Friday, September 07, 2007

Gonna pack all my things in a grip. Take me a long ocean trip.

I've got to get a grip.

Just looking over old emails to publishing houses, colleges, brown-nosing letters to other writers.

Small assuagements from editors who rejected me. The door, still open though, just a crack: "Next time, follow our submission guidelines."

I am a duffer at forms.
I am a duffer at bridge unless I have at least eight coffees.

Give it to us. We'll screw it up!

Just looking over an old letter from the University of Alberta. "Our deadline was April. It is now May.

And: "I did not get your attachment in any event. Try again in October."

Great time for the computer to wonk out. The attachment was my novel.

One of these days I'm going to have to learn word.

(My novels submitted as attachments, from email originals).

Crap. A twenty-thousand dollar writer's grant and I blew the forms. Missed the deadline.

One has to give the impression of an organized person.

Goodbye impression.

The guy's a fruitcake.

There was a time when I would submit stories on the back of manilla envelopes and they would be accepted.
"Don't worry about the longhand,"--the kindly editor. You could almost see him. The old fashioned shade-visor, the high-intensity lamp, the puffy eyes.

Those days are gone. "We write to a specific market now.
"And you've got to get over your technology lag."

(I think I saw the fuzzy-eared sub-editor toying with his blackberry and (I swear) snorting under his breath: "General interest writer. Hmph. Bye-bye Ivan."

You do not know quite how a good story comes.
It may be an impression, and itch an idea. It may have come from the last book your read.

And suddenly, inexplicably, the whole thing comes out, all in a large dollop as you see somebody else and not you writing it down. And in longhand.

The muses had been kind.

You look it over in the morning.


Oh you can get it out through discipline all right.
But it'll come out "safe"; no hook.

The difference between the professional writer and the gung-ho Reader's Digest copycat is the hook.

You have to hook your readers. Immediately, right from the git-go.

If your opener is dull, inelegant, the reader assumes that the rest of the piece will be inchoate too and so the eyes glaze. "This guy writes like I f*ck. Everything goes in but the skill."

I know what the problem is and I know I am coasting.

How easy it is to blog.

How hard it is to write somethin'

Ever try writing?

It's impossible.

"All you have to do is craft one sentence," says Hemingway.

Easy for him, whose words in the early days came so fast and clean.

They found a dead leopard at the top of Mount Killimanjaro.

I think I found poor Santa Claus mummified and smoked in my fireplace flue.

(Neither story is easily explained) :)

Santa Claus caught in his flue.

Ivan smoked.

On my last visit to my guru in Haiti, I heard Alan Baskin say, "When you give up. That's when you win."

Well, it worked for Alan when he lost his business and went into something completely different, like the setting up of dive resorts in strange and exotic places--they all worked out!

Alan, I have given up.



Inside our hands, outside our hearts said...

Good Morning you,

Giving up dear Ivan has its plus side. It makes the mind clear out old cobwebs, because you think you will not revisit them. But then the dust settles and they find their way back to you.

I compare it to the saying, "When you stop looking for love, it will find you". Perhaps if you stop trying so hard or being so hard on yourself, it will all fall into place.

Oh Ivan, I am not sure, but I know that I and everyone else here loves what they read. We cannot all be wrong.

Softest love, Tara said...

Not sure if I should commenthere. I have had a sunriser, i.e., "watching the sun come up on Santa Monica Bouleveard, Budweiser buzz" and all.

I am drunk. Ukrainian mother says, "Like skunk.".


Inside our hands, outside our hearts said...

Comment, drunk or not. Sometimes the most profound words are uttered by someone that is drunk.

JR's Thumbprints said...

Screw the hook, don't get all hung up on it; I'm submitting to The First Line Literary Journal, that way if I get rejected, it ain't my fault.

EA Monroe said...

Ivan, hang in there. I bet today Hemingway couldn't get published either -- just like Chekov. ~Liz said...


Well, good luck with it.

I did find an example of a hook by somebody in First Line Literary Journal.

He (she?) went,

"After nine years of marriage, Mary knew that the holidays were not a good time to ask her husband for a favor."

No, no, no no.

I think I would have gone,

Nine years of marriage to the stingy Jack reminded Sarah not to ask an indulgence--especially just before the holidays.

..Gotta be the prof in me.

Kipling's five tight, stalwart men, Who What When Where Why (and how come).

Can't write loosey-goosey, especially in your first paragraph.
Can't be vague.

(It is possible that after ten+ years of teaching that I had become a tight-ass martinet (like my "Jack", but I don't think so).

So yeah, by all means go First Line, but know for sure they are no better than you are.

(end outburst).

Ivan said...

Thanks, Liz.

When Hemingway was at the Toronto Star, editor Harry Hindmarsh would insist Ernest would call him "sir" and said Heminway's work was unsatisfactory. "Go to the park and interview a tree."
Ernest would take a streetcar and go to High Park...He was not a happy camper in Toronto.

Chekhov had better luck, but when he finally came out with his magnum opus, The Sea Gull, all the Russian critics hummed, in unison, "This really sucks." The play was stopped and poor Anton nearly had a nervous breakdown. Stoped writing.
A hundred years later, The Sea Gull remains a masterpiece for all the world.
But Chekhov remained at all times a doctor, an MD, besides a social do-gooder of the Al Gore variety.

Me? I just drink.

(and admire your writing, as you know).


