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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

"for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction...blah, blah, blah..."

Anyone who has ever created something and then tried to put it out for all to see knows this axiom too well. I'm fairly certain that the roads in Hell are paved with rejection letters and poor reviews! Does that sound bitter? Well it should, because bitterness is a layer you have to eat through before you get to the sweet part of the publication parfait.
Some, OK, most can never get past that sad little fact. However, if you hold your nose and swallow quickly, the rewards are sweet, I promise you. Not necessarily financially rewarding, if that is how you measure success. But to my mind, and in my own experience, seeing your work on a shelf in the library is far more gratifying.
Whether you wind up in print, hanging in a gallery, playing on the airwaves, on the big screen, on the little screen, or echoing through a concert hall, the only time you'll smile brighter is at the birth of your children. Actually, to a very real extent, seeing your work through to fruition is a lot like creating life and giving birth. Each involves pleasure and pain, and each invoke two emotions that stay with you forever, pride and fear.
Does that sound sappy? Well it should because it is! It just goes to show you that not everything that gets written down is a pearl of wisdom. In fact, if I had saved all of the crumbled wads of paper strewn around my office/bedroom while I was writing The Migrant, and buried them in my backyard, I am pretty sure a fine garden would have sprouted thanks the natural fertilizer that occasionally makes its way from my brain to my medium of choice. Not that everything edited out of my novel was crap, but, I digress.
OK, my point. Simply put, breaking out of obscurity is really hard. At the very least a long row to hoe. Unless you're very very lucky, very very connected, or very very well known already, it is a jail break that you'll have to make on your own. That was a sad realization for me, but one I got over quickly. The adulation and encouragement from family and friends was fine armor in the beginning. But, to get where I wanted to go I would need to develop rhinoceros skin and a deaf ear because the path to publication is littered with nay sayers and detractors.
Fortunately my parents instilled in me a willingness to try and not fear failure, but learn from it. A tactic that I would use throughout my life with generally favorable results. Although if you were to ask my parents about this they would likely deny it or at the very least post a caveat stating that they never actually encouraged me to fail quite so often. Gee, thanks Mom & Dad.
So, after buying the BIG BOOK OF PUBLISHERS AND AGENTS I set to work to find someone to help me, convinced that there would be dozens of eager supporters within those pages.
I learned to write query letters and sent sample pages and chapters to nearly everyone in the book. Then I sat back and waited, in no time at all I would be on my way! Weeks went by, then months, then the letters began arriving. Some cordial, some not so cordial. Some just form letters, some in longhand. Some were down right rude, and some were nothing more than my query letter and sample pages, shredded, and stuffed back into my own SASE! And a few, albiet a very few mind you, were returned unopened with large stamped messages across the original address reading either a polite "Return to Sender" or a not so polite "Do NOT darken our doors anymore with your unsolicited submissions...ASSWIPE!"
Oh Brother...

next post..."stay the course, there's more than one way to skin a cat, so they say..."

Monday, April 7, 2008

"pick em up and lay em down"

Like any bricklayer will tell you, this is a mantra that works for EVERYONE! It applies to all aspects of life. Like sharks, people must be in a constant state of motion, physically or mentally, consciously or subconsciously. Every day we labor at something. Each night, while we're sound asleep, our minds continue to labor as our subconscious dreams the dreams we build on or work toward when we wake. Like Yogi says (Berra - not Bear), "it ain't over til its over."
So, what's my point you ask? My point is that as people we are masters at talking ourselves out of anything. Sometimes that's good, sometimes that's not so good. If you talk yourself out of a bad situation, that's good. If you talk yourself out of a good opportunity, that's bad. When do you find out which you've done? After its over!
Many of us that have dreamed of writing something for posterity, like a novel, have all started the same way, enthusiastically. Some of us are stopped by the first page, some by the very first chapter, some by the first reading, some by the first rejection. Writing is no more complicated that sticking to your guns. One dreams, one adapts, one molds their dreams into consciousness. One builds and expands on their dreams, breathes life into them then weaves them into a story, a novel, the author's most intimate thoughts laid out for all to see. Sounds easy enough doesn't it? So why doesn't everybody write a novel? Good question! Actually, it's my firm belief that EVERYONE has at least one novel inside of them.
The stumbling block is always perseverance. The common denominator in all successful publication attempts is perseverance! It's a simple formula really. "Pick em up and lay em down." Line by line, paragraph by paragraph, page by page, chapter by chapter. Are you picking up what 'm laying down? By the way I borrowed hat line from my brother Chuck. Where he first heard it God only knows! Anyway, it took me 40 years to grasp this concept. But, once I did it was "Katy bar the door!" With that understanding, that slight change in how I approached things, I was on my way to a whole new me. Eleven months, two weeks, and 3 days later, "The Migrant" was written and ready to start on the submission trail (of tears).
So, phase one was complete, I had a manuscript. Next, Phase two, convincing someone, anyone, that I had a product!

next post..."for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction...(physics 101)"

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

nobody scores from the bench...

Sorry about the late post, my best intentions were trumped by my call to duty as Fia & Eli's Granddad...:P

So, where were we? Oh yes, chapter one is in the can, now what! Well, actually chapter one went on a tour of family and close friends while I shamelessly basked in praise and self gratification. How long you ask...about 6 weeks. Yeah, that's right, I said six weeks! Why so long you add? Well, its sort of like after you finish a really terrific holiday meal, like Thanksgiving and such. You're full, stuffed actually, and you're thinking (out loud probably), "I'm never eating again!" In other words, you could say that I got lazy, set the bar too low and contented myself with what I had written so far. A really good short story.
Then came the evening when I had surfed EVERY channel my cable company offered. The Yankees weren't playing and football season was months away. So, bored, I wandered back to my bedroom/office and flipped on my computer. I sat and stared at my crashing surf screen saver for about twenty minutes before I clicked on my "Migrant" folder and opened the only file in there, "chapter one." I read it again, with a fresh pair of eyes and a little too much pride. Then I read it again. And while I was going through it a third time I put in my earphones and queued up the soundtrack from "Amelie."
Almost instantly my mind began to wander, and I found myself daydreaming about a road trip I had taken through New England in the Fall of 1996. I had been on a business trip to upstate New York and had taken the opportunity to visit the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. The beautiful countryside and small town atmosphere left a real impression on me, more than I had realized. The kind of impression that can transport you back in time whenever you're able to conjure up those memories. The brilliant autumn colors, the small town chatter overheard in diners and on street corners, the unfamiliar yet totally recognizable surroundings, and the overwhelming feeling of belonging.
Somewhere in the middle of that dream with the soft sounds of that French soundtrack in my head, Ethan Kelly, his family & friends, and his complete back story were born. Twelve hours later the next three chapters had been written. the framework for "The Migrant" had been laid down, and I was on my way to authorhood!

next post...picking them up and laying them down

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