Friday, November 14, 2008

Tired of getting fired... I must enjoy the process.



My editor at the Globe & Mail is gone.

I tried to contact her at her new post as literary agent. She seems to be ignoring my screeds and pitches.
So I write to everybody these days, even The Wicked Witch of Publishing who is herself on a roll with a book she's flogging for somebody else, titled, I think JET LAG.


Seems like a doggy sort of book, but aren't we all jet-settters these days, inflated fares or no? You gotta get around especially at Christmas time. And you wonder, as you finally get home, why your behavious is suddely strange, you hear a phone ringing and ask, "What is that thing?"; the same with your computer and keyboard.

Familiar things seem strange, you get claustrophobia and argue with your spouse. ..Like right now I am here in body, but my soul is surely in Mexico.

Like the guy in the joke with the born-again wife. "Your heart may belong to Jesus, but...."

I am heartened to hear from well known writers that they get jet lag. Real bad. I thought the problem was unique to me, but lookee here:

Dave Newton Says:

November 7th, 2008 at 11:06 am
A question for the experts:

After a long day of writing and editing, I experience a strange set of symptoms — namely, well, I don’t know quite how to describe them…I feel, well, disoriented — I actually don’t know where I am, for long minutes at a time. I try to concentrate on where I am, but can’t. I stress myself so hard trying to recognize my surroundings that, before I know it, I’ve developed a headache. It’s almost as if I’ve passed into another time zone. Can your techniques help me? I’m feeling a little spacey right now.

Jeez. What else is new? I think I'm that way every morning. And as for writing, i might as well be Ferdinand the Bulll.
Ever try writing? It's impossible. That's why I write blogs like this.
And even here, there is disorientation, claustrophobia and really worrying about my maxed- out credit card.

I must get a job. A real writing job. But that takes brains and a lot of practical thinking. After all, a freelance writer is really a businessman and you've got to get into accounting, tax forms--and find some lie to tell the pension people about your added income, for they are niggardly and will trim your old age security.

I used to freelance casually, sending out seven pieces in hopes that one would stick. This used to work in the past, but now it seems all seven stories land in somebody's trash can.
Well screw you, editor. Like any self-respecting character assassin, I'll getcha. Send a paper airplane with a pointed nose right to the centre of the edifice.
Like they used to say in Father Knows Best, "We don't mess around, boy."
But then most of my past editors don't even talk to me.

thirty years ago, I was let go by the Oakville Beaver (sic) for rather crummy writing. At least the publisher thought it was crummy as I started to interview relatively unknown New York singers(at least unknown in Canada) like Elly Stone, who was sort of the poor man's Edie Piaff. I loved Elly and wanted to spread the good news to Toronto. "Whom do you think you're writing for, Rolling Stone?" the editor hissed. "Here. Interview this really cool champion baton twirler from Oakville.
I went to interview the champ, but her father had her practising in the basement. She had hit one of the joists with her baton, which bounced and knocked out all of her front teeth.
"Well, at least that's a story," said the publisher, puffing on his havana.

Ah well. Man bites dog.
Baton bucks back.
Ivan in bucks.
But even my baton and better mouse trap stories got to be a little long-winded. Said another publisher, Fred Cederberg, "I can' t keep this up any more; you can't keep it up any more. You and I are parting commpany."

Twenty years later, I went back to Fred, after a successful novel publishing and my own column in TOPIC Magazine.
He was now working for the Department of Transport, in Downsview ON. I no sooner sat down across the desk from him that he said, "You can't get it up any more."
Why the nerve. I was now God's gift to publishing now. Why is he suddenly so arrogant?

The answer was in the library shelf behind him. "The Long Road Home", by Fred Cederberg. Hard cover.

"See me when you get to hard cover." said Fred.
Said the receptionist as I turned to leave, "Better you than me."
Felt like the guy in the movie, like Beau Jeste or something. Stripped of all my medals, cap and even moustache.
Jesus. I'm so tired of being fired.
Like Gerry Barker firing me at the Star. I came back three times by different routes, Starweeek Magazine, The weekend leisure edition, the exurban insert. Gerry caught me every time and fired me. I really think the man had a problem.
Some lady gushed to him how fine a writer Ivan was. Jerry sucked on his cigar. "We don't think so."
He didn't know I was on the other phone. Gerry, with all your accomplishments, are you jealous of me? Or do you just enjoy kicking my ass?
Ah well. Maybe he had a point. I was, at times something like the Girl With the Curl. "When she was good, she was very good, but when she was bad, she was horrid."
I finally found Gerry again as editor of York Magazine.
...and he fired me again.

