My Memoir, agents and publishing.

People who come from my background are supposed to die toothless in some cockroach infested dive with a bottle  or needle in one hand and a cigarette in the other. People who come from my background are not supposed to be talented writers with an intellect.

I have written a memoir. It is tragic, sad, funny, depressing, uplifting and it is all true. Two famous people appear in this book: Anne Murray and a former Canadian pop star who is currently a sitting MP in the House of Commons.  Despite the quality of my writing and its originality, the wall I face between myself and the publishers who should be handling the marketing of this story, is too thick with literary agent gate keepers. I have sent dozens and dozens of query letters over the past seven months and thus far only a handful have replied. It was clear from the content of the responses that only one agent actually read my query and two were form rejections. I am 52 now with two benign brain tumors and a lumpy breast that will probably be more than displaysia in the future.  I have lived through some incredibly horrible events: the poverty and abuse of my childhood, my first husband’s battle with Schizophrenia and ultimate suicide at 38, rape and abuse, the abduction of my child, homelessness, domestic violence shelters and illegally being dragged through court by an American monster who abducted and withheld my baby and  who was helped by the very system in Canada that was supposed to help us seek justice, not persecute us. Throughout I have worked for everything I have. I have never had drug problems, I don’t drink  or smoke and I’m not mentally ill. I have done more than just survive, I have overcome everything, no matter how brutal or overwhelming, but this one has me stymied. I am completely dismayed at the challenge I face to have this book published.

My writing is all over the internet and in print. I have done interviews, book reviews of some repute,  essays, poetry, fiction and  I have a global political, arts and lit magazine online that has a very healthy readership. I have what agents and publishers require: a finished book that is highly marketable, a platform online and four more books ready to go. However, for some mysterious reason I can’t quite fathom, books written by fictional dogs discussing the meaning of life is worthy of a spot in Chapters and the seal of approval of an editor at one of the big six publishing houses.

Could it be that people like myself are still considered a bit too real and therefore distasteful?  If that is so, then how can any writer overcome the incestuous class system that infests the Canadian publishing industry? I think my experience proves that you can’t, no matter how talented or good your work, they won’t let you in.

Advertisements

Leaner

 

When you put your books on a shelf, you usually have to lean a few against the rest to keep them from toppling over.  The people who write those books are like that too.  If we don’t lean, talk, share, criticize, argue, laugh, agonize and encourage, I believe we writers can also topple over.  This life of writing is solitary, that is a true fact, but instinctively, in a way unique and  peculiar to writers, we surface long enough to seek out others of our species. I think we do it as a survival mechanism against self doubt  and to remind ourselves why we began to write in the first place.  Absolutely no one, but another writer would understand statements like the following

1) I’m never writing again for the rest of my life!

2)I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t write!

3) What do those ‘other’ people do with themselves, ya know, those who don’t write?

I hear all the writers out there chuckling.  You have to admit, we are a temperamental lot and damn hard to understand, but when the going is rough or we accomplish something, we are there for each other.  This week I have been the very humbled and blessed recipient of that support and I just wanted to post and say thank you for your kind words, shameless peddling of my children’s novel and just all around goodness.  I have felt the zen vibes you guys and I love them.  Literary hugs  to everybody.  

Contemplative About The Words

For  some time  I’ve been thinking deeply about why I’m really writing.  This ridiculous habit of putting words to paper started as soon as I could grip a pencil.   If I were to stop telling the stories that walk the streets of my soul,  it would be tantamount to taking my five senses away.  Only another artist will understand that this statement isn’t melodramatic; in fact it’s probably not dramatic enough to describe the effect of removing the one gift that will propell you toward fulfilling your life purpose.  Life purpose, hmm… what a lovely segue into the reason for this post.  

Some people write to be famous, rich, or to prove something to themselves or someone else.   Money, I’d like some more, who wouldn’t.  Fame, uh, NO.  Not my bag at all.  As for proving something, I’ve never had anything to prove and I’m a bit of a square peg in a round hole type of gal anyway.   This leaves only one reason left to write.   To make a difference in this world so full of pain that it casts a shadow on even the biggest joys.  That’s  truly why I write.   Nothing has a greater impact than words.  This is why governments fear them and dictators control them.  Words are power and in the hands of the oppressed they are keys to all the locks.  

 For far too many years I toodled around with story after story, poem after poem, experimenting with different techniques and basically pissing it away. Originally I wanted to attend Ryerson and leave with my piece of paper, travel the world supporting myself doing freelance gigs.  I had it all planned and let me tell ya, it  had all the elements of a Hollywood epic.  Of course I was in love with Ernest hemingway at the time (okayI’m still in love with Ernest Hemingway) and his life and work affected me deeply.  What can I tell ya, I was young and arty.  Apparently my karma had other plans and I walked down another road.  Time went by and I continued to live my life by my instincts rather than my logic.  Not the way to live if you’re into calm serenity. There is a great line in the song  ‘Beautiful Day’  by U2:   “You’ve been all over and it’s been all over you” that pretty much sums up my 46 years here.  I could look back and say it all started waaaay back when my ancestors climbed into a boat and floated across the pond from Europe and never stopped moving.  In fact, I believe there is something in that because every member of my family has a damn difficult time staying put for long.  Some people call it wanderlust or just plain boredom, whatever it is, it’s been my destiny to amble  all over the damn place collecting people, feelings, experiences and yes, stories the way regular people collect postcards.  I can recall the faces of every human being who has ever crossed my path and although a few were not pleasant, they all gave me their stories and with a heart full of them I need to do what they wanted me to,  send them back into the world to prove they were here and that their lives mattered.  Between you and me and the gate post, some are in this book and in the other two to follow.   

Here’s the long term plan.  I write  these books, plant my feet firmly in print on demand, do some networking ( when you move a lot in your life you become an expert) and take my books to children, particularly poor children who can’t read and live in huts with dirt floors and empty bellies.  In many ways those children and I have lived through the same wretchedness and they and their liberty are my purpose.   One day, before I’m very much older, I’ll be placing  a book in some little hands in Darfur, Calcutta, Zambia and anywhere else they’ll have me.   It’s not the original dream/plan of freelance reporting and globetrotting,  but by taking a detour, I’ll get there in the end and my words will still be the reason.   

If you want to do something exceptionally wonderful, stupifyingly kind and  benevolently trendy, click the logo under the blog roll and send a few bucks if you’ve got it to spare.  Someone will love you completely for it, I promise.  🙂  A good friend of mine who worked for many years tirelessy for UNICEF was the inspiration for the main character’s rather quirky traits and if you really want to continue on with the stupifyingly kind stuff, go here:  www.unicef.org

  One more thing, be good to yourself.  The world needs you.  🙂