Monday, July 03, 2006

Blogging myself into a corner

The way out seems fairly simple.
You'd done it before.
Stuck in blogland while real writers around you are digging huge furrows in real work printed in real publications, some worldwide.
Well, how did you do it last time?
Let's see.
Every aristocrat (and face it, we writers are all little elitists) has to face danger, some life-threatenimg situation, be it destroying your support system just to see what will happen or to compete on the backs of large dangerous animals to win some dumb prize, the pursuit of which may leave you maimed and maybe even crippled. Or stupid Fear Factor, or my favourites, American Idol and Canadian Idol.
For all of our scientific advances, it's still Swords and Sorcery, the quest, the Golden Grail.
You have failed because you chose to blog and not to flog.
A stupid cartoon comes to mind. It is a slightly ruffled chicken, whose talk balloon asks, "Do people get laid?"
And the answer comes, "No, people are chicken."
So I for one, need to get "laid."
How do you go about getting laid?
Well, like any incestuous cad, I used to be something of a success at writing and hardly needed to announce in my column that the scribbler was riddled with mental blocks, family anxieties, creeping impotence and bankruptcy--and really needed to get laid. There would be volunteers. That's what it was like to have artistic power, back in the days when you were young and a superstar.
It was also being a rat with women.
"You expect people to be nice to you when you are not nice to them at all."
I used to walk the halls of academe to see how the upwardly mobile young turks would handle women teachers.
"Kiss my ass."
"But I already have."

F*cking asshole.
And I along with him, probably. Egomaniac teacher. Manipulating students. Drug habit. &%#ing prick.

Ah, but one day it all comes back on you. Some smart redhead who finally gets some scissors and does a real Samson number on you. "I have discovered the secret of your strength."

Well. Now you have to pay for all those superioritities. You have been rejected once again by a publication that you not only respect, but one that could restore your superstar status.
Nice work if you can get it.
It can be gotten through journalism, high -end journalism, the slick magazines. Also theatre, though you had to have known something about theatre from an early age.

But the distance between two points is not a straight line.

Writing is a little like trying to win a woman who doesn't want you, the "bitch" who will screw for anybody else but you, that's why you call it, her, a bitch. Norman Mailer: The novel is The Great Bitch.

So what do you do when you are really out of the loop, no longer in? And not making any headway at all with The Great Bitch?

For god's sake,don't go to the stories of sports heroes, the low-batting average slugger, who through sheer determination and character, finally drives one out of the park.
Doesn't happen that way. My old hero Dave Carter
used to drive one out of the park fairly routinely. And tomorrow, he would do it again. And again Wednesday.

So it's not the shy hero, Archibald Arbuthnott, the stuttering guy with the incongruous last name, who finally gets the gumption up to play Cricket and beat everybody-- oh, lord, no! You can have all the determination in the world, all the literature and fail miserably, because the hero's life is not the way they tell you it is. There is the way people actually work, and then, with Einstein, there is "literarute", or bullshit.

Still, you are in a gumption trap, a box. A writer who is not publishing, not really publising.

The best way is to plan for failure, to have a system, and if one thing doesn't work, you go to plan for Plan B, or C, or D, and almost infinitum. Even a loser sometimes wins.

The problem right now is that you have chosen "creativity" over using your brains. You have been thinking outside the box so long that it has become a Pandora's box and you can't get the genie back in.

You had a possible four-thosand dollar grant from a major university and you fucked up the forms.

PhD's don't fuck up. You did.

So you compensate by "creative expression."

You thinking has to become practical.

The goal is slick magazine serialization of your novel, leading to hardcover publication an old goal; things aren't done that way any more, but it is nevertheless the goal.

So how are you going to do it?

Get the hell out of blogging for a while.

Bring it all home.
On yellow pads.
Yellow pads.
Or on that old Remington electric,where you can produce real copy and not the filigree of electronic stuff like this.

Yellow pads.

Then you'll start writin', and not "typin'", as Truman Capote might have said.

And out of five drafts, you may be able to rescue one.

And that might be enough.

Dollar-thirty-five for the stamp.

And if rejected, turn the whole thing into a TV scpript or a play, better the play.

Your local theatre group is starving for material. The market is right in front of you.

You were just too busy blogging to notice.


