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.


Monday, August 15, 2016

The yolk of suppose

I've been on a bit of a break. Hiatus might be the better word. I imagined that fifty years ago, or a hundred fifty years ago, writing was different. Largely, writing was writing. Even if a poet wrote alone, just for herself, relatives who found her work later could rather easily publish those writings, and make livings off of posthumous efforts. Now, I have to acknowledge that in regards to being a writer, it doesn't quite do anymore to simply write. To say that I've been writing seems to count far less than successfully convincing others that I am a writer. It's an awful, tangled, convoluted mess.

I was inspired by an acquaintance who made some progress with her own struggles. Through her I learned a lot about comic books and the process for making them. We had largely talked about fiction but I discovered one of her many passions was graphic novels. She went around to conventions in the region, shook hands, did research, smiled, proved herself driven, did the work, and was accepted into an anthology. I was very happy for her, and very happy to know that there is a road. There are steps to take. Of course, what I am missing the most of is the conventions, the shaking hands. The smiling. I suppose if the universe speaks, it is on us to listen.

On that note, I am convinced that my query letter fell on deaf ears. There is something about the hollow rejection of a lack of reply that is particularly galling to me. Rejection is a part of life, after all. But there is a level of human affectation in the word no, or the eye contact that precedes a sad head shaking. I've been rejected in person without the word, and without the eye contact, and it is a stab to the center of a person when they go that far beneath notice. Sending submissions out into the aether and receiving no reply is the same. I can only assume that unanswered prayers feel very similarly. I did encounter something like advice on how to craft a query letter, so that is the next step. I'm supposing that is the next step.

In the mean time, I am still writing. Some ideas are less good. My own comic book idea, when I put some weight on it, crumbled through my fingers, and I didn't really lament at all. Another idea I had was smothered under the swirling doubt of "oh, that sounds just like..." The novel is up to chapter 19. The break started off strong, but some difficulties slowed my progress. Actually, they slow me still, and this is my attempt to generate locomotion. Decorating empty space with words, seeing how they stick, tearing them down and hanging up others.