a single interview out of twenty submitted applications. I don't know the numbers for post graduate, but several of my emails in reply had the phrase "we receive hundreds of applications every year," as some sort of explanation. Romance is romance. People look for "the one," and singling up is implied in monogamy, but that's a needle in quite the haystack. It's interesting because other words I hear as often as I hear the word no begin to lose meaning as I drift down into the rabbit hole of what words mean, the why of letters, and the bedrock of language concept.

For artistic types. rejection is even more apart of their existence. I've seen hours of interviews concerning successful creative professionals and their childhoods, their formative years, and the pre-fame portions of their careers and how most people they encountered had no conception of what it would be to become an actor, or a dancer. Musician, sculptor, writer. It wasn't just rejection though, it was denial. It wasn't a no. It was a never. One of the interviewees said that "people had such trouble because they lacked imagination. Because that's our job, as artists, to make something where there previously existed nothing, and it's a difficult thing to conceive." In the midst of all of mine, I really thought that I had maintained an optimistic stance. I didn't stop writing after all. I didn't stop striving.

But then I got an email.

"Dear Mr. Cammon,

Thank you for giving [us] the opportunity to consider [your work]..."

And then my brain shut off. I thought to myself, well here is yet another rejection letter I can use to pad my couch cushions. Print it out, put it on a wall. Burn it. Part of my brain kept reading, but mostly I had checked out, walked into the kitchen, and began rummaging for breakfast.

"We've looked at your manuscript sample carefully and find the premise interesting enough that we'd like to request the full manuscript."

I looked at glass of juice as if to confirm what I had just read. The bright liquid swayed against the curve, the shaking of a bubbly head.

It wasn't a no. It was a maybe, so worth celebrating to some degree, but what had struck me most immediately was that I had already assumed it was a no. I stepped backwards in time to imagine when this had happened, this change. When, during my darting fingers across my keyboard a literal million times. I was disappointed in myself, and that spun into maybe thinking it had taken this long even to garner this half-yes because of my attitude about  my own chances. Loved ones had suggested I maybe try something else, stopped mentioning things at all when I had quietly avoided their counsel. Had part of me sided with them?

They want me to go back through, before I send the entire thing, and address some "malapropisms."

I have not moved an inch since.

There was a non fiction wonder I started and never finished, about the owner of a minor league baseball team in upstate New York. It was a lovable cast of characters, individuals wedged within the reality of being better at the sport than the average person, but were still not good enough to make a living from their efforts. I found commonalities between the characters and myself, of course. Maybe that's why I didn't finish it. Maybe, I wanted to write my own ending. I found the title very fitting, and memorable. But thinking back on it now, just because a person is good enough to dream, does not mean that they necessarily will.  

Friday, December 23, 2016

Stopped, starting

I wish I could say that rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated. But there aren't any rumors. I stopped putting words into this white space, and no one noticed. Life moves on. Yet I felt a failure by not coming back around and writing something. I've learned so much in the past few months, but putting it all down here feels exhausting. 

I will say this though, I finished the novel before year's end like I planned. I didn't finish it before summer, or fall, but in this latest task I did not fall short. I met my quota of 90,000 words, even went a little over. Come 2017, I will have two unattached works to shop to agents and publishers, and it feels good to be able to say that. Interestingly enough, a random opportunity cropped up to put the already finished work in front of a person that reads for such goals. That was nice, to have been introduced to that person, and it was nice to check the file before I sent it, and discover that the novel to be sent is also close to 90k. I'm not on my way. I am still tinkering in the dark, but if ever anyone shines a light, they will see a rack of wrought works. 

The reason I am here is because I was writing down the second story idea I'd had in as many days. It was an interesting gestation, to put one novel away, to not be thinking about it in almost all instances of writing, then to feel other things come rushing in like ocean waves. The first I jotted down onto a notepad I've taken to using, a broad, star-ward science fiction story covered in multiple shorts. Like Silver Age, which I learned is pulp, and which I am working on making a serial from (I even have some people who have volunteered to voice act), but even less of a straight line. 

In the same way that idea is an evolution of something I tried years ago, so is this new, fantasy epic. I had some strenuous success re-writing one of my older novels, and in a similar vein, I will be re-imagining an older story that had decent bones. It won't have the same name, or many of the same characters, but some of the concepts ought to be recognizable to people who were with me in the beginning. It is exciting for me. A gift, even. I am very happy to be back at it. I love most facets of it, but this part is undeniably the most optimistic. Like watching a child grow.