...........And after all that piss and vinegar, Happy Fourth of July weekend to our American friends.
What I've set down above may give the impression of a guy being bummed out, but I have never been bummed out by an American, one-on-one.
It was Americans who offered me a scholarship for my first book.
Hope you're out there, Tom Mayer and may your "Bubblegum and Kipling" keep ballooning.

14 comments:

Erik Ivan James said...

So. You are inclined to become a Scribbler again? Good.

ivan said...

Thanks, Erik.

Seems that blogging is so addictive and flogging so much more difficult.

I like to think writers are versatile people, capable of handling the most abstract generalities, while,as the need arises, applyling the pickiness of a PhD to specific problems.

Macro and micro, I suppose.

Maybe that's why I'm attracted to my friend, Aaron Braaten, who, has had a successful blog on economics, though now he's into everything these days including literature-- or at least some of my literature that he has linked to his post.

Successful? Last time I checked, Aaron's blog was worth $l07,000.

I checked mine and drew a doughnut.

Maybe that's why the anxiety.

But yeah, Erik you're right. It starts with the scribbling.
"Scribble, scribble, scribble, eh Jones?"

Shesawriter said...

Happy 4th, Ivan! Hope you had a great day. :-)

ivan said...

Thanks, Tanya.
Canada's birthday was July 1, I celebrated, and by July 4, there was still lots to celebrate about.
I got off the computer for a while, made the rounds to some newspaper editors while still in a high mood, was surprised to find people still knew me out there and got one green light on a project.
Things are looking up.
Followed some of the 4th celebrations on American TV and really enjoyed taking in the great songs by the Wailing Jennys along with some teriffic Bluegrass. And R&B.
Man,you guys know how to throw a party. And you've got this incredible legacy of art and music.
I'm sure you had a good 4th too.
Damn lucky day for me.

Sela Carsen said...

Glad it's been a good week for you, Ivan! We moved furniture all day yesterday -- not much of a party although we did stop to watch the Discovery launch.

I'm so happy for your new project -- and it's good to be remembered by old friends.

ivan said...

Yeah, isn't it good to be remembered by old friends?

You have a new logo.

Been kinda lonesome out here in the country.

Country Joe and the Fish?

Nobody knows the turbot I've seen, but the new logo is kinda nice.

Major moves are usually indicated by a flipover of icons.

You are really moving to the Deep South after all?

Loved the hospitality when I was there.

H.E.Eigler said...

You've been rejected? Oh the huge manatees! Rejection is life as a writer. Be thankful for what you have accomplished thus far because sometimes education and connections and past triumphs don't mean shit. Sometimes when looking forward, you just have to keep writing and hope it resonates with someone. And you're right - writers are versatile people and so this, you will overcome.

ivan said...

Thanks so much, Heddy!

Kinda hobbled the old ego like a hare in a trap.
It's my women writers so far that have kept my confidence up.

Hm. I just realized my editor is a woman.

There's gotta be a way back in!

But then you gotta write good.

Oh well, maybe I'll haunt a church, or synagogue--or wherever my multicultural relatives go.

Hm. My printer at Speed-E-copy is a part time Imam.

"So what do I do, Hussein?"
"You go to your church."

Amen.

R.J. Baker said...

Blogging seems mental masturbation of the highest order...but you've gotta love it. A person in my critique group just got a book deal and a sale of a short to Woman's World mag. Persistence, persistence...I wish I had it.

Drunken ramblings, chasin' women, cigars, and late nights...still chasin' the Great American Novel...

RJB

ivan said...

Jesus, I am so out of the loop.
I still thought Redbook was still publishing fiction.
I mean, as they used to say in the Fifties, that's not being a square, that's being a *&#ing frame!
So Woman's World is publishing short stories! I thought the market for short stories had completely dried up.

Don't you worry, R. J.
You sound like you may be an off-trail guy (my kind of guy actually), but what I've seen of your writing when you carefully self edit--I think you're right on trail.
Hell, Kerouac was off-trail and we saw what he could produce.

Myself, I'm kind of tempted to do a William Burroughs and cut up my manuscript pages, printing the mess that's left.
But then my first drafts are like that, and I might get left with a mess of gigog.

