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.
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?
"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.
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.