Roadrunner and Coyote. The sudden drop from the mesa. Puff of smoke. Beep-Beep.
But there was another Gerry who never fired me, would give me $700 advances for just an idea. But Gerry Anglin is dead, God rest his sweet soul, and I am starting to die as a freelance writer.

My novel titles are all over Google and Amazon and Abelard Books, but for some reason, I seem to pull back every time I come near success. Was that the case with Gerry Barker?...Hit me, says the masochist. No, says the sadist.
This is worrisome. A Saddy-Massy relationshijp with an editor. Who knew?

There is certainly a lot of masochism out there with oft-rejected writers. I mean would you take that much rejection without kind of enjoying it?

Heh heh. The staff of TOPIC Magazine once caught a snapshot of Gerry Barker with his pants down, reading something while on the can. I think the pic was doctored a bit. I don't think he was reading Playboy.

Gerry fired the entire editorial staff. Ah well.

We do remain friends. Can't say the guy has no sense of humour. I like to hear the story of a well-known woman journalist
who, in her newspaper days, took on the entire male editorial rim, four copyeditors, each of whom had this ear-to-ear smile, like the puffed-up automatic pilot in the hilarious movies, Airplane.

Well, I'm a guy. Where are you, female former Globe&Mail editor?

I'll get under your desk!

I'll write a food column. Anything.

##

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10 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

See me when you reach hardcover. Damn, that's cruel. Freelancing would drive me insane.

How's your sanity, by the way? ;)

http://www.creativewriting.ca said...

Clazy. Like roon.:)

Donnetta Lee said...

Guess it really is dog eat dog out there. I just hate rejection. D

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Budgets for people coming in cold to magazines and newspapers are almost non-existent...unless you have a name...Well, I usta.

the walking man said...

Go back to Gerry Barker for a job...he has to hire you before he can fire you right? You may not write well enough for him but you at least are giving him some pleasure without being under the desk.

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Mark,

As always, you are right on.

At about the beginning of my career, it was Jerry Barker at the Star, who, though admitting I was something of a flake, got me into a column some years afterwards and nominated me for the Ontario Weekly Newspaper awards...I guess I disappointed him a bit. I got an honourable mention, not first.
But he kept me employed over the years, though I don't know how many times he fired me.
Sort of a love-hate relationship without the Oval Office number.

Jeez, I hope Jerry is still alive.
With all that banging around, he managed to elevate me from occasional ferry boat cleaner-upper to teacher of writing at Seneca College.
I guess we sort of fought like brothers.
But in the end, Jerry was always more the sure-footed scribe.
Guess that's why he was always on top.
Managerial resposibilities kept him away from the pen, and I guess he had to throw an apprentice down into the well. I couldn't manage very well, but I could write.
And his business wheelings and dealings, including buying a half-million dollar Web offset press, kept him away from the pen, which, I think was his strongest suit.
Ah hell. I love the bastard.

Lana Gramlich said...

I think it's harder these days than ever before. With the advent of the computer & the internet, EVERYONE seems to fancy themselves a writer (or even an artist, albeit sometimes merely a "digital" one.) I sympathize w/you, bud.

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Honest of you, Lana.

Honest as an artist.

Guess we all need a pat on the back.

Thanks.

Jo said...

Ivan, I think writing well would be very difficult. I read an article recently by Stephen Hume. He is a senior writer for the Vancouver Sun, and his article was pure, unadulterated crap. Talk about purple prose. It was so high-strung and emotional, I felt sick. And yet, he is considered a good writer!

Go figure!

ivan@creativewritng.ca said...

Jo,

Funny thing.

My friend Joan Maynard, a fine witer, was told by the Globe and Mail that she was too facile a writer, and no "boring enough for us."
This was the Globe in l968.

As a headline writer for the Globe, I was told zippy headline writers "are shat upon here.
"You have to "back into a story," subject, verb, predicate."

Lana Gramlich, a fomer Canadian, said she thinks the Globe is dull.

There was a fresh breeze in the l99o's when some new editors came in and I could get away with "zippy copy."
Fact is, I hate to say, any broadsheet west of Winnipeg is usually of high school essay calibre. Sort of like the Globe in the Seventies.
But the Nationl Post, Star and Sun here, have some fine writers.
But they are heavily, heavily edited.
You have to read Eric Margolis in the Sun. In my opinion, he carries the whole paper as a seasoned world-travelled correspondent and a fine writer. Lorrie Goldstein, the editor is very good, when he gets the wind up...But the SUN is conservative....Wonder why the keep good and true Eric Margolis.
He was against the Iraq war from the word go, but they kept him.
I guess it was his style and his awards both here and all over the world.

re the Englishman at the Vancouver Sun.

Well it has been known in my circle of rogue English teachers the "Limeys can't write. Russkies can.
Hey!
Bias, bias. :)