So I guess for me, it's still Kiplings Five Stalwart men--Who? What?When? Where? Why?
But I've come across one Ginger Hill who answers all these questions in a story, but keeps it symbolic and resonant, that is to say, very together.

As I've said elsewhere, do I have to strap on a vagina to write as well as some of the women?

...Would certainly give me a new sensibility.

Sela Carsen said...

Not sure where or when we're moving yet, Ivan. Must find hubster a job first. Second career, y'know. Spent 21 yrs in the USAF and now it's on to a new challenge. I hope to stay in the South, but who knows. I'd say that I'm flexible, but who knows where that would lead!

I've subbed a couple of stories to Woman's World and gotten two very nice rejections from them -- one even went to the top ed before coming back to me. Hey, they pay $1000 for 1100 words!! But you gotta know the market. They're very, very picky.

ivan said...

I guess there was some reason I couldn't buy my own beer in Dixie.
Told everybody I'd spent five years in the Royal Canadian Air force. I guess we had sort of been on the same side and American Legion guys kept buying me drinks.

I was a humble Pinetree Line radar operator, or, as the French used to term us, "Oiseau-watchers."
I did feel like a fish out of water
(speaking of fish?) for a long, long time until Ryerson University accepted me for Journalism.
...There is such camaraderie, such a sense of being IN in the Service that you get something like culture shock once you get out.
Happily, I was soon in another large institution and the sense of alienation vanished.

Woman's World, huh?
Maybe there's a place for my dozens of short stories yet, though I think I am stronger on the essay and the newspaper column.
I don't have the novel mania now, since I have completed a couple of them and the monkey is off my back.
But the book publishers! They don't reject you straight off, they keep the book forever and forever, leaving you little notes, "We have just been taken over by a larger house. Be patient, be patient."
But I guess one needs be a realist.
They make a novelist like they make a community college teacher.
"Can he get along with business people? Is he "normal"--does he have any obvious kinks?
"What kind of a role model would he/she make? Is he going to make a fool out of Canada when he gets to New York and heads straight for the coke dish?

Being a published novelist is a big deal. It makes you just as important as the local MD. Maybe more important You have clout and people listen to what you say.
Someday somebody will write a book on how they make novelists, the job description.

Hey, I'm not complaining.
As in many of my do-it yourself projects, I had sneaked through the back door of novel publishing, shot up to prof after that, and drank so much during the enterprise
that soon the Enterprise was torpedoed.
"That's the trouble with you noveaux-riches, my friend Fred the Shrink used to say.

Too much too soon.

"Major Tom to Ground Control..."

Elizabeth said...

J.A. Konrath spent 12 years trying to get published. At one point he was so poor that he couldn't afford to heat his apartment. He realized he hit bottom when he couldn't take a shower because his shampoo had frozen. Joe received 450 rejection letters before he finally got published.

His story is one of the reasons I decided I could become a writer. Sick, huh.

The other? Blogging. If I hadn't posted my story about my grandfather, and received so many wonderful comments from people like you, I never would have made the leap back into writing my book.

Thanks for stopping by!

ivan said...

Elizabeth,
Thanks to you as well for stopping by.
Yeah, J.A. Konrath. I especially like his comments on the need to cut, cut, cut even if it seems you're carving up your own young.
These things you learn, of course, in a high-end journalism program.
I probably had too much luck at college, the little magazines there. I published six poems and some long fiction.
Probably gave me an overbloated sense of my own worth too early.

The real world was something else.

Inspiring how you went back to writing to the point of actually having a novella accepted.-- Just a couple of weeks till it comes out if I can go by the publisher's promo.
Yeah, I've been thrugh the bare
steam pipes and peeling wallpaper thing too, though there was always a weeekly newspaper that would take some of my short stories disguised as columns...Maybe that was what spoiled me.
As H. E. Eigler points out above, you can have all the education and all the experience and still be slapped in the face.
My recent slap was to have the edior say, "I don't usually send out rejection letters. You want a rejection letter? Here it is:
'I will not be buying your piece, titled..........'"

Even Gerard Jones, the most rejected author in the world, wrote "Hey man, that's really too bad about the rejection."
I though he would have laughed it off, his own bad luck for thirty years and all that.
But Mr. Konrath's twelve years in the wilderness before getting published--that is somehow so inspiring.
As your note is inspiring.
Thanks.