Thursday, September 11, 2008

Afta suppa muddafukka


Like many another vain, empty, and bullying body of our time, I have been running for President these last ten years in the privacy of my mind, and it occurs to me that I am less close now than when I began. Defeat has left my nature divided, my sense of timing is eccentric, and I contain within myself the bitter exhaustions of an old man, and the cocky arguments of a bright boy. So I am everything by my proper age of thirty-six, and anger has brought me to the edge of the brutal.


Well, I'm nearly twice thirty six and I should like to say, less elegantly than Mr. Mailer, that I am pissed. Don't know why I should be though. Robertson Davies, the late world class Canadian novelist, rumor goes, was rejected by the same house for "belle-lettrism." Go figure.Either my lettres are too belle or not belle enough. One good thing I can say for Margaret Atwood, is that she can sure write a bell lettre. I have seen her tribute to John Updike. The chick can write when she wants to get it on.


Maybe I am just too wordy.
Or maybe I scared the living crap out of them.

*Ah, but lookee here...It does seem to get darkest before the light.

Here is old Norman Mailer, for years in the stratosphere with his Naked and the Dead and suddenly rejected on another novel, The Deer Park. Rejected all over New York. Happens to everybody, even to the most important writer in America.
He had so start all over again.


Part of his account in the debacle. The long and weary road though seven rejections.

The eighth house was G. P. Putnam's. I didn't want to giive it to them. I was planning to go next to Viking, but Walter Minton kept saying, "Give us three days. We'll give you a decision in three days." So we sent it to Putnam, and in threee days the took it without conditions, and without a request for a single change. I had a victory, I had made my point, but in fact I was not very happy. I had grown wild on my diet of polite letters f rom publishling houses who didn't want me, that I had been reeady to collect rejections from twenty houses, publish the Deer Park at my own expense, and try to make kind of publishing history.

Said Putnam's proprietor at the time, "I was ready to take The Deer Park without reading it. I knew your name would sell enough copies to pay your advance."

Success for Mailer, my hero.

But it came at considerable cost in emotion and energy.

Mailer goes on:

Now I've tried to to water this account with a minimum of tears, but taking The Deer Park into the nervous system of eight publishing houses was not so good for my own nervous system nor was it good for getting to work on my new novel.
In the ten weeks that it took the book to travel from Rinehart to Putnam, I squandered the careful energy I had been hoading for months: ther is a hard comedy as how much of myself I could burn up in a few hours of hot telelphone calls. I had never had any sense for practical affairs, but in those days, carrying The Deer Park from house to house, I stayed as close to it as a stage-struck mother pushing her child forward at every producer's office. I was amateur agent for it, messenger boy, editorial consultant, Machiavelli of the luncheon table, fool of the five o'clock drinks....


Yes, all that time and energy spent when you're smarting and on the edge of, face it, failure.

And it does not end here for Mailer. One reviewer:

"Crommy. Sordid. A bunch of bums."

Jesus. Tha would do me right in. In my writing carees the worst criticism was right here in this blog, where in a comment, some anynymous publisher's cipher called me a failure.
Felt like answering, "Well, identify yourself mother.ucker. Have you got three million words in commercial print? Well, have you?" And if you're a publisher, how many in your stable of authors can say that?"

Well, Mailer did something like that. Took out an ad that had the reviewer quoted. Said it cracked him up.

And then, a few years later, he produced the finest journalism in the world with his Fire on the Moon and Armies of the Night . And five fine novels after that.

Why am I on this antique Norman Mailer kick? The man is, after all, dead, though I am, I think, alive.

Because it made me feel better when I was down.

Mailer, the best American writer next to Updike, went through that?


And I am smarting over having two chapters rejected by Anansi?

Well. Afta suppa muddafukkah!


##

19 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

An advance? What's that?

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Ah advances.

Used to be able to get them from magazines in the Sixties. No more.
Back in he sixties I used to be able to get paid a Kill Fee of $750 from the Canadian Magazine even if my story was not used.

Try that today. Nobody has any money for freelancers. Editors keep it for themselves.

And a book advance. They are still there but if the book does not sell well (hey, rhyme!) the author is on the hook to pay back the advance.

Donnetta Lee said...

We sure can take a lesson. Get slapped down? Get yourself back up. Do it again. Do it again. You know, some of us have to -- do it in the first place! Sometimes it takes courage.
Donnetta

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Yes, Donnetta

Mailer was lucky firt time out.

And then, as if that victory hadn't been authentic, he had to learn to walk all over again.

Doubting Thomas said...

Rejection letters are character building, old trout. Paying one's dues. Early success is a curse, the road to a one-hit-wonder.
First you win the Bunsen Prize and everybody says you'll be the Next Big Thing, and then you're stackin' cutouts at the Strand.

Tom

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Old trout?

Corblimey.


Well, they used to say old fruit, but I guess they're disinclined to say that now.

I must go now. I think my mother is drawing my bawth.

Yep. Paying dues. And dues an dues.

ivan@creztivewriting.ca said...

Canada’s human rights commissions and tribunals are a system parallel to the court system. They are redundant and should be eliminated.

To the people who think that they are unique and provide a “service” different from court system, here is how they are they different:

--- They are not bound by rules of evidence, precedent, or courtroom procedure.

--- The state pays all the plaintiffs’ legal costs, but defendants must pay their own.

--- “Feelings” are accepted as evidence.

--- The “likelihood” of damages being incurred, at some indefinite time in the future, substitutes for real damages that can be shown to have been incurred.

--- They have the power to “balance rights” and decide whose rights matter most in any given set of circumstances, thus citizens can never be sure, from day to day, what their rights are.

As a result, in Canada real justice is done only when HRC cases are appealed to the real courts.

