Thursday, November 16, 2017

Either, or

"I want them to be great writers."

I'm not sure why I jumped at that, but I did, as if I didn't need, or want, to hear anything else. Thinking back, there wasn't an ounce of pause in me, not a mote of modesty to wonder at my inability to help with that, or to wonder just how far I had to go to be great myself. Today I start a new job with that as my mission statement.

Some years back, a bunch actually, my mentor told me about his lament at discovering the distinction between "a writer who teaches" and a "teacher who writes," and how he had looked up in recent days and discovered that he had become the latter, and the former, his goal, had gotten away from him who knows when. Like a lot of my lessons, I recall thinking to myself, "well, I don't want that to happen to me." So far, it hasn't.

Speaking of things that haven't been happening. NaNoSubMo is tanking. I started research only yesterday about publishing and submitting and agents. I learned that August is known as the Dead Month, and is a industry-wide period where most gate keepers take vacations. That was interesting enough. I also began the slow, slow process of combing through agent entries, looking for what I have no idea. The right smiling face or a write-up. Everything I've read so far seems to imply that step 1 is accruing a list of agents that are looking for manuscript(s) like mine, and step 2 is develop submission packets to the letter for each. Step 3 is send them all. Non-discriminatory submission, big small near far. I cannot help but think of the Last Starfighter. Spinning in a frenzy shooting in all directions, and then the panicked calm, the nothing and the waiting and the hoping.

And to counter that, as always, the writing is going well. I'm still in the brainstorming phase, linking together concepts and ideas and researching the tactile aspects of what I'll be writing about, what the characters will see, how those things will affect the story, and where the story will be able to go as a result. I have a soft date with a friend to let her poke holes in what I've got set up, a safety check before I actually put weight on things to make sure nothing falls through. After that, I think I will be just about ready to commit to a chapter, and then another. These stages are familiar, these steps, even though they are a little different every time. As per usual, these realizations led me to decide I had learned something about myself. I tried out my knowledge on a friend, to which they say "I could've told you that."

So, there are some things that I am hesitant to be sure about. I have a certain disdain for arrogance, and I think it's foolish to assume that one knows anything. And then there are things that move me to action prior to even a whisper of thought. I jaunt, and before I know it I'm somewhere else.


Saturday, November 4, 2017

I digress

I think I need to go camping.

Let me back up.

The submission is done. That one is. Going in, I thought that I would wash my mind of the stress, distract myself after all the triple checking and document attaching with trying to start and then to finish the next story. It is November after all, and I've avoided NaNoWriMo every year someone has asked. I was either in the middle of something, or just finished something else. I finished the submission process November 1, so it only made sense.

Except they only allowed one novel per author. I had worked on sharpening three. One fell out because they didn't want that kind of story, and another because, well, there was only one hole and I had two pegs. Instead of feeling like I was ready to move on, I felt like the task wasn't done. I finally looked up the Atlanta Writer's Conference details, and learned how many weeks I was late. They have agents, from publishers most people have heard of. And they have a finite number of slots for people to sit down and have their work critiqued. Every last slot of every last editor was full. I realized then what a lot of people already knew: getting in the door is very important and even more difficult. Never mind the money. So, I did some nodding, and made a little promise to myself not to be late next year. I thought up NaNoSubMo (the Sub is for Submission) with the intent to find homes for the other two novels I wasn't doing anything with.

That stalled when I walked face first into another story. It was one of those really obvious, low hanging kinds of situations. A haystack of needles in a forest. Or something. I talked with a friend about it, because it was through observing him that the idea occurred to me. The people in my life are kind. I got nothing but encouragement. I was with this friend to pick his brain about something else, is the irony. He's an outdoorsman and off-roader and possessor of other word salad titles, and I've known for a while that my next book has survivalist elements. There will be camping and climbing and scrounging. Squatting outdoors and filtering rain water. I cannot express to you how far the real life me is from such ideas. And I wanted to keep it that way. But the mentor I mention a lot in this space gave me the advice to write what I know, and I've found it to be true that when two authors describe pulling on a rope, the one that has actually used their back and felt the bite on their palms has a deeper reservoir to pull from. So, if I want to know what it's like to track game over land, then...