Inside our hands, outside our hearts said...


Are you hanging about? said...


I don't know how long I'll be around. I have a hangover that's screaming to god, my accountant is on my back and I am perched on my British WC throne, about to pull the loo chain again.
But better things are happening.
Family anxieties now lessened.

The way life is going today, I think I'll go out on Main Street, turn a wheelbarrow upside down, trundle down the road and troll for homos.
They all have jobs, good ones.

Seriously, I have to do a bank run this afternoon. Won't be around for a few hours.


Ivan said...


I need to read more carefully when I examine "First Line".

Seems you can't at all tinker with the opening they have given you, viz,

"After nine years of marriage, Mary knew that the holidays were not a good time to ask her husband for a favor."

Apparently, this opener is set in stone and you can't tinker with it...I guess you then add your story to the opening para.

Which is too damn bad, because it is a very awkward and amateurish opener.

Ah well. I guess you can't get cute with them. Follow instructions, I suppose.


the walking man said...

"Fuck it and fuck you. Don't like what I wrote then lets go to the washroom. I'll help you use it for toilet paper, while you piss on your Prada shoes bitch." The editor, a man in his twenties, had a stunned look on his face...

Violence is always a good hook, short direct and to the point. and if you are in an editors office then it's not a hook it's an offer.

I'm with you quit, fuck it. Put it on a blog , your niche, let them who want to enjoy it find it. And from there FTW especially the publishing world.

Just like every other industry they take your sweat make the lions share and leave you the vultures picking.

That's the ticket JR, go big to bag the elephant, no need to chase after squirrels, more eating to an elephant anyway.

Hey and Ivan if you wouldn't stay up so late trying to pick up young beautiful women from your blog, us fat guys in orange speedos might have a better shot at serious interchange of intellectual conversation...hip shake...hip shake...hip shake.

ha ha ha ha ha

Peace Ivan all you really need is the loss of fear and worry, you're mind hasn't gone anywhere but bigger.


TWM said...

Good stuff, Mark.
Really good stuff.

I was going to say elsewhere that parts of what you write are really a play of intelligence, and it is unteachable to other writers. You got it or you ain't got it.

Heh. "us fat guys in orange speedos" and me trying to pick up young chicks.
Says Andre Berzun (I think),
"more people f*ck than philosophize."
Any damn fool can get f*ucked.

But yeah, I've been spending way too much time on the keyboard trying to attract beautiful women (not to mention a couple of lonely, frightened homos. LOL)

Keep the faith. Uphold the right!


Inside our hands, outside our hearts said...

Off to the bank he goes.... Chin up love... things with get better.

I for one am getting ready to make dinner. I have the house to myself and no one to share it with ::sob:: Ahh well, such is life.

Anyone interested in dinner?We are having roast, red baby potatoes, carrots, and a salad... not to mention a nice Bordeaux to go along with it. Someone has to cook, right?


Inside our hands, outside our hearts said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
the walking man said...

Tara, what is the meat course, you forgot to mention that on the menu. Man is a carnivore...or wants to be. How about 2, 22 oz T bones grilled? That'd go well with your wine which i would let you have all of, got any bourbon or shine from Franklin County VA, the moonshine capital of America (at least that's what the T shirts say.)



Then do your damn homework girlie! get ready for school on Monday

Donnetta Lee said...

No, no, no, Mr. Ivan. Never give up. As Mark advises, go to the blog if you must. But even that means you are not really giving up. You write. As Ms. Tara says, things fall into place. You write. As Ms. Lizzy says, hang in there. You write. As you are driven by the compulsion to do so--you write. People read. You write. I'm right. Mmm. Sambuca.

Inside our hands, outside our hearts said...

No Bourbon, but I do have a little left of Jager. Will that do?

As for the meat, I am serving a combination roast of pork and beef. Yum!

You coming?

Josie said...

Ivan, it's very simple.

You need a secretary. Someone to organize your life and keep you technologically up-to-date. You do the writing, get your secretary to do all the other stuff. You shouldn't be expected to do all the other stuff anyway. You're the writer.

Now, everyone, we have to find Ivan a secretary.

Double-0-Seven had Miss Moneypenny. We have to find someone for Ivan.

EA Monroe said...

Oh, Josie, a secretary! That's a great plan! As long as she doesn't have an Italian boyfriend! said...

Oh Liz,

I had meant to send a weak transpoder signal to show I was still alive and not crashed.
Italian boyfriend. That got me!
Yep, it happened once.
I had to whap-out more uh, whaps that year.
They own everything here in York Region, Ontario. But a woman mayoralty candidate beat Da Big Don. By 67 votes...but she beat him.
So far, so good.
Flying very low tonight.
Altitude is everything, my flying instructorused to tell me.
He also said, "I don't like your altitude, airman!"
Got a bad altitude tonight.

Snoopy has strafe marks on his dog house. "Curse you, Red Baron!"

Inside our hands, outside our hearts said...

Tap.. tap... Tap... anyone home? said...

Transponder signal only.

Lost in north woods.

Inside our hands, outside our hearts said...

Find your way home? I am in a melancholy mood and need a lap in which to rest in. said...

Not tactile.

Interdimensional travel, with Wilie Nelson and Merle Haggard on my portable TV in north woods. PBS, "Last of the Breed" Merle Haggard, Ray Price. Willie Nelson is God.


Inside our hands, outside our hearts said...

Soft love Ivan

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