#AWL

Time for a rant. Are you ready, boys and girls? Point of order, sir, but this is as much a whine as it is a rant.

Okay, point accepted. I’m full of complaints and do a lot of poor, poor, pity poor me first-world blues rants. This is another. That aside, let’s rant.

I’ve written fifteen novels. 

People say, “Fifteen? Really?”

Yes, sure, but that’s a number. There’s a story behind the number. There’s an asterisk beside it.

The first novel, as with many writers, was five-star crap. In the crap world, five-stars means it’s the worse possible crap. There’s no crap that exceeds its crappiness. It was an experience, though, that helped me understand more about my writing process.

Knowing that it needed more attention and focus than I was willing to give it, I printed out the stack, along with editing notes, and put it on disks, and set it aside. Someday, I’ll return to you, I promised it.

“Point of order, sir, but, despite that quantity, maybe you’re not a very good writer.”

Thank you for pointing that out. You’re right. That might be the case. I’m trying to do the best that I can. I keep trying to improve.

“Another point, sir.”

What now?

“Isn’t this really about your laziness and unwillingness to learn?”

Excuse me, but who are you? How did you get in here? Out, out, damn you.

Being obstinate, I proceeded to write five more novels. They were probably three-star and four-star crap. I knew where they had problems and what needed to be fixed. I didn’t want to fix them, because I wanted to write more and I didn’t want to bother with editing and revising. I liked writing, not editing and revising. I promised, someday I’ll edit them, but I knew that model a novel and setting it aside for editing and revising at a date TBA was unsustainable.

The next novel that I wrote, I said, “I must edit and revise this one. I need to learn that discipline.”

So, I did it. Yea, me! Sure. I then sought agents. I followed all of their parameters for submitting to them in hopes of persuading them to represent me, find a publisher, and get the novel published.

After almost a year of dealing with that, going through five agents, I hated that process. Maybe, I convinced myself (without too much difficulty), self-publishing is the way to go.

So I did that.

It was another process to learn, with as many obstacles and challenges as Ninja Warrior. Yes, the book was published. Yes, I sold some copies, but not nearly as many as hoped. I knew that I would need to market the book.

Oh, boy, more to learn.

I wanted to write; I didn’t want to learn how to market myself and my wares.

I told myself, someday I will. Then I wrote and self-published three more books, with just as little notice and sales, reminding me again and again, you need to market these books.

But…but…but…

Yeah.

Here I am again, this time with a complete series of five novels. Here I am again at the crossroads. Find an agent? Self-publish? Screw it all and just keep writing?

Not wanting to, first, hunt down a cover designer, copy-editor, acquiring an agent drew me. That’s the original dream, to write a novel, find an agent, have the novel published. In a sense, I’m returning home by taking that route.

Yes, I was again easily persuaded because that self-publishing journey had been less than rewarding and satisfying. I’m hoping that this journey will be more so.

I began with the standard search process. Who is out there? What do they want?

Lo, Jane Friedman had a decent article about finding an agent, and pointed toward #MSWL – Manuscript Wish List. That’s helpful, I thought with new gleams of hope.

Hah.

I have such rose-colored glasses, they should be illegal so that we can all save time and energy.

#MSWL has a search engine. What genre do you want? Put it in. Here’s the results. Wow, pages of results. How exciting.

Not after reading a bit more.

I searched for science-fiction. #MSWL’s search results include whenever science-fiction is mentioned. This includes when agents say, “I don’t want to see any science-fiction.” Ah. That was certainly fucking useful.

I spent hours searching #MSWL and PublishersMarketPlace, seeking someone interested in someone like me. I found some promising folks.

Well, it’s the year’s end. Many of those agents aren’t accepting right now. Check back in a few days, weeks, or months, and then they’ll be happy to see your work.

What agents say they want on their website, in their Twitter blurts, in articles and interviews, and in #MSWL do not align. One will say that they’re looking for SFF or some science-fiction variant while the other locations won’t mention it. Yes, and I understand from my efforts that it’s hard updating everything and every place.