So, here we are. At the beginning of NaNoSubMo, and I'm already not doing what I decided to be doing. If I'm being honest, I don't know the first thing about finding publishers. I know that I have found some in the past, and they come in many different flavors, at varying levels of quality. What I don't know is how to find the ones I need to be looking for. I know what I want. I ever know what I don't want. So I guess this will be another one of those journeys, marked by scrapes on the palms and sore elbows from all the falling.

I really hope this isn't what actual hunting is like.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Am for now

Tomorrow is the first day of the open submission period I've been aiming at with all the recent refinements and edits. Honestly, I finished the last, latest read-through a week early. Early morning head aches and close-faced line reading made for some dizzying moments. I felt better and worse about everything at the same time. I took a couple days off and went back through the submission guidelines again. Last year they got over 1200 entries, and 300 were rejected because the authors failed to follow instructions. Recent events prompted me to go through some extreme measures to ensure I wouldn't be in that unfortunate group.

A one-sentence summary and a synopsis no longer than two, double-spaced, 12-point Times New Roman font pages. At first, I thought I had three books to send, then I read how they don't want young adult. Then I did some heavy deliberation on what young adult fiction is and how the term is defined. What clinched it, I think, is that when I went to write a sentence to summarize the book, or a synopsis to concisely detail its qualities, I kept coming back to the phrase "coming of age." I couldn't betray the story by trying to wedge it into a box any more than I could do the work a disservice by mislabeling it. I was also a little surprised at how easy the summaries and synopses came. I had a moment where I thought it was going to be a painful hurdle, was going to be difficult (after all, I freeze up at the thought of the elevator pitch), and then in the next moment the sentences were coming to me. I also thought it would be difficult because I could remember the last time I stopped to seriously make some submissions. Things were harder then.

I worked on them yesterday, the sentences the synopses, in the morning. I set them down and circled back at lunch, when I looked over them again, and fiddled with the diction, the cadence, the punctuation. I peeked one more time before bed, and I got up today to rinse and repeat. Sometime in the night a west coast writer friend traded some thoughts with me. I lamented the idea that synopses seem, on principle, to be a kind of deflowering, an unveiling of all the discovery and nuance. I once heard a story of a young woman auditioning to be an exotic dancer. A shady man in a shady office told her to disrobe completely while checking his fantasy team's scoring. He explained in matter of fact terms to her horrified face that he had to sample the goods before he could put them on display. My west coast friend opined that there could be some mystery, that it needed to be alluring in its own way, even as it revealed everything the story was. I woke up with that on my mind and went back to work.

I feel confident that I have done my due diligence. And because I so often feel that way, I have come to really despise luck, on a fundamental level. I rather prefer the control of direct input and output. I pull the lever, the door opens. But that just isn't how it works with the kinds of opportunity people dream about. We work, and we work, and we work, all the while hoping that it would result in something commensurate. That we can tabulate the bitter alchemy of how much sweat, and how much blood, is equivalent to a mote of success. Sometimes it is very difficult to be satisfied that we tried our best, yet still fell flat on our faces for reasons outside of our control. I met a person recently who admitted that she had done very little work, that she had an agent waiting, and that she just couldn't commit to putting words down.

I caught up with another friend, too, local, but I still never see her. She's a dreamer, like so many of the people I get along with are dreamers, and in the time since we last saw each other she had earned some mentors in her field, and definitive numbers for what she had to achieve to get to where she wanted to go. I was really happy for her. I was also really happy for myself, relieved to remember that I had those kinds of people still in my life. Another item that had to go into the submission package was a paragraph about me, the author. I didn't mention it, but dredging up who I was made me remember who I came from, and how my parents and I don't talk about my stories, or my dreams. Haven't for years. And maybe there's something to unpack in all of that, but in every way, I want nothing more than to abandon that on the nearest flat surface and distract myself with things I can control.

