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.

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Reminuisance (for Sabby)

…Yeah, I was doing it again

exercising my diabolical rite (misspelling intentional good readers 😉  ) to think back…

way back

to before you bent over backward to receive your award

for being the most entertaining guest at my table

and I

being the hostess

couldn’t wait to hear your acceptance speech

you sure as hell could capture an audience with your gaze and sway

I was young and petulant but prudent

and you were bruised but still alive

wearing your vice on your sleeve still doesn’t seem like a good idea to me

but then you always approved when I kept my clean eyes on the door

just in case we felt hasty

for a taste of the street

Some people make a career out of…

doing nothing.  You may want to avoid my blog today if you fall into any of these categories:  Upper middle class brats with an axe to grind about something they have never experienced, a tree hugging granola eating loon who smokes too much weed, a sixties throwback who is still attempting to tighten the screws that were loosened by a lot of acid, professional students who hide from life, hemp wearing naturalists who don’t know how to survive without their cell phone and internet service etc…you know who you are so I’d vacate the premises at this point or feel the sting.

Protesters and their ilk

I grew up in Toronto.  It’s a great city, clean and safe for the most part and  I rode the subways, buses and streetcars alone from the age of twelve until I was 26, at which point I moved away to give my schizophrenic husband a calmer life.  I always went back though, for the buzz and hum of being absorbed by the energy of all those cultures living in one place.  Imagine my disgust when I watched video and read print media accounts of the violence in the place of my birth and youth.

Apparently the G 8/20 summit is the demonic culprit.  You know, all those legally elected leaders of countries getting together to discuss the economic and environmental nightmare  that is the 21st century.   It would seem there is a disgruntled segment of society that is fed up, had enough and won’t take it anymore.  They are demanding an end to poverty, injustice and violent regimes who impose their will on others through the use of force.  Oh yeah? I see a few pots calling kettles black in this situation.  How very interesting this is from another  perspective.  For all the rhetoric in dreadlocks and hemp shirts,   I don’t recall anyone picketing or burning police cars on behalf of people sleeping on the streets, down the block from where they work or attend a university many of us can’t afford in our dreams. Let me enhance your awareness,  they are there, every time you walk past their empty bellies with your Starbucks or Tim Horton’s latte.  I also don’t recall anyone being this irate about the incomprehensible number of child abusers and murderers who are permitted to walk free  on a regular basis, after serving a scandalously short stint in one of our fine penal institutions after destroying some lives.  Karla Holmolka ring a bell?  Not one protester.  Silence.  It is this same deafening silence  in the Gulf where private industry is destroying the  lives of innocent hard working people with the chemicals they’re using to clean up the oil that will keep gushing out for years.  In fact, this thing is more dangerous than anyone knows and not one single cop car is being incinerated down in Louisiana.  Nope, they are much too busy protesting in the only country with a healthy economy.  Why?  Because this world of instant celebrity and a middle class comfort level,  the like of which has not been seen EVER on this planet, has given birth to an entire generation of narcissists who are out of touch with the following:  reality, compassion, empathy, morals, ethics, mortality, need, hard work, honesty and love.  I have a simple message to impart to every one of them and it’s a time honoured simple set of suggestions.  Go out and get a job or  make a job and shut up until you have something important to say that doesn’t involve a Molotov cocktail. Do something worthwhile to aid humanity that contributes something of value, something lasting and meaningful.  If you want to change the world for those less fortunate, perhaps you ought to befriend someone you claim to understand.  Feed them, hug them, listen to them, teach them how to read, find a rehab facility for them, use the money you waste on picket signs and buy someone a coat or a bed for the night. Above all, acknowledge your hypocrisy and remove it from your soul.  Of course, this means  you will have to get past the lice and smell, but they can’t help it because life is like that when you don’t have a home.  However, do not, I repeat, DO NOT  ignore the guilt you will hopefully feel when you get in your nifty little smart car and go home to your flat screen tv, wii, xbox, and nice king size bed.  THAT feeling is what will change the world, one out of touch well heeled bored police cruiser burning narcissist at a time. In two words, grow up.