YA seems to remain the hot market, judging from the number of agents hunting for YA manuscripts.

Also clear is that most agents will reply to you if they’re interested. They’ll usually respond in two weeks. However, if they’re not interested, you’re not going to hear back from them. Do not, of course, submit multiple submissions or simultaneous submissions, or anything like that, because that’s not far to them, and please don’t follow-up to see what’s going on with your query. They’re busy, you know.

That was the stake through my heart last time, that one-sided dimension to this whole business. Sipping a glass of medicating wine last night, I reflected that I needed to start #AWL – Author’s Wish Lists. But hell, that’s a short list. We want an agent. We want published. We want a painless process. Who doesn’t? Well, I could stipulate that I want an agent who wants me, that I want an agent who will respond to me to tell me, no, thanks.

Yes, before anyone notifies me of the obvious, that this is a competitive business, and yes, I know how many struggling writers are out there trying to find agents and get published, and, yep, I’m aware that others have gone through this, and that agents have limited resources, so they’re very sorry, but that’s what the situation dictates.

Yes, I know.

My muses are awake. They want to write. Do you see how many stories are out there, waiting to be written?

Rant over. Back to whatever.

 

 

 

 

 

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Floofpestral

Floofpestral (floofinition) – pertaining or relating to fields or open country where housepets like to roam.

In use: “The large field, bordered by a street, a creek, and two houses, became a floofpestral hangout on sunny days, especially for cats attracted to the birds and moles that frequented the field.”

J’accuse Dream

First, this has nothing to do with Zola’s letter, except the title. This is about my dream, aspirations, and doubts.

As background, I finished writing and editing a series of novels called Incomplete States. With that finished, I was moving into the next steps of what to do when you’re written a novel and want to get it published. Options are available.

My dreamscape has been quiet for several days so I didn’t think my decisions would show up in my dreams. But, boom, they came. When I awoke and thought about it, I laughed about what I’d dreamed.

The dream began with a new venture. People were expecting me and had high expectations for what I would do. I was relaxed, going about getting acclimated. As the dream progressed, I learned that I was in the military (again), involved with command and control.

Awakening, I thought, “Of course the military would be included.” I’d spent twenty years in the military. The structure helped me succeed without stretching myself. It was a comfortable existence. I often retreat to it in dreams.

Things quickly began going awry in the dream. I felt constantly behind and a little bit lost. I couldn’t find my uniform. I discovered I was already supposed to be somewhere, and I was late. Scrambling, I rushed to find my uniform, shave, dress, and get to work.

I was naked when my wife came in. “What’s this?” she pointed at my side. I couldn’t see what she referenced.

“Have you seen yourself in the mirror?” she said, and then steered to a mirror. “I think you’d better take a look.”

She pointed out several boils on my side. Horrified, I tried lancing them, and failed. The effort put me behind. Now I really had to scramble.

Awakening, I realized that I was facing my anxieties. “Have you seen yourself in the mirror?” That question seemed like I was trying to pretend to be someone else, and that I wasn’t clearly seeing myself and the situation, that I was misleading myself. And look how I’m blemished and flawed, the things I don’t see about myself, how I’m fooling myself. I took all of that about my publishing ambitions.

Finding shaving cream, I hunted down a mirror and started applying it to shave. The shaving cream was thick and brown. Crude and unfinished, I thought after awakening and reflecting on the dream, just as I worry that others will think about the series. 

Another military member in uniform stuck their head in the window. “What are you doing?” I said.

“Looking at someone using a mirror,” he said. “I’ve never seen that done before. I was wondering what it’s like.”

How absurd, I thought, but, awakening, I realized that I was questioning even the most basic aspects of myself. I remembered reading about experiments involving animals mirrors. Looking in a mirror and realizing that you’re seeing yourself is used to explore animal intelligence and self-awareness. By implying that I (as another entity in the dream) didn’t know how to use a mirror was a question about my self-awareness and intelligence.