I want to go, so badly, and have no idea where I'm headed.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Playing up

I recently posed a question to a creative professional I know. I presented to him this comparison, a created work completed in ones mid to late 20s, which was over time revisited and in some ways reimagined, versus the second or third draft of a piece completed years later, early to mid 30s. The ages are arbitrary. What I was getting at is one piece was done without the benefit of the extra years of wisdom and understanding, but it was edited and retooled, whereas the other was less modified but it benefitted the most from all available years of experience.

His first answer was not an answer. He saw what I was getting at, at what I was really trying to investigate, and he said, "some ideas are just better than others." That struck a cord with me, but more on that later. I further clarified that it wasn't about good or bad, it was more about what is more valuable, what should, everything else being equal, be the better work, the one we complete at our most experienced, or the one we complete with the most diligence? Then he said, "the one I work on the most will be the most technically sound," with no hesitation. We talked about the gestation period of ideas, and how they many times benefit from going back and working them over again, holding them upside down and shaking them vigorously.

I have finished the first read through of the number of novels I plan on submitting come November. I intended to start on my sci-fi piece, the oldest one, the one I went back and completely re-wrote, the one on its latest draft. I meant to start there because in the back of my mind, I considered it the weakest. I defaulted to thinking that my newer stories were better, not just because they were newer, but because of what them being newer meant. Like the conversation with  my friend, each of them was standing on the one that came before it, each work below it was a kind of creative soil that it was able to benefit from in growing. But as usual, I did not start on that novel. The novel I finished working through was the middle child. Initially I had intended to send it off to a couple readers, and just wanted to make sure the beginning was as crisp as I could manage. Much like a pencil in a sharpener, I just kept going. A week passed, and I had chucked my strategy out of the nearest window.

Yesterday I finally started on the sci fi offering. It was not what I remembered it to be. Since finishing its latest draft, I've written two other novels, and been mostly satisfied with them both. I suppose my excitement over those dimmed my fascination with the other. I wouldn't say it is a bad story. It has a certain density that fools one into remembering that things that happened earlier in the book happened later, that stretches the summary of "things that happened" over the novel's breadth. I looked around for the person that had stolen my confidence in what was, at worst, a very decent effort. Of course, there was no one about but Time. I began to suspect that absence and fondness don't have as good a marriage as most think. I also wondered at the words, that some ideas are simply better than others, and how to decide who I loved more between my children.

All of that is to say I am working. The novels are getting better, and I strive to make that a truth everyday.

I told that same friend that I was thinking of going back to working on plays. My first effort was terrible, the kind of terrible that makes a person quit and do something else immediately. He confided in me that he had a similar experience, that somewhere among his papers was a play he wrote in undergrad that was maybe the worst thing he had ever done. He interrupted my asking if he would show it to me by saying that I would never see it. The reason I told him that I wanted to go back and work on plays is because I had done such a terrible job. I suppose to some degree I thought I was better than what I produced, but it wasn't so much that I gave up because it was bad, more that I left it alone because I had no idea about how to fix it. Plays I've read recently, bad ones, high school ones, showered me with insight about what not to do, and in so not doing, what to do. The idea that I could improve, or maybe rectify an error, has been persistently consuming. My friend admitted that he almost always took the easy path. His career decision was him playing to his strengths, and he is very successful.

Whereas it feels very often like I am making the difficult choice for the sake of its challenge. But I can't help but think about what we earn when we overcome walls of varying heights and the difference in those rewards. They say you learn more from failure. They say failure proves that you're trying.

I'm still not sure yet if I someday want to be among they, or not.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Gain pain

It's been years since I started this, and I'll be the first admit that I haven't done a good job. I don't write often enough. I don't put in pictures or links, both of which would make me more internet savvy, beyond creating a better looking and more digestible online essay. But I've always committed to this in the spirit that maybe I could help some people by being honest with my own struggles. At least, should anyone ever ask me for advice, that's how I plan on giving it. Don't take this road, or don't open that door. I will, with the best of my talent, tell them what road I took, what door I opened, and how it all looked when the wash came out.