Want to see the industry of protesting first hand?  Check this out scribes.  It looks, well, very establishment to me. Where does the money come from?  I don’t think any raggedy ass group of poor people, no matter how justifiably disgruntled,  could put something this elaborate together from bumming spare change on the street corner.  I wonder if the contributions from donors will make this a tax exempt charity and if so, could that mean any income derived from this business is TAX FREE!  Imagine that.    😉 One last economic truth:  People who work in stores, gas stations, restaurants, factories etc, folks who only earn enough to rent a small place to live,  and who rarely own a car or possess a degree are those who will be footing the bill for the destruction left in the wake of these louts,  through the taxes deducted from an already meager pay check.   Perhaps someone should protest that.

G8/20 community protesters website

Cockroaches and White Bread

On a chair
three legs sturdy
one loose
sits a girl
six
eyes scanning the tenement kitchen
scratching bed bug bites
and watching the cockroaches
crawling like babies
across the last slice of white bread
she counts eleven
then imagines one hundred elevens
because ma says there are many times more than what you see
of anything
but she knows there is only one slice of bread
and no milk
ma deliberates over whether to chase away the roaches
and divide the bread equally to fill a small square space of hunger
or
toss it out the window to the rats and birds in the alley
After she takes a draw on her cigarette, she flings the bread into the bare window sky
the six year old girl watches the smoke curl around the counter where the bread used to be
she doesn’t deliberate as the remaining cockroaches scatter
she decides
she will put this in her scribbler
when her printing is as neat as the words in her Mr. Whiskers grade one reader
But she makes a mental note to leave out the fucks and goddamns that are now drifting flippantly from her mother’s newly painted course lips
because Mr. Whiskers doesn’t swear

It’s like this…

I’m lost in a time warp of my own making and I’m going to be in 1971 for a bit longer.  I’ve been nine again and it’s been illuminating, shocking, soulful, morbidly fascinating and one wild ass ride through one summer of my life.  Where is all this happening?  Wilson Park of course.   😉  Yeah, I’m back in that project with everybody else and we are reliving some nasty things so I can shape it with some brazen cool and tell it like it was.  When I’m done, it won’t just be a novel my dear scribes, it’s gonna be a shameless epic.   So if I’m not here posting my one, two and three minute poems WITHOUT revision (Ms. Jessie)  😉   I’ll be back there, so when I’m finished I can take you there.

Just to get you into my frame of mind and feeling, here is one song that opens the gates for me every damn time I sit down to write the glorious trashy prose that was Wilson Park.  Staples Singers, take them there will ya…

Seventies Recall

Dangling legs over the Bloor Viaduct

Where all the hurters jump

We just sit, looking down, feeling the almost dead thrill

Of the drop

Cars whipping their frosty breeze behind

Zooms approach and fade

Honking horn threats

Of cops on your heels

They lose the desire when they get to the other side

Ridiculing drivers with our middle fingers

Taking rebellion as high as it could go

Laughing when the looked up

Pissing ourselves when they flipped us back

Upping the ante

Behaving badly

Shit disturbers in jean jackets and Adidas

All day I dream about…

Snow ball pummeling the TTC

Sneaking on the bus as the back

Empty pocket riders back to the burbs

And Kelly’s house

Hiding the bag of homegrown

So Kelly’s mum won’t find

Watching her from the hall

Freak out

Where the fucks my stuff!

Door dashing out the back

Laughing our guts out

Just making it up the street in time

To see her brother announce himself

Led dead zed head

Chevy Nova God in black

Our double aspiration on the verge of punk

Hopping in it’s warm and loud

Black dog pounding Page

Coursing through your body

Struttin’ back and forth

From your sex to the top of  your head

Feeling outside it all

And in common

Swimming in the power spike emotion

Eventual ejection at the top of Yonge Street

Brother and  Page bark their  way further down strip

He’s got a job

A real goer

Head shop clerk pot head

Trailing exhaust in January cold

We skate on ice me and Kelly

Through our anguished youth

To the corner with the warm grate

And the cold bad kids we like

And are

Sometimes…