A phone rang and I answered it. “We have an inflight emergency,” a male voice said. “We need you here to decide what to do.”

I was appalled. “But I don’t know what I’m doing.”

“Then you’re not coming?”

“No.” I hung up.

I didn’t need to think much about that aspect after awakening. The message behind the words seem nakedly clear, as did the next dream segment.

A chief master sergeant that I’d worked for during my first tour called me to him. “I’m sorry,” he said, “but this isn’t working out. To be honest, I expected more of you. It didn’t work out so I’m sending you back home.”

“‘But Chief,” I protested, but he wouldn’t listen to me.

Yes, it was all there, all the doubts, uncertainty, and uncertainty, along with rejection by a person in authority who I admired.

I thought I’d mastered these things, demonstrating again how easily I can fool myself. Yes, those doubts exist. Hell, they exist with the majority of efforts that anyone does. To reach and succeed, failure, ridicule, and exposure must be risked. These doubts are always in me, no matter how many times I’ve succeeded, or how often I’ve been reassured by myself and others. That’s just part of who I am.

While it gave me a good laugh to see how earnestly my subconscious mind (and thus, me) attacked me, it hasn’t changed anything. It’s there, and I know it, but I’m stepping out.

Cheers

 

Thursday’s Theme Music

As I’ve thought about what was happening and where I’ve decided to go, Peter Gabriel’s song, “Solsbury Hill” (1977) came to me. The song is about making decisions, taking risks, and changing, coming about when he left Genesis, the group he’d helped begin almost a decade before, to begin a solo career.

Many of the versus reflected his uncertainty about the decision.

To keep in silence I resigned
My friends would think I was a nut

Turning water into wine
Open doors would soon be shut

So I went from day to day
Though my life was in a rut

‘Til I thought of what I’d say
Which connection I should cut

Enjoy.

 

The Latest

In the 1960s, as far as I know, we came in America to have T.V. dinners. I remember the first time Mom brought a few home. She looked at the shiny, foil trays and asked, “Can this be any good?”

Thirty years ago, it was Tofu. Tofu was in everything or they were making it out of tofu. “What is it?” “It’s the miracle food, tofu!”

Tofu didn’t always lend itself to everything in the early days. I experienced some nasty, funky tofurkey on one ghastly Thanksgiving. But progress was made. Textures, appearance, and flavoring improved. Tofu came a looong way.

We shifted from white rice to brown rice. Fat-free and non-fat became the cry, but then people asked for a little fat. “Please, sir, may I have a little fat for flavor?” A little fat was added and pronounced low-fat. Sprouts and sprouted breads arose in favor. My wife, a vegan, then a vegetarian, and now a pescatarian, despises the sprouts, grumbling about them whenever they’re served to her on a salad or sandwich. Look out if it’s sprouted bread.

We’ve processed through other phases in the quest to be healthier. Plant-based and dairy-free cheeses arrived. Organic arose in favor. GMO free. Gluten-free. Kale jumped in there, making a brief splash on salads and as chips, and then, non-diary milks arose. They’d been around for a while, but suddenly things were being made of coconut milk, almond milk, soy milk, rice milk. Soon the ice cream aisle exploded with non-diary frozen desserts. Then —

Greek yogurt!

Now we’ve come to the latest. Gentle people, I give you the cauliflower.

Yes, it’s the miracle food, cauliflower. Eat it raw. Roast it in the oven and eat it instead of french fries (or roasted brussies, or roasted kale chips.) It’s great as a pizza crust or a creamy soup. Why should potatoes have all the glory? Have mashed cauliflowers instead of mashed potatoes.

I’m sure someone somewhere is working on cauliflower wine and cauliflower ice cream. What comes next? will it be the beets?

No, too obvious. Plant-based meats are making a run, but I think something else is on the way.

Solyent green, anyone?

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