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.
A poem on video tearing apart the rampant illiteracy that has infected the speech of an entire generation. I was tip toeing around literary agent Janet Reid’s blog (I’m going to send that lovely gal a query letter in the not too distant future) and she shared the link for this brilliant spark of an idea. Jeepers, they said poetry was dead! Guess what? IT’S NOT! Just click the link below, watch, listen, laugh and enjoy.
Typography By Ronnie Bruce
Okay, I’m going to get down to the crux of the issue, some days a person should stay in bed. Today, I should have buried my head under the blankets and written it off the page of my life. It all began last evening actually. I decided to email some queries with a synopsis. There I sat, nice and relaxed, mug of java in hand feeling content and rather accomplished. I was slap happy with my query letter and I was beginning to feel deep love for my synopsis. I sent out six email queries and with a joyous curve to my lips, I hit send. Ah, such satisfaction! Now I would wait in jittery anticipation for the reaction to my story offering. Off to bed I toddled ( yes I toddle occasionally, as well as bip, amble and my personal favourite, mosey) satisfied with my effort and glowing from the dreamy prospect that perhaps my query could lead to my dream come true. You all know that hopeful sensation deep in your heart and the accompanying fantasy of book signings, interviews and all other egomaniacal theatrics you can mentally conjure. As my head hit the pillow and the nether world of dreams enveloped me, I had no idea that calamity would replace the new beaming optimism.
Up I jumped ( okay, I didn’t jump, but I did a very jazzy slide) out of bed. With my java in hand I signed into ye olde email account, bursting with anticipation. YES! an agent replied. I couldn’t believe it, so soon! They must have liked the story! I opened the email to find these lovely words of greeting: THIS EMAIL WAS BLANK. Frantically I coasted over to my ‘sent’ folder and after checking all six, I discovered much to my horror that yes indeed, there was nothing in the body of any of the emails. OH DEAR GOD! WHY ME? After slapping myself senseless for a few minutes I recovered from the absolute shame of it all and decided to retry. I discovered that Microsoft Word is a menace and I corrected the problem. In a frenzy (I had to hurry out the door to my day job) I sent all six once again. Just as I was preparing to close the laptop I had this nagging feeling to recheck them, just to be sure, and well…ah… to feed my obsessive compulsive need. Okay, now this is where it takes a terrible turn. Five were perfectly sent. Oh yes FIVE were wonderful. ONE was not. Of course the ONE which wasn’t perfect, was sent to the agent I’ve been hankering after, no salivating for. Want to know the imperfection? Not only did I address this person by the wrong name, but by the wrong gender! I also had no damn time to send another email to try and rectify the error. About an hour ago I sent an email, hoping this person will ignore my greeting deficit, but I somehow think the chances of that are about as remote as world peace and winning the lottery. Ah…ain’t the writing life grand?