I wrote about a new novel that came to me in a dream the other night (“Spinning Up”). One unmentioned aspect was the newly conceived novel’s cover. I saw it in the dream. The cover felt and looked so real and substantial to me that I was nonplussed. The title, April Showers 1921, was embossed gold letters on a silver cover. It seemed so real that I looked up the title to determine if that book already existed. Without surprise, I found songs, books, and short stories called April Showers, but none had the 1921 addition, and none featured silver and gold covers. I seem safe with it.
I’ve worked on April Showers 1921 some since dreaming about it, fleshing out characters, setting, and writing some scenes, but I didn’t throw myself into it. After two days of that, I wondered, why not? I realized that indecision caused by my greatest weakness, over-analysis, was paralyzing me once again.
It’s a familiar scenario. I overthink something. That drains my resources, and I stop making progress until I resolve what I’m overthinking.
Naturally, this paralysis is all founded on a writing issue, specifically — this time — finding an agent for the Incomplete States series. I think I’ve identified several potential agents. I narrowed my search to one lucky agent. I’ve written a synopsis and query letter. That’s where I stopped.
The Incomplete States series employs several styles. In terms of recent books, it reminds me of Cloud Atlas. My series science-fiction infused, but its mostly literary, except the first novel has a science-fiction military noir feel to it. Fantasy flares strong in another book, while yet another has the sensibility of historic fiction.
Yes, I enjoy genre B&B – bending and blending – whether I’m reading or writing it.
On a side note, the great and all-knowing Internet says, don’t mention any of the rest of the series when seeking representation and publication of the first book.
For grins, I hunted down the rejection records for successful writers. I’ve followed this path before, so it’s very familiar to me.
J.K. Rowling. Her Harry Potter series was rejected twelve times, you know. Dr. Suess was rejected twenty-seven times before he found a publisher willing to take a chance on his Cat in the Hat book. The author of The Martian, Andy Weir, had given up on being published, but kept writing and self-published. When The Martian found success, publishers came running. Kathryn Stockett, The Help, was rejected over sixty times. Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle in Time, had twenty-six rejections. Catch-22, Joseph Heller, twenty-two rejections. Twenty for William Goldberg, The Lord of the Flies. Carrie, by Stephen King, was rejected thirty times. Pretty amazing was that Still Alice, by Lisa Genova, experienced over one hundred rejections. After she self-published and had success, publishers came calling, and her novel was made into a movie starring Julianne Moore, who won an Oscar for her performance.
There was also Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita, over five times, and Robert Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, rejected one hundred twenty-one times.
Reading about these rejections is invigorating and inspiring. You gotta have hope, optimism, belief, and determination. You gotta keep writing for the love of writing.
Writing about my paralysis cleared matters up and broke the log jam. (I now have a featured image of logs floating through my mind.) I’m ready to submit. (Ha, ha, I love how that can have multiple meanings.) All they can do is say no, right?
The day is full of promise. I got my coffee. Time to submit, and then write and edit like crazy, at least one more time.
He sighs when he wakes up, realizing it’s another day, and sighs when he gets out of bed, stands, and sits, motions stiff with pain. Sighs slip out as he makes his meals and eats them, and as he reflects on his life. Sighs accompany every task, as if his world is filled with strife. Sighing, he works hard to do what he can, trying to get by, contemplating his death, sighing, holding on, and trying to stay alive.
Make a decision. Choose a direction, get off your ass, and put some energy into it.
My theme music for yesterday was Seal’s ‘Crazy’. The recurring refrain, “Yeah, we’re never gonna survive, unless we get a little crazy,” became my dream’s theme music last night.
Last night’s dreams was like a television series. I binged on an entire season. Each episode followed its own arc. Each featured ‘Crazy’ as music after the episode’s climax.
The dreams began with one in which, I thought, how funny, I’m not even in this dream. I was witnessing a convention. It was a packed, happy, energetic crowd. Displays were being set up. Demonstrations took place.
I drifted into one demonstration, making my first appearance in the dream. It was about hacking. Interesting and amusing. No, not just about hacking, my dream persona observed, but hacking magic.
I was with friends. Everyone was perplexed about what was being demonstrated. Suddenly, I grasped it; when three cubes could be aligned and turned into one color, magic took place.
Like the old computer game, Tetris.
But more magic hacking was being demonstrated. Fascinated, I separated from my friends to pursue learning this magic. Each episode took me further from there and deeper into a quest. By the season’s end, I was alone at a black magic convention. Other people were present but I didn’t know any of them. I was broke, gaunt, dirty and unshaven, with long, disheveled hair and threadbare clothing.
The setting was a dark, wet and decrepit abandoned arena. Others seeking magic and energy were present. An intense scene, we all knew of each other but didn’t know one another. We wanted to help one another but were also leery of the others. But this is where my quest for more had taken me.
Needing rest, I slept on the second floor, sharing a urine stained mattress and Army blankets with a stranger, another man. Although younger, he seemed in worse condition than me, sleeping the entire time while I tossed and turned. I was specifically seeking…a magic manuscript.
Three times, I tried finding and acquiring it. The fourth time, I succeeded.
And then I lost it.
The others knew this and were sympathetic. There were suggestions the manuscript had been stolen.
With some detective work, I found it.
But I was running out of time. The convention was ending. I wanted to present the manuscript to the convention leaders. A bus would take me to them. I missed the bus once…twice…. The manuscript disappeared again. I found it again but missed the bus again, even though others had helped me.
By this point, I was almost a filthy, barefoot beggar. On a tip from another, I learned that the convention leaders were coming through on their way to leave. I could intercept them. The rest encouraged me to do that. Which I did, presenting my manuscript.
It was a big, black, fat, unwieldy document. The leader, a suave man who looked like a young Jon Favreau, glanced at it as he walked by. “It’s not what we’re looking for.”
Yet, this was the magic. I knew it was.
Defeated and out of time, I headed home. I was broke and exhausted. It was a hard journey.
My wife was in the bathroom, getting ready for a party behind closed, locked doors. I could hear her humming. Others began arriving to set up. They were bringing in food and cakes. All were people I knew during my life, friends from other eras.
They were in good spirits, which spread to me. I began cleaning myself up to join the party. At that point, I knew the season was over, but the series was not. More was to come.
Cue ‘Crazy’ and the show’s ending.
I awoke despondent and sat alone in the living room for a while, watching the day grow brighter and thinking about my dream. Clearly, I thought, this was about my writing efforts and my career. I was seeking the magic. I’d missed.
But, it wasn’t over. As ‘Crazy’ streamed through my head and I began my daily routines, I took some solace from the hope, it wasn’t over.
There are more seasons to come.