Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Settling the glass issue once and for all...

I don't really think it's a question of one's glass being half-empty or half-full anymore. There's always that other neglected half, which is still something even if it's just air. At any rate, I've had an interesting day...actually an interesting week (yes already) and I've decided that when you get less than desired results at the same time as positive circumstances, it's more like your glass is full of both beautiful, clear mountain spring water, and a bit of that inevitable dirty sediment that you find in such water.

Okay, I'll stop with the similes/analogies (I love them, though. My poor mentor Alice Mattison would be well-served if there was such a technology as the analogy-detector, which could just go through and highlight them all for the writer to rip, blood and guts and all, from the text).

Blowing Smoke?

So I got an interesting rejection from an agent today that I was feeling hopeful about(how else does one feel when one is anticipating something, though, I guess?). Interesting, because she said all manner of nice things like, "the writing is really good," and "I think you will easily find someone anxious to take it on," and "I will be keeping an eye out for news of a sale." Nice, big, generous statements that, if one must get a rejection, are all the right things for that rejection to say. The problem is I never believe them when they say nice things. I think they are just trying to soften the blow. I wish she hadn't used the painfully hackneyed phrase about "not falling in love" with the project. As I have said before, I don't need a marriage proposal, just a nice platonic contract to sell my baby.

Still, in the midst of this rejection I got a simple email from one of the publications I write for that is about to put out a call for a full-time writer. She asked if I was interested, and while six months ago I would have been, I said no, but would they still like me to freelance? And her answer was, "I'm delighted to have you continue freelancing." Now, for some reason that phrase struck me in a whole new magnificent way. For one thing, this editor is not particularly effusive. She's neat, professional and to the point, which is actually what I like about her. But that word "delighted" tucked in the midst of her sentence felt as if she had kissed both my cheeks the way the French do and offered me a glass of her most expensive wine and a seat on the velvet divan. In other words, despite that I always pick out the negative as evidenced by my statement about the agent's nice comments, for once I saw the shining jewel of a positive and I plucked it out and held it in my hand and admired it. It was a good feeling.

In other news of the mundane, there are still two agents interested in my work, and I do believe that with persistence (and possibly, perspicacity), I will acquire a new agent. Though maybe I'll spark the interest of a small publisher instead on my own. I really don't know. I know that I want, more than anything else on my list of desires, to publish my novels. And not just one of them, but the two I've completed and the one that I'm in the midst of writing now.

I also had an interesting conversation with an editor from a well-respected small publisher (read= independent, not corporate owned) for an article I'm writing that was interesting, revealing and fun. He let loose and really talked about his frustrations and desires. I felt like we were pals. He invited me to visit their San Francisco office. I was mortified to realize that a couple of his pet peeves were things I have done in my own work, but hey, he sees it all, after all. He did say something that hit me rather palpably: "If writers would worry more about the writing and less about publishing, it would be a whole different world."

I guess I'm worried about both the writing and the publishing. I can't help it. At least I no longer believe that if I just lounge on my deck chair with a martini in one hand, agents and editors come knocking to find my unrealized genius sitting tucked away on my hard drive. I also have neither deck chair nor martini mix. I guess I never really thought that, anyway, actually, but how many do?

Do you?

Writing is work. Don't let anyone convince you otherwise. Don't convince yourself otherwise. It's hard work. And if it's the best work that you've ever done, and if you would not rather be doing anything else (not for more than two days, say), then you'll stick it out and you'll make it because there are fewer of our exact ilk, believe it or not, than there seems to be.



At 7:56 PM, Blogger Maurie said...

J --
Are we twins having been seperated at birth? I read your stuff and I think, "wow, she's been in my HEAD"..it's really eerie. You should be very afraid.

Seriously, I am happy to hear that a "real" writer like yourself has days like you describe here. It almost makes those of us who are too scared, too afraid to actually TRY to get something published, feel like we're part of the club.

At 9:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Jordan,
I so relate to everything you are going through both with the two novels, the third in the works and freelancing.

You will get your books published. I just feel this about you. Hang in there. Writing is what we do whether we get published or not. But somehow it just doesn't not sound as fullfilling when the publishing is the big unknown variable.

I just discovered a good use for non-published stories toss them into the novel in process.

Julie Ann Shapiro


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