In that spirit: feedback. Once upon a time I submitted 7 of the 11 pages of a short story for a competition. I got called into my mentor's office, where he asked me to look at my submission, and then asked my confused face if I noticed anything wrong. He told me to be careful about that in the future. I went on to get first place in a contest I should've lost outright. Networking. I bring that up because I did almost that exact thing just the other week. A file for submission, the first 10 thousand words of a novel (a separate file), was not the same first 10 thousand words of the latest copy, because I did not update all of my files correctly. I was rejected. There is no guarantee that the result would've been different had they seen the best version of that story, but that doesn't excuse my negligence. This same file was given to a couple readers for feedback, in preparation for this march to November where I will be putting all of my feet forward, and hopefully they'll all be pretty good. All of that is to say, the file had issues apparent enough to me that I had strongly edited it into something else.

"I left out minor problems and grammatical edits because I do narrative design and I think that's more important. If you do further work on this I would like to know. It sounds like a mix of Dragon Age and Witcher which I absolutely love. My criticism was much harsher this go around because I didn't think this was as polished as your last and also because I believe it has potential and flowery praise wouldn't help you one bit.

"Too many metaphors/similes/comparisons. These were used almost as a crutch for your writing. A metaphor can really push your work when done well, but too many can ruin your writing. Comparisons ran rampant to the point of being confusing...

"I really liked the characters and their backstories. Each are interesting, but the way they were delivered needs work because I couldn't finish this story."

Versus

"It looks like you're headed into good, solid fantasy territory - the pre-Renaissance European parallels the market seems to expect. You're doing a good job setting up your co-protagonists in parallel. I already like them both...

"Your prose still has those lovely turns and embellishments I've envied all these years. That's pleasant to see again... the world seems a little thin to me, though. A bit dreamlike. Like dreams, it's occasionally missing sensory elements. Smells, temperatures, defining cultural elements, emphases on local crops or herds of the stamps on places of local personalities... it could just be me and my love of description, which I know many people hate...

"But for all that, I'm damned curious about the history that led to the situation you've set up, and how the magic words, and how it goes bad. I'm definitely engaged."

And versus isn't even the right word, not really. I think the larger point is that any creative type is bound to get a lot of feedback, and the most important bit is how one responds to it. Honestly, it took me a day to process the first one, and I was immediately ecstatic to receive the second. But the fact of the matter is I have way more rejections than acceptances, and it would be foolish to think that they're all wrong, and I'm all right. The truth is probably I didn't prepare as well as I could have, in regards to researching who I submitted to and what they were looking for, and that at least a couple of the places didn't give my work the diligent perusing it deserved. The fact very well could be that the feedback I dislike the most is the kind I need most to absorb. Advice I've been given over the years rolls between listening to all of it, and taking in none of it. Grain of salt, I think is the common wisdom. Through it all, whatever I end up revealing reflects on me, so no matter who it displeases, or confuses, it will still bear the likeness of my spirit, so I should be satisfied, if no one else is.

It's a troublesome recipe. I guess, the short version is, for whoever might be listening, getting better is probably supposed to hurt.
 

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Be-foresight

I took an email journey the other day, looking for a name to put with a face, and realized that all of the accounts I still use only go back to 2012. In every case, when I got to the beginning, I peered into the mists for awhile, trying to use my memory where there existed no physical record. The strange juxtaposition was between knowing I had history, memories, correspondences, but there was no way for me to verify any of it. Like it never happened.

For instance, in November of 2006 my mentor took me to the local, yearly writer's conference. Graduation was coming, and I had finally settled on what would be stamped on my degree. I had taken every creative writing class, every writing class of any kind, my alma mater had to offer. He was the one who told me I could do it for a living. He was the one who told me I had talent. He was also the one who told me that if I did anything else with my life, I would make more money. What he said at the conference was something to the effect of "go, look around, ask questions."

