I don’t write to be famous, I don’t write to be known, I write because I am and I want to be read. How sad to fill a room with paintings no one sees or play music no one hears. Writing is talking without sound, singing without score and dancing without movement and yet, it is all of them. It is a solitary art conjured from thought and expressed by the need to communicate.

HEAD-SLAPS, SPEED-BUMPS and LIGHT-BULBS, one woman's WTF, oops and ah-ha moments of life, is the name of my memoir/essay collection with why I wrote what I wrote and what happened after. They were published once and as every writer knows, once is not enough.


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Fireflies


New ideas are like fireflies, on, off, on again, lost among the leaves. Problem is that around here, in Connecticut, fireflies are waning. No one knows why, they just are. Problem is, around here in my head, ideas are waning too. No one knows why, but I do, too many leaves.

I have so many projects I would like to work on, that double the hours, double the days would not give me enough time. So I picked something I don’t have to finish…yet. A project presented by proposal.

Timing and ten years removed from the actual event, with enough story to bolster truth, gives me hope. It’s one of those, “It Could Happen to You” stories, an “Erin Brockovich” kind of unbelievable David and Goliath true tale. No one won the lottery, no one was poisoned but we were David and we went up against the biggest newsworthy bad-boy of the decade and guess what…we won. That’s what my proposal will be about, testing tenacity, truth and an against-all-odds triumph. Picture one of those scenes in a movie, when a huge door is being lowered and the good-guy has to run and slide under it and not be barred forever or crushed. That was us, sliding and making it through the opening, just before the door slammed shut. We made it to the other side and our lives changed

Because this story is so personal and because members of my family are against baring all, I have hesitated to chronical the journey until now. This story is convoluted, the background research will be extensive. We knew what was going on with us, what was going on with them is what I must discover. I can’t wait. When it comes to light it will explain, in a simple way, to an audience of millions, yes millions, how a monster’s failure saved a little guy.

I have contacted a number of agents, explained the specifics, and asked this one question only: can this be presented via proposal. Yes they all answered, most definitely yes.  So that’s what I am working on now, a story about the story.

It’s a hell of a tale. Unlike the waning fireflies, this idea will not be lost among the leaves, it will shed a flickering light that will eventually grow strong, fed by the fuel of the truism, that sometimes the nice guy at the end of the line is the last left standing. Like the movie title said, It Can Happen to You, it did. It happened to us.

When was the last time you won?

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Let my fingers do the cross-country walking


Edits done, I’m querying again and though it feels good to be back in the cross country race, I’m feeling lost.

 When you need a dentist, a doctor or a lawyer one of the worst things you can do is chose your educated expert from the phonebook; not that anyone actually uses a phonebook any more. If you have just moved to town you’re supposed to ask friends, neighbors and coworkers for who they use; word of mouth, the best reference.

Well I don’t know a lot of published authors, actually I don’t personally know any well enough to ask for the name of their agent or a reference. The only one who said I could use his name was awesome writer Garth Stein, Racing in the Rain. I actually read his book because of his agent, Jeff Kleinman.  He is also Averil Dean’s agent. Jeff is a true gentleman and though honest, he is not brutal. Years ago I submitted work to him, and even an earlier version of the memoir I am plying now, so with utmost respect he’s off my list, don’t want to make a pest of myself.

Searching for an agent, the right agent, the one who is taking on new clients and wants me because he or she loves my manuscript is about as possible as standing on a Wall Street sidewalk pan-handling for a financial advisor.

So here I am, by the curb, with my hand printed cardboard sign and a basket of apples queries for a dime free, handing them out to passers-by. Any takers?

How lost are you?

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Bare naked words


Remember your first paycheck? Not babysitting, lawn mowing or snow shoveling money but an actual paycheck, with a company’s name on it, signed by someone you didn’t know. Waiting tables, running a cash register, store clerk, sweeping the floor of a beauty salon or boat cleaning, the last two were my kids’ first jobs, that paycheck, the one which legitimized you as actually employed. Yup, that one, what a kick.

I was a sales clerk at E.J Korvette’s discount department store in St. Louis, Missouri.  My department, men’s haberdashery (habo). I told everyone I worked in men’s underwear. Even then I thought I was funny. It was a temporary summer job between my first two years of college.

I wanted to be an investigative curator in fine arts. Authenticating real from fake was my dream. I wanted to be the one to tell you that your Picasso or Pollach was not trash but worth tens of millions.