Who wants to maintain the human rights commissions and tribunals? The people who want to use public money and resources to attack and smear their political opponents.

They have become an instrument for enforcing one’s own views using public money.

They are seeds of "cultural change" implanted into the bureaucracy by previous left-wing governments.

They have become a lobby group paid by the public purse.

They cannot be “reformed”, but need to be eliminated.

Posted by Giuseppe Gori

Note: Giuseppe Gori is leader of the Family Coalition Party, Canada.

Merelyme said...

Don't despair...just keep on keeping on. Came over from Donetta's blog to visit.

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Merelye.

Hi.

I am reminded of a story.

"Take me to town said the girl."

So I drove her to Toronto.

Anyway, here I am. You directed me to Donnetta's space. What was he reference?
Ya wanna go to Toronto? :)

p.s.

I rewrote the piece on Mailer, my hero. Donetta has already visited and so have you. Thanks, dolls.

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

...Oh dang.

The comment above was supposed to go into Donnetta's comment space on her blog.

I am a malfunctioning airman. Lead Zeppelin.

Full moon coming on for sure.

Lana Gramlich said...

Personally I think Atwood's WAYYYY overrated. I even gave her a second chance & still wished I had those hours of my life back!
These days, in particular, publishing isn't about quality work, it's about marketability & star power. Unfortunately, so's the art world, the music biz & everything else. And to think we're destroying the planet for this...what a f*cking world.

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Kinda shaky ground here.

She has gone to bat for me here and there.

But one New York critic had come out and said the lady has no imagination. For a writer?

Wow.

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

p.s. To Lana.

Ten years ago, on CBC, some sort of "bitch fight" developed between Jorn Irving and Tom Wolfe.

Irving: Wolfe? He can't write. He cant fucking write!"

JR's Thumbprints said...

Here's a blog I discovered that most lit mag editors don't like:

http://literaryrejectionsondisplay.blogspot.com

Also, Blake Butler shares a rejection experience from a lit journal that printed the rejected story prior to the rejection. Something about new editors taking over.

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

JR,

Good stuff!

Heh. They guy could have been a clone of me.

Says " I am a published, award-winning author of fiction and creative nonfiction--but whatever. In the eyes of many, I am still a literary reject"

Hey!

And the rejection I got, the one I thought was written personally to me, reads a lot like the form rejection he got.
"After careful considerattion" and all that.

About the only thing different in my rejection was their encouragement to send more material--but that was after I bugged them to send back my script, and they couldn't.

I shall write no more on this.

Monique said...

Mmmmmmmmm, Ivan, still bitter?

It's a different thing now. So many bad, bad writers that the good ones are overlooked again and again.

They cannot see the tree through the woods (if that's the right expression).

Me? I can't be bothered anymore.

I watch a real bad production on tv with the actors making the best of it. Good actors in a bad story. Actually make that great actors in a crap story, but hey they need to pay their bills too.

Why is that on and not mine??

Beats me.

lol

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Monique,

Why not you ideed?

Take TV Ontario.

Canadian TV is swamped with foreign content, largely British, and some if it is not all that good. The same is true with PBS in Buffalo. PBS being American (though twinned with Toronto), tries to uses some Canadian content, but it is not enough.

Where are the Canadian script writers? Don't we have any? They're just not there, neither At
TVO or CBC.
...Oh, I'd better check that. There is "Little Mosque on the Prairie" on CBC and something called "Trailer Park Boys" about assholes living in trailer parks.

Below is a breathless announcement on all the British series coming to our TVO this fall.

The best of British drama comes to TVO
Guest Author - Pam Lawrence

It's that time of year again when we feel the crispness in the air and all our thoughts turn from SPF 50 to what's new on the box. There have been some exceptional dramas made this past year in the UK, and Canadian viewers will be delighted to hear they are coming our way.

Quality drama, to me, is what the Brits do best and TVO, the publicly funded Ontario broadcaster, has it in the bag as far as fabulous content goes this fall. It's the channel that brings us the perennially popular long running shows Heartbeat, and Midsomer Murders as well as the quirkily enjoyable David Jason in police favourite Frost.

But this fall, the broadcaster, whose mandate is essentially 'educational' television, practically blows the competition out of the water with its drama offerings, as well as some exceptional documentaries. No fluff here, and, even more wonderful, no commercials either. This channel is a gem; our True North's answer to PBS."

Who told her Hearbeat was a good show? Yorkshire had some fine writers but John Braine and his once-partner,our own Mordecai Richler are long gone
There will never be anything as good as "Life at the Top."

And "Frost?"

TVO money is forcibly extracted from us to "further education" and we get Midsomer Murders.

As for comedy, what's wrong with something like your Middle Ditch? in some segments?

I just resent having my tax dollars go to not very good British shows instead of education.
We coul at least educate viewers with Canadian series.

Or, for that matter Middle Ditch-- life in a boarding school, with a kind of halo on it. Not Tom Brown or Dickens , but a kind of send-off to girls' boarding schools, something you are very adept in creating.

Brtitish content. Fine.

But let's give some fledgling British writers a chance, now that all we seem to air is British stuff anyway.

Monique said...

Heartbeat used to be a breath of fresh air but it's now well past it's sell by date.

I must admit that I do like John Nettles in Midsummer murders and David Jason is just such a good actor.

Just wait until you get The Tudors and their bodice ripping yarn (yawn) and some other god awful series.

I'm turning to ITV3 all the time now where they show some good old fashioned re-runs of near forgotten good times. I hugely enjoy it.

lol

ivan@creatiewriting.ca said...

Monique,

Ha. We juest bought the Tudors for Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

Enough to make you mumble.

The Canadian Broadcorping Castration.

It is my opinion that Henry VIII should have been castrated.