Monday, August 16, 2010

My way of the ninja

It's been a while. I'm not sure how long, which I guess means that maybe it hasn't. Certainly, I haven't been writing as much as I should have. And I haven't been all that busy, either. If I were to take some artistic liberty, I'd say I've been investing energy into a specific facet in a moment in my past that made me really happy. And as a result, for a brief time, I was excited about something, and it was deep enough a reservoir that I could dive in with no fear of it running out. It was almost a little daunting. And if I were to be completely honest, I'd say I was watching anime. A lot of it, one particular series with hundreds and hundreds of episodes. In one of my more satirical moods, it actually spawned an idea in my brain whose concept name is "The Worst: Bad Guy Academy." But more on that later.

To say that I get a lot of emails would be erroneous. Or, not exactly true. I belong to a handful of email groups, and things are sent out often on them, but none of them are hardly ever addressed to me specifically. Sometimes there are things I can use, or want to put time into, and in the beginning I was really excited about the busy-ness of it all. Now, I tend to usually lump them all together, pretend that I read them, and stuff them into an ever-expanding folder in case I ever need to track any of them down. One such that I received some weeks ago helped me connect the dots on a few things. One of the publishers I have a contract with, the one whom with I first signed, has had some editors leave. I didn't realize at the time that this meant a retardation of the process by which accepted material is poured over, made crisp, and then published. Along with the rejections, things became murky again.

I started up a conversation with a friend I hadn't spoken to in some months, asking about what he was doing and how those things were going. He turned the tables on me quickly enough, and I was forced to look at my situation with eyes similar to the ones I once had. Ones that were less knowledgeable and more impatient. His ultimate point was that if no one ever sees my work, then I'll never sell any of it. And I didn't even describe to him the fuller details of why it was taking so long. It made me wonder how often those sorts of things happen, and if it's a sign of yet more waiting to come. Self-publishing came up in the conversation, too, and I had no proper deflection as to why I wasn't pursuing it.

I remember sitting in my mentor's office back in college, and talking about publishing. He handed me a book with a plain black cover with block font lettering done over with distracting, reflective plastic. He told me one of his students, another such with promise like me but before me, had given it to him. My mentor said the man had self published, and talked about what courage that took, to sell one's work out of their trunk. That was probably when I myself attached a stigma to it. But things have changed in the years gone by. So much so that I wonder at what the difference is. A publisher gives one editing services, and networking ability, and actual marketing, which, ideally, results in a better book more people will come into contact with. And it's free. But the confidence required to submit to a publisher rates the same (or at least similarly) to that required to sell them oneself.

So why don't I? That's a question I haven't been able to answer, among others. But a guy in my writer's group recently paid an artist to do some work for him, a dream I had for a novella that I wrote (to me, at least, it was more like a graphic novel). I don't have the money of course, but I do have the initiative. So maybe I will self publish, using reputable sites that make such a thing easier. And maybe I'll get laughed at. But maybe I won't. What I didn't tell that friend of mine, what was repeatedly spoken about in all the anime I've seen, is that sometimes you have to just do you, and let the chips fall where they may.

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