Eleven years later, I think I get it. Networking is important. Part of the deal is doing the work, the research, the notes, the drafts, the sketches, the pages and pages and pages and pages. Another part of the deal is telling people that you are doing the work. Every now and then I tell my friends. Even rarer, some of them will even ask. Writer friends, whom I try to support because I know how much I need it, but with very little beyond encouragement. One of the last people I told referenced me to someone else, who directed me to yet another website about things I felt I already knew. Scrolling down though, I found some posts with the heading "How I Found My Agent." These I clicked on. These, I thought, would finally contain some useful information. I read about the rejections. I read about the waiting. I read about the frustration. Then I read about how the person was recommended by someone else, who was given the name of a specific agent that the other person knew. It wasn't magic. It didn't even sound like hard work.

So when he said to go and look and ask questions, that is exactly what he meant. I can't be sure, but I know I did a lot of looking. I certainly went. But I passed through that conference like a ghost, speaking to no one, and being spoken to by no one. The following summer I was offered a prestigious opportunity where I workshopped with professional authors at a retreat on a distant college campus. I took one picture, I memorized no names. I left with a phone number, which I used once or twice, but otherwise the only thing I took from it was more repetitions from different mentors. Thinking back now, the conference was the result of networking. I wouldn't have known it existed otherwise, much less could've attended. My mentor bought my ticket, and drove me there. The same for the writer retreat. Someone, somewhere, was looking out for me.

And the drop of knowledge didn't fall into the well of my understanding until ten years later.

So, the novel is complete. After the third draft read-through, it is a serviceable 76,000 words or thereabouts. I am taken to using "finished, not perfect" and am waiting on feedback to see if there are other things that could still be done to make it just a little better. Because I found out (because someone told me) that a publisher is opening its doors to submission for the month of November. I have three novels completed, so the current plan is to submit all three. November is also the month of the writers conference, the one with industry professionals, publishers, and agents. I don't speak much with the man who took me over a decade ago. We exchange texts on his birthday, and he tells me to write something. Much like that relationship, I am also not the same person. I do make some of the same mistakes. But I am so much more durable in regards to rejection, and I have developed a certain measure of confidence in my eventual success. I have no proof, but it is as real to me as the memory of something I deeply regret.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Missing words

Silver Age is up, and for sale. I made the mistake of checking the sales on the self-publishing interface. The lesson was painful, but also valuable. Honestly, I learned a lot during that process. Not least of which is what the mastery of Photoshop can do for an artist. It's such a ubiquitous concept that I misappropriated the use of the program with the population of the skill. The fact of the matter is, it is very, very powerful and expensive software, and it allows for an incredible range of manipulation. I am not sure how yet, but I vow to do better with my cover artists in the future. I also have a better appreciation for the work publishers do. There will always be disputes, I think, but I also believe it was good to see how the other side toils.

In the mean time, I have been writing, as per usual. The novel has a handful of chapters yet, with today's drafting, and the nightmares are right on time. Several ideas mashed together the other night and a horribly, monstrous story was the result, stitched together and unable to articulate its own misery. I did not wake up in a cold sweat, but there was a chill in me, to think that I had done it all for nothing. All of that is to say, I've almost gotten it all down, and the realization that it might suck is on the moment's heals.

For completed novels, I was discouraged by the editor getting back to me with the "something's come up" email. I felt the door closing again, but the idea occurred to me that I didn't have to go through her. Maybe the other editors at the publisher would remember me. She did say they all wanted to see work from me in the future. Maybe they'll remember? They got back to me with the "we'll get back to you" email. So, on that front, I am again exercising patience. I have no way of knowing if I'm better at this than I was five years ago, or ten. If I'm being honest, it feels like I'm worse, but who really knows.

The next project is growing in my mind almost every day. I don't have anything to compare it to, but it feels really good sometimes, to be fertile with these things. The latest idea will likely usurp an older one which, while I put all available thought and effort into it, might have just been inherently flawed. I look at novels I wrote even three years ago, and the ones I'm working on and thinking about now, and I can detect certain shifts in how I go about things. I feel like I learn something new every time. Sometimes, without meaning to, I catch glimpses of the kinds of writers I want my career to emulate, and the amount of gray hair I see makes me marvel at how much I might learn by the time I get to that point. I see other things, too, that I won't comment on at this time.

