Monday, April 4, 2011

Contribution by Jeff Laubenstein

Sometimes the mountain takes, advice I received from a M:tG card of all places. The graphic is of a great many goblins running for their lives down the side of the mountain. It took me years to even understand what the quote means, and every now and again I'm given a glimmer of insight into the fact that my understanding isn't quite there yet.

A writing friend's prayers were answered in the form of a way out of his miserable work situation. Coupled with his romantic life taking a turn for the better, he's declared the last month or so a "religious experience." I know how close he is to quitting (he works retail), and I know how much his job (and the necessity to make money to live) get in the way of his writing, so I had no room to argue. Another writer I know finally had his book signing. He sent an email to the other authors at the publisher to talk about his experience and used the word discouraged no fewer than four times. There were even some sentences typed in all caps.

I took from these two situations, these two lives (which are echoes of others I know, also engaged in the ebb and flow of things), the repeatedly useful essence of the quote I recalled. Sometimes the mountain takes. The implication, I've always believed, is that sometimes the mountain also gives. I myself could enjoy a better work situation, more money, less stress, and signs seem to be pointing toward the book signing being a go for September (and hopefully more than one person I don't know will show up and buy). Today, I benefit from perspective.

The writing over the weekend went well. One chapter Friday and two on Saturday helped me reach my quota. I had occasion to write about one of the antagonists for once, a character who's fingers are in everything but whose spotlight rarely benefits from the third person limited angle. I always have fun with those bits because everything is mercurial and mystical and metaphorical. Yet a third writer friend is reading my book currently, and he described my style as "direct, but about metaphorical things" compared to his own as "indirect, but about literal things." And lining the two up side by side, that is true, though before I read his work I was worried that people would think some of my passages were too strange and abstract.

The promoting is going less well, which is to say it isn't. I have to admit I'm at a bit of a loss as to what to do next. The hairs on the back of my neck tell me that this is a crucial time to keep pushing, to build momentum, but the tiny follicles have about as much of an idea about how to do that as my brain does. Someone gave me a good idea about contacting my alma mater, which made me laugh, because I have been skulking about my employer's bookstore for weeks, trying to build up the wherewithal to ask them about selling my book on their shelves, and never once did it occur to me to query the school that thought enough of me to give me a diploma. Proving oneself seems to be endless. Reviewers seem about as strict about reviewing one's book as publisher do about publishing it.

I'll pass along some other helpful advice I got from the father of a friend, too: don't let the bastards get you down. Well... it was meaningful to me

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