I’m a writer, and its occurred to me that my bloglessness has been an impediment to my ability to promote myself as such. I’ve absolutely no idea whatsoever the tone it will take or the beast it will become. At any rate, I’m holding my nose and jumping in the deep end!.
The struggle to be original amid so many talented people is an enormous challenge as a writer and it is always paramount in my thoughts. Whether I’m developing a character’s temperament or creating a town out of nothing but my imagination, I am acutely aware that if I expect publication and sales success I need to be unique enough to pique the curiosity of an editor. A difficult task, given the vast pool of talented people whose work lines the shelves at my local Chapters store. I’ve come to the uncomfortable realization that I suffer from a chronic disorder called ‘publicationitis’. The only relief from this condition is a book tour and an appearance on The New York Times Best Seller list. Until then, I’m relegated to writhe in the agony of rejection letters, aching hands, burning ambition and characters who won’t let me stop telling their stories.
It’s not very romantic, this vision of the literary inkslinger sitting hunched on a corner of the couch surrounded by empty dorito bags, bubble gum wrappers and a water bottle. It truly is that banal until the magic happens. At some point between the sighs and head scratching, the people who populate my imaginary towns and cities make their first appearances, rattling my laptop with the din of their chatter and the hum of their activity. THIS is why I keep at it. There is nothing like it. When it flows, it flows like a river to the sea.
Every story has at least one character that looks me straight in the eye and throws down the gauntlet, challenging me to try a new way of introducing them. Not long ago I was inspired to attempt something daring, at least for me. I wrote a short story called ‘Rat’. It’s a children’s story, completely dialogue driven, detailing the emotional experiences of two brothers as they come to terms with growing up and away from each other. I entered a short story contest. I didn’t win. I didn’t care. Because of ‘Rat’, I successfully wrestled that paper tiger called doubt and trounced it once and for all. I’ve written other things that have been rejected and it cheesed me off like you would’nt believe, I mean really brought out the gargantuan gorilla in full tilt tantrum mode. This was different. I knew it was good. No, I knew it was great. They didn’t. So what? So much of being judged in a contest is subjective anyway. To be completely candid, I salivated for the prize money, not the notoriety or prestige because to me it’s rather like a lottery. I didn’t win that lottery, but I did share that beautiful story with someone who read it and will remember those boys.
As an aside, I entered this same contest last year with a story that I felt was fun and jolly, but devoid of anything meaningful. It’s evolution began during a time of pain and uncertainty, as a gift of healing to my daughter, but it was written as a distraction for her. Nothing deep, just frivolity and silliness. Ironically, THIS story made it to the second round with a very positive critique, which just goes to show how ridiculous and unpredictable this business can be. I suppose the message I’m trying to convey, is keep on keepin’ on no matter how daunting it all appears.
I hope you trounce your paper tigers too and that you get much closer to your dreams of success, whether they be publication, posterity or both.
Right now I feel a character tugging at my ear, telling me to put a nice big poplar tree in her front yard beside the fence she fell off two years ago, when she chipped her tooth. Also, if I don’t mind too terribly, could I make sure to give her dimples and unruly hair…