This latest particular lesson revolved around missing words. On several occasions, I've had entire chapters deleted, or discovered that a given section was just headed in the wrong direction. I've scrapped, even lost, sections before, but this time around it has been much more conscious. I paced my apartment yesterday as the power flickered thinking about the unease I was experiencing about the latest drafted section. I thought about what it was not doing, and where it was leading things, what needed to happen, and how that led things in a more interesting direction. It feels like the most mindful I've been to date, and some other things clicked into place.

I hate admitting how the downs make the ups that much more satisfying. 

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Maybe it's me

I've been accused of being a fixer, on more than one occasion. Something happens, something negative, and the person wants to share, or vent, or commiserate. All I can ever focus on is how to fix it, change it, prevent it from happening again. Today I received some very disappointing news dealing with my own situation, and my first reaction was to tinker. I was relieved to know that I'm nothing if not consistent, and I was able to fully understand why I am not apt to passively mourn. I thought, well, I'm going to be sad, and this is going to be difficult, that's the easy part. That part happens whether I am productive or not. I also thought that maybe it was somehow my fault, and looking back, I recognized that I usually assume that's the case. That it's safer to believe that it's my fault, that somehow that is the less arrogant conclusion. Or maybe if it's my fault, I don't forfeit control.

I haven't blogged, naturally. I went into a frenzy over the last rejection, driven to figure out what I had done wrong, what needed to be fixed in my writing to get me higher. I learned some things again, in that quest. Not all editors are good, and not all editors are good matches. I came across more of that vague kind of feedback that is repeated often enough in books about writing, tips, and tricks, and techniques, methodologies for how to write publishable fiction. My core rejected such notions, feeling strongly that great works have been read, and envied, and studied, and all of the how-to's were developed based on patterns, tendencies, and commonalities found following failed attempts at duplication. Whereas my belief about such things is much more spiritual than mechanical. My earliest doctrine was that good writing gets published. I only speak to that mentor on birthdays, and yet I still believe it.

I have been doing the work. A friend suggested an online project sharing software, and I eventually caved. I think it works. There is a record out there in the cloud, an electric file detailing what I want to accomplish, and my progress in all of those things. It exposes me, and my sloth, and that itch of accountability compels me to work. Because I am familiar with failure, but I never want the reason I did not succeed to be that I did not try hard enough. Consequently, the latest project is on wheels. Chapter 9 is in the works, and I have the first six chapters sent out to readers, to get some perspective on what the novel is, or could be, to someone other than myself. I also have formatting being conducted to self publish a novella I wrote some years back. It seemed time. This process has introduced me to figuring out cover art, and the many entry fields of Amazon, along with editor rates, and editor results. I want to know what it's like; I want to add that arrow to my quiver.

I also recently spoke to a friend about hopes and dreams, in regards to what it takes to create the circumstances where those things can be realized. I understood, through that interaction, that the people I respected most in my life were the ones making that transition, were toiling to change something only they could see into something everyone could believe. I know enough of those people that interacting with someone who just talked about what they wanted and then never did it was an unusual occurrence. I couldn't imagine that, even now, in the pit of my latest failure. I thought something was going to happen, thought something was going to work out, but it was just another mirage. And yet, I cannot feel totally defeated.

I suppose because there are also miracles. I had a second chance at a first impression. A friend read my work, and was friendly about the feedback. They liked it, they said. They thought it was good, they said. They offered to edit it. I did not turn down the opportunity to have a better version of one of my stories, at worst different. When they read it, sincerely, it became something else for them. They came back with questions, and excitement. They realized it was really good. It took me some time to absorb the kindness of their initial dishonesty, at the same time as the pleasure of feeling adequate. However it did take the second read. Not the kind of reading, I imagined, that occurred over the slush bin, where many of my previous efforts were discarded. So, some providence to go along with the calamity.

Feeling crushed beneath boulders makes me feel stronger. I wonder if this is what madness feels like.


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.