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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..."

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