Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Life's candy, and the sun's a ball of buddah

Eye on the target and wham,
One shot, one gun-shot, and BAM -
Hm. Well, it isn't Mr. Arnstein I'm after, but something infinitely more elusive and devious (and it plays a mean game of poker).
I want to get published again. I need to get published again. I have three books written, all finished and ready to go. Three. All are publishable, as far as I am concerned. But has anyone ever seen them?

That would be a big "no".
People have weird ideas about being published. "Must cost quite a lot, I'd imagine. Are you going to take out a loan?" "Is your book going to be on the bestseller list?" "Don't writers all help each other get published - I mean, kind of like one big artist's colony?" Yeah, like I'm going to tell all my sneaky colleagues how to get published so their nasty little novel can kick MY novel's ass!
It isn't at all what you think.
When my dream came true, after thirty years of pining and longing and bloody hard work, it came true the same way it does for maybe 85 or 90% of writers. There was one big popping flare of fireworks, then fast-fading embers raining down, then . . .
It didn't matter how good the reviews were (stuff like "fiction at its finest "- no kidding). They meant nothing. I was supposed to run all over the country on my own dime and try to drum up interest. But I also learned that readings and posters and web sites and all that shit made no difference at all.
So what does make a difference? Something called "buzz". If a novel is "buzzy", it automatically has tons of readers right out of the starting gate.
Buzz is like sex. No one tells you what it's all about, or how to get it. You just sort of fumble around, and fail most of the time. And when the novel fails to sell, guess who gets the blame? Mr. Agent? Ms. Publisher? Don't make me laugh!
I can't stop writing, which I guess means something, good or bad. I have kept writing and kept writing through the most hideous, soul-destroying crises of my life. I now have two novels and a book of poems, all of which I feel deserve publication. I WANT SOMEONE TO READ THEM, GODDAMN IT!
In many people's minds, this is sheer ego. "Oh, isn't writing its own reward? Can't you just do it for self-expression?" (Or, worse, "leave it for your children").
No one expects a concert pianist (or a gymnast, for that matter) to play in an empty hall, but we writers are seen as crass and egotistical if we want someone to look at what we've slaved over for years. Stories must be TOLD, not chucked into a drawer. An untold story isn't even a story.
So, Mr. Arnstein, you big galoot, you mustachio'd rat fink, I'm pursuing you once again. Like Barbra Streisand in that ridiculous sailor suit , it's one roll for the whole shebang.
Hey, all you agents, pundits, arbiters of literary taste - get ready for me, love, 'cause I'm a comer - so even if this fantasy-trip is a bummer -
Is gonna