Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Paradise lost

I don't know if it's really gonna be like this, but Cavalia, a travelling horse show which is billed as a kind of Cirque de Soleil with horses, is supposed to be impressive beyond words. They claim to train their horses naturally with hand signals, and yes, I know it can be done, with years of patience. And it's a damn sight better than the foam-dripping mouths of horses with their chins cranked into their chests, hiking their knees so high they must risk injuring themselves with every performance.

You hear stories of heavy clunky boots strapped on to the feet of Tennessee Walkers, forcing them to lift their hoofs higher than they know how. Sometimes harsh chemicals are applied to their feet to blister them into obedience.

Anyway, it won't be like that tonight, as I watch in wonder on opening night of Cavalia in Vancouver. We lucked into four choice tickets from a news anchor at my daughter's workplace: all the anchors got free tickets, whereas the mere reporters, who work twice as long and hard, got doodlysquat. But fortunately, the 11:30 p.m. anchor couldn't attend, and so. . .

And so, four of us, my daughter, 7-year-old Caitlin, her little friend and I, will sit and watch (in good seats, saved for media who might write it up or broadcast a glowing report) as horses prance and dance, and riders twirl around balletically as they gallop in circles.

The horse is my totem animal, my touchstone, the essence of my soul, even though I never get to spend any time with them. This seems to symbolize the essential frustration I feel about living on planet Earth: I am forever thrust out of Eden, though there was a time when I lived there and didn't even know it.
That time whizzed by at light speed, leaving me behind to look around in bewilderment: where have all the horses gone?

This blog originally was supposed to be about The Writer's Life. Phoooey on that. If it is, it's a place to pour out the corrosive acid of having doors continually slammed in my face. The situation seems nearly hopeless, as I am long past writing for fun or amusement. An author, like an actor, is someone who has crossed a certain threshhold. Driving cab will never do it, though everyone seems to think I should just be happy I put those books out at all.

Well, maybe I should be.

Writer's workshops and conferences (and books and more books) tell you how to present your work to editors effectively. Yes. And that's about it. No one tells you how to navigate the desperate minefield of actually dealing with publishers when you are at cross-purposes with them, and when your agent continually sides with them as they slowly mangle your work to pieces.

What does all this have to do with Cavalia? Exactly nothing, except that horses, like publishing my novels, seem to be part of a great Paradise Lost that I wander around in every day. I must have had some sort of stupid expectation that I would go on publishing. I went on writing, after all, didn't I? I wrote three more books. And there they sit, warehoused.

I wonder if maybe this really is about the writer's life, as every other writer I've talked to tells the same bitter story. Yet, at the same time, someone is being published, or there wouldn't be a publishing business, would there? Well, would there?

It's just that the someone needs to be me.