Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Honesty

So I've done enough whining.

I saw a low-level MMA fight once where the fight ended just because one of the guys got tired of getting hit.  It wasn't a ref stoppage, he wasn't being submitted, in fact, he was still on his feet.  He had taken a few shots to the face and decided that maybe fighting wasn't for him, and he quit.  I remember saying to the guys I was with that if you can't take getting punched in the face, maybe you should take up a different sport.  Maybe checkers, or golf, or tennis, where you rarely get attacked by opponents.

I know that I will be rejected.  I know that this will not be the last time that someone isn't scooping what I am pooping, so to speak.  After the thing gets picked up by an agent, I will still have to endure the hope and disappointment when they are trying to sell it to a publisher.  After that, people will (hopefully) read it.  They will for whatever reason, feel compelled to get on Twitter and call me a moron or a monster, they will review it and describe everything that is wrong with it.  Maybe I will do a signing and nobody will show up except for a couple of homeless guys that just want the free coffee.  Unless I'm ready to take up golf or tennis, I'd better be able to take a punch, right?  Right.

But that doesn't change the fact that it hurts.  It hurts to get punched in the face, it hurts to get rejected.  I see no reason to try and hide that.  If I set out to try and capture the journey of having a completed manuscript and attempting to get it published, then I have nothing to gain by not recording my disappointment and self-doubt as well as my hope and triumph.  I am proud of what I have done.  It was hard, and sometimes painful and I did it.  I finished a novel. Now I'm being told that it doesn't fit anywhere, they want YA dystopian vampire novels to sell to 13 year old girls to go with their One Direction albums.

That is unfair.  It's not that bad; nobody has asked for my soul.  Yet.

I love writing.  I do it well.  I can't run very fast, I have no idea how to change the oil in my car, and the last time I tried to dance in public somebody called an ambulance because they were sure I was having a grand mal, but dammit, I'm good at this.  I don't know why, or how it happened, but this is what I have.  People read my stuff and they generally like it.  The book is good.  The new book I am writing right now has a chance to be great.  I am blessed with talent and determination and am surrounded by supportive and patient and loving people. 

Forgive my indulgence in self pity and doubt, but if there were a writer working on their first novel and they somehow stumbled across this, I would want them to know to expect to get punched in the face, I would want them to know that it will hurt, and I would want them to know that they should keep on going, they should not listen to that bastard voice whispering poison and lies.  I would want them to know that I will be honest here, that I am genuinely exposing my wounds so nobody goes into this blind.  You get hit, you get cut and you bleed and you cry and you fall down.  And that's fine.

As long as you remember to get back up, shake it off, and keep moving forward.  

So I'm done whining.  For now.  Until the next rejection, at least.

Cheers.  RP



     


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Rejected! (again)

"My Mother did me the great disservice of telling me that I could do anything I wanted.  I believed her.  I believed every lie anyone has ever told me, including the big lies like 'everything will be all right'."
-Ralph Pullins, "Family Stories" (unpublished)

I have been rejected again.  Twice, actually, since the last time I have written about this.  Judging from my choice of quotes above (mine this time), I am ...displeased.

For those keeping score at home, I am now 0 for 3.

So what, right?  Now is where I go and read a bunch of stories about how Dr Seuss was fired from an advertising job because he was deemed not creative enough, or about how Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team, about how some incredible writer was rejected again and again, and shit, yeah, OK, I know all that but really this stuff means the same to me as the poster over the chair at my dentist of the bulldog wearing boxing gloves that reads "hang tough."  Yes, no doubt, all these things are true to some degree, but for every story like that, there's got to be thousands, millions of stories that just went untold because the person that got rejected over and over and over got tired of getting beat up and just fucking quit.  The trouble with all these platitudes is that I'm not Dr Seuss, I'm not Jordan.  I'm just some guy that wrote some stuff, not a legend.

 Here's the thing I have been thinking of: terrible writers don't know that they suck. I have been to a few writers conferences, have attended a few Creative Writing classes, and I know for sure that there are people out there that just suck.  I don't want to be the one to say it, but it is true.  I am not talking about people that write things that I'm just not into, mysteries about plucky elderly ladies solving crimes with their cats, or bodice ripper period romances, or rich girl in the city just seeking Mr. right, no, those things all have merit and value and have their own place on shelves everywhere (just maybe not mine).  I'm talking about just straight up terrible writing happily and confidently submitted for peer review.  That writer doesn't know that they suck, and it seems to fall to agents and publishers and lit mag editors to tell them that their writing sucks.  What I have been thinking about is: What if that is me, and all this time nobody has had the heart to tell me?

It's not me.  I know it.  I know, when I'm not allowing myself the luxurious wallow in self pity and doubt, that the book is solid, that it just needs to get into the right hands, that I should be glad when I get rejected because I don't want it to be in the hands of an agent or publisher that doesn't believe in it the way I do.  I should be grateful. 

I may not be a legend, but I certainly don't suck.

I believe.  Honestly.

But there is still that voice, that poisonous bastard hiding somewhere in my psyche telling me that I'm not special, asking me who the hell do I think I am, what do I have to offer anyone, why am I wasting my time trying to be something I am not...

I hate it.

  

  

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Messages in a bottle

I think there must be something wrong with me.

The other day I passed ten thousand words on my new novel.  It's a milestone for me; it means that the new book is a real thing, not just an idea for a book, but it is becoming a significant piece of writing (and a good one, I think).  I'm excited about it, and the words seem to come out of my head and onto the page pretty easily so far, and a few magical times I have had that experience where things just seem to flow out from some external source as if I'm just a conduit, and the direction and concepts that are happening on the page don't even seem to be coming from me at all, that writing sweetspot where things work better than I could have planned for...

And it is awesome.

However, I still have an unpublished, unrepresented, largely unread novel that is just hanging out on my computer, waiting.  And I think: Why are you sacrificing all of your evenings, all of your lunch hours writing when nobody cares?  I sometimes feel as if I'm on an island, writing messages, and putting them in a bottle, and throwing them into the ocean, hoping that someone somewhere will read one, will like it, will in some way give a shit that I do this.

I think of Poe dying penniless and forgotten, John Kennedy O'Toole, the suicide, if it weren't for his mother harassing literary people to read it, we would never have gotten Confederacy of Dunces, it would have remained in a drawer somewhere until someone threw it in the burn barrel doing spring cleaning.

I read somewhere that every writer lies, either about how hard it was or about how easy it was.  For me, the writing is easy, the idea generation is easy.  I've heard of writers block, but that has never been my problem. 

What's hard for me is forcing it into my life, finding the time to do it, finding a reason to do it.  What's hard  for me is finishing anything.  Whats hard for me is seeing it through to the end.  I just got an idea for a new novel, one that I'm certain that I will take a swing at someday.  It is an exciting concept, and one that I'm very excited to explore.  What's hard for me is not abandoning my ten thousand word manuscript to start something new.  What's hard for me is nobody caring.  When Antiartists sees print someday, and someone feels compelled to tell me everything that is wrong with it, that will be crushing to me, I'm sure.

What is really hard is being patient, and waiting for a bottle to come back to me on my island.

Meanwhile, I'm still here, and I've got a (hopefully) endless supply of messages and bottles.