Little did I know, that though I would continue my education, I would never graduate from college and that my temporary job would lead to retail employment half way around the world.  Eventually lowly retail had me taking on store management, district management, and soul proprietorship of two retail establishments. All of that eased me into the start-up and management of a manufacturing company, that I would still be the CEO of today, if illness had not pulled the rug out from under my role as owner.

All those years, all those experiences, successes, feelings of joy and satisfaction, related to a job well done, can in no way compare to what I felt after receiving my first paycheck for writing.

August 14, 1988, $60.00 for 600 words in one paper and $75.00 for 700 words in a another paper, different subject, yes two on the same day. I swelled with pride and felt a kind of validation I had never felt before.

Over the years I have been paid many times for articles, op-eds and other journalistic pieces and during those same years I have written thousands upon thousands of words which have been published in newspapers, magazines and on-line and I have not-been-paid-a-dime.

Being published is wonderful, being paid is better.  Compliments, adoration and respect are everything, but when someone actually pays you for what races across your synapses and onto paper, that is validation, pure and uncomplicated.

Many a writer will spend years writing, a lifetime maybe, and not make a cent. Many more will write, get published and still not make any money. Are they any less a writer?

No.

But!

If publication is what you want, it is out there as long as you learn, listen and heed.

I am an essayist, still authenticating real from fake, an op-ed writer, the kind of word monger who rips off her clothes, I leave my underwear on, and shares what I am about.

A while back, I spent ten years writing fiction, unpublished. At times the effort broke my heart and yet, I learned, I listened and I heeded.

I learned long-form.

I listened to the experts.

I heeded the most important advice thrown my way.

At the end of a miserable day of dealing with rejection one-hundred something regarding novel number two, I stopped querying novel number one after my hundredth rejection, I told my youngest daughter I was, stick a fork in me, done with writing.

“Go back to what you know.” She said. I did and became a columnist.

If you are struggling, stop. Examine your form, your genre. Are you writing what you read, what you love, what you know, what you are good at? Do you share, do you listen to feedback and comments and do you heed what the industry and your heart is telling you.

Getting published is wonderful, being read is great and though being paid is better, it’s the writing stupid, the writing.  

These 700 words will never be traditionally published. Only a few very dear followers of this blog will read them. I will not be paid a cent and yet what I have keystroked here gives me immense pleasure. And to think, I did it with my clothes on.

How bare do you become when you write?

Thursday, September 11, 2014

What if...


I asked myself this question.

What if I didn’t write?

These are the answers I came up with after five minutes of pondering the unthinkable.

My first thoughts: I would watch way too much TV, eat more crap and go to bed earlier or maybe I’d walk more, work-out and take more time planning a healthier diet.

I certainly would have time to work a second job; I call writing “my second job” because it pays a little monetarily, self-esteem reimbursements are huge.

Maybe I’d volunteer my slack time, donate blood, have a cleaner house and spend more time with friends. I’d change every paint color on every wall, garden more and vacuum my car. The laundry would be done and I’d certainly shower more often, get my hair cut regularly and maybe even get a manicure once a month. That’s just the on-the-surface part of not being a writer, what about the deeper aspects.

Being creative is like breathing to me so I’d probably go back to painting or spend what little I have left on my charge card for a used piano. What I derive from writing is almost the same as writing the melody of a song, music as words, yes, almost but not quite the same.

If, in 1988 while my baby and toddler napped if I had not taken down my Selectric Electric from the shelf in the hall closet, if I had not made my daughters’ nap time my writing time, if I had never written, never submitted, never made it through the traditional newspaper publishing maze, I sincerely believe I would be a lesser person than I am today.

Writing is like a handful of ping pong balls rolling around in a bigger than a bowling ball empty fish tank. Roll here, roll there until they settle calm, and kiss at the bottom and then float to the top on ideas, wisdom and tenaciousness.

When I think of what I would have missed on that day in ’88 when the girls slept, if I had one more unread magazine in the house, or if I was tired and wanted to nap while they napped, or if the typewriter didn’t work or if I was out of paper and all the pencils were gone. What if I never believed that what I had to say mattered or if I thought learning was for someone else or that dreams were for fools.

What if I didn’t write?

I would live, but without the sweetness of oxygen.

What if you didn’t write?

