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.
She had no state funeral, no songs were written about her by rock stars, she was never elected to office based on her persona, she had no ties to any radical group with strong connections to terrorism, she never married or had children, she wasn’t deified in life or death, she didn’t live to see her sixteenth birthday let alone her ninety fifth, she spent two years hiding behind a wall in a very small space unable to speak very loudly, starving and shitting in a bucket, eventually she died in Bergen-Belsen, a Nazi prison camp where they took human beings to be worked like slaves, starved, gassed and incinerated in ovens, many of them children. Her entire family were murdered this way with the exception of her father Otto. To get there she did nothing but be born a Jew. During her time she did something exceptional that has affected this world in a way no religions leader, political leader or celebrity ever has or ever will, she put pen to paper and wrote the the truth of her experience and displayed the blossoming flower of innocence and youthful optimism from her place in hell. No other book, not even the bible has been as widely read or translated into as many languages and as you read or watch the coverage of Mandela’s funeral, remember Anne Frank instead because she WAS the real thing and not a media created fabrication of a martyr for those oppressed. Better yet, read her diary and do the comparison yourself. This world is corrupt and it praises and elevates that which is also corrupt and it has been thus since the beginning.
There you stood
feet on shifting ground
gesticulating maneuvers perfected
in the art of manipulative entertainment
one fine distraction after another
ultimately stained by the turbulence of your conscience
it was counterfeit love to the jugular
three doors down from the last lie you told
and lust makes one final request
to slit honesty’s throat
once and for all
pretty tales and polarities not-with-standing
reality makes a corpse of your personality
for a funeral where grief is optional
drama, the dirge
This past Monday, April 1, I was invited to be a guest on San francisco’s Radia Valencia Scream for Peace program. DJ Aslan and I discussed Tuck, the nature of creativity, writers’ block and all manner of things connected to insanity of writing.
You can listen to it here: Getting unTucked
While you are at Radio Valencia, take a stroll around and enjoy the healthy and edgy art vibe that is the very nature of what they do there daily.
to Gabrielle Bryden’s blog, you will see that she is not only a very talented writer, wonderful mother and a witty social critic, but she also happens to be in possession of one of the biggest, kindest hearts on the planet. I’m not only blessed to call her a cohort in all things writerly, but she has made me a guest on her blog as well, which is beyond cool and flattering as hell. Go read this Aussie woman’s wonderful poetry, social commentary and excellent golden drops of wisdom and you will see why her readers love her so much. 🙂
There is a wonderful poetry/fiction/photography magazine on the internet called Referential. Poet and editor Jessie Carty has created a brilliant and unique publication, the hallmark of which is that each piece references from another piece until they are all linked or networked together. I love the concept of each one behaving as a building block for another, because this is truly how it is and has been throughout the history of the arts. We all inspire each other and this is often reflected in the spirit our work. I’ve been privileged to appear in this publication and as of this week, The editors at Referential, have nominated some talented artists for the best of the net. For some perplexing reason I cannot fathom, I’m one of them and I’m terribly honored. Therefore, be dilligent my dear scribes, in your support of the arts and click the Referential link to read the work of these nominees. Leave a comment to express your feelings about the work and if you are a poet, fiction writer or photographer, then my darlings, submit your little hearts out and then spread the good word about this original and substantial magazine, on your blog or in email. Happy Friday to you all. 🙂
is that it is in quite a scary state. A state of artistic paralysis defined by academic buddy systems and political correctness gone mad. Novels are supposed to be STORIES. Yes, that’s right lovely scribes, tales about people doing things. Not thinking about doing things and then describing how they feel about their indecision for three hundred pages. Nope, I’m talking good old fashioned interesting plots played out by characters who are colourful, verbal and interesting. I don’t know about you, but if I wanted to listen to someone bellyache, I don’t need to plunk down twenty five bucks to hear it. Hell no! I can call up at least six people I know and let them puke in my ear for an hour, safe in the knowledge I’ve saved some coinage. Literature has limped along the genre laden path and at the bend in the road it’s turned into one very very very very long sob story. A therapy session written by tedious hacks who have no concept of life in the real world. The pathetic truth is this: the academic puppets of big business publishing, have destroyed this art form by controlling content and the only thing more sacred to a writer than the words themselves: style. Their hubris is galling when they act as judges for certain literary contests, where they determine what is or is not acceptable and frequently it’s the verbose navel gazing that isn’t even slightly acquainted with such tools of the trade as grammar, sentence structure or quotation marks when a character is speaking! We are descending into a pit of illiteracy and no one seems to give a shit because all the little writers are placed in their appropriate genres, never to move lest we upset the pigeon hole brigade. Everyone is getting paid exorbitant amounts of money from large publishing giants by making a farce of the writing profession by confessing they don’t actually write their novels. Apparently, a sound marketing background is the newest requirement for being a novelist. It does assure their sales success, if not artistic integrity. Of course I can only be referring to the book of the month club philistine, James Patterson, who jots down an idea and passes it along to an in house hack to flesh out. In house writers are becoming more and more common. They write what their bosses tell them to, never deviating from the formula that sells. Most of the authors on the shelves are not qualified to write the ingredient list on a pack of toilet paper, let alone write a book. It’s a sorry state of affairs, is it not good scribes? I highly doubt that Steinbeck, Hemingway, Plath, Salinger, Mitchell, Twain, Richler, Leacock, Dickens, Bronte, Eliot, Shelley,Chekhov, Proust, Parker, Orwell, Dahl, Wyndham, Capote etc had to explain their platform and marketing strategy to their publishers to prove the worth of their work. Free speech is dying, one artist at a time and consumer ignorance and corporate greed are the murderers.