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Fab Four, Fear and FDR


Have you ever been really, really, I mean really afraid to do something because you’d either get sick, get pregnant or die? Yes I wanted to get drunk after the prom, dance the deed with Jimmy the quarterback and drive 150 mph on the Rte. 66. But I was a new kid in town. I never went to the prom, Jimmy didn’t know I existed and I chickened out at 110.

Years ago I was interviewed on Fox News, (World-wide, NY studio) as a result of a video I made regarding, (it really doesn't matter now). I had two days to prepare and spent most of it in the bathroom. I was Ex-lax petrified and lost eight pounds.

I live two hours away from NYC but on the appointed day a limo picked me up and off I went. I did the whole green-room, make-up artist thing, appeared on camera and was interviewed by Martha MacCallum. As scared as I was, you know what I learned…it was easy, it was fun, I loved it.

Over ninety years ago the guy in the wheelchair said, “…the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

I think many writers place obstacles, create pitfalls and sabotage their own efforts because they fear success. I did, back when I was young, unguided and stupid.

I know of relationships, jobs and creative achievements I let go of, by way of, the ancillaries I failed to express, produce or accomplish. I was afraid of the requirements of love, the dedication to work and commitment to my passion. What if he didn’t love me, what if I didn’t like the job, they didn’t like me or what if I am merely mediocre at what I love to do.

I painted, won awards and shuttered my studio. I wrote music for a band, reveled in the performances and sold my piano. I wrote, almost everything I sent out was accepted, then I darkened my monitor. (For ten years).

I set my mind and hands to doing other things until I realized that I, we, all of us get only one ticket to ride. (Thank you John and Paul.)

I’m not afraid anymore. I am doing what it takes and if success, achievement, the call, whatever, doesn’t happen it will not be for lack of effort. It’s easy, it’s fun and I love it.

Do what fills your heart because ‘eventually’ is not a promise and ‘time’ is not forever.

I'm already planning an encore.

 

Friday, September 5, 2014

The good, the bad, the hopeful


Just want to say that I’m sitting at my kitchen table, my favorite place to write, and listening to the TV in the other room. A battle is going on in there, no one is watching, and yet in here, in my beautiful kitchen I am as content as a puppy on a lap.

On this day, I am grateful. On this day I am thankful. On this day the pain and angst of rejection is a memory and I am filled with hopefulness.

That’s what it is with writing, one day you’re a failure and the next you soar. It is a bi-polar craft for sure.

I’ve submitted something. It’s short, God-damned funny and sent to one of the most recognizable print-heads in the world. And I think it has a chance. I will sleep tonight with lottery ticket dreams of success. Life is good when you don’t know all the answers. When questions are exciting and anticipation makes you tingle, (like my dad always said), that’s what it’s all about.
 
What makes you tingle?

Monday, September 1, 2014

Walls

OMG how frustrating is this?

I have taken to heart agent comments regarding my memoir and implemented changes which I believe are needed as a result of (in-between the lines) tone. It’s ready (again) so I’m on to another round of querying. I’m being very selective, not using the spaghetti against the wall method. Here’s the frustrating part.
Last night I finally tracked down the agent representing one of my favorite authors. Her memoir is life changing. I’ve been on the agent’s site before but have shied away because I could not find an email address. If you don’t take email queries, I get it. But, if you state that you do, and give explicate directions in you submission guidelines as to how to submit, then please list an address. Maybe it's me. Maybe I'm missing something obvious. There are other agents in the agency and though I was directed to follow their guidelines if I wanted to submit to them…no email addresses for them either. Is this an oversight or a ploy?

I think I have read every interview and about half a dozen testimonials about how awesome this agent is and yet…hello, where are you. For two hours last night I searched and searched and got more frustrated. If you really DON’T want email queries that’s fine but if you say you do…then at least give me an address.

In life I have learned that when you have to work hard for something, that’s good, it makes you appreciate what you have. That which comes easily is diminished by effortless accessibility.  But sometimes when the walls morph high and wide and are made of brick, with no portals, not even a crack to peek through or a chink to pitch over the top, maybe, just maybe, what you are seeking is not meant for you.

Yup, this stage regarding the effort to get traditionally published is frustrating but with a product that has received some really good comments, I’m up for it. My sledge-hammer days are over. Where's my ladder? Has anybody seen my ladder? I'm not afraid of heights.