Yesterday, over at the Mad Genius Club, Sarah was talking about all of the seeming impossibilities that loom before the aspiring writer, which continue to loom even after the writer has been published and received accolades and money. She warns writers not to look at all their unpublished work, throw up their hands in despair, and go out into the back yard and burn it.
I had what I now believe to be one of those illuminating ideas that leak out of my fingers on to the keyboard (or sometimes emerge from my lips) which are, in fact, either Wisdom from God, or some previously unconnected and unsuspected synapses which suddenly click. What I wrote in my response to her post was (in part):
"It’s not just your old/bad/amateurish work that goes on the bonfire. In ‘Bang the Drum Slowly’ deNiro burns all of his old sports clippings, and in ‘Leaving Las Vegas’ Nicholas Cage does the same thing with all his old scripts. In those examples, they were saying goodbye to the glory days that were never going to come again, but there is a healthy way to make a bonfire, too. It’s a pretty good idea for me to burn what I thought was going to happen, if in the light of the fire I can see the gift of what I’m doing right now.
My closest colleague, from the days when I was working, awarded me the title of 'Wordsmith.' A few years back, I met another colleague, then a principal at the middle school they built next door to my house (GRRRR!!), and after greeting me, she asked "When is the book going to come out?" My gift-from-God, happily-ever-after trophy wife Vanessa, the elegant foxy praying black grandmother of Woodstock, GA, has insisted that we publish our love letters and a narrative of our courtship with the title "The Motorcycle White Boy and The Church Lady." At one point, my pastor, the beloved PJ, told me that as a part of recovering from this freakishly limited life I found myself living , I must write something every day, which I promptly did not do, but I sorta did it for a while. That's how this blog got started two years ago.
So, I was to be a writer. I am a writer. But how to let the world know that? I had a few short stories, a couple of which could be expanded into books, and I found a book that told you how to get published, and which agents did what, and I made some submissions, and I got back polite form letters that told me it wasn't what they were looking for. I've got a file, somewhere, of the rejection letters, few in number, of which I am perversely proud.
So, months of no writing actions, apart from emails and the increasingly rare entries in this blog (some of which are quite brilliant, however). Then, last summer, Cedar Sanderson posts a for-a-short-time-only freebie on Amazon, called "Plant Life," and I review it. Then I review another couple. Then I discover the Kindle Unlimited program, and join, with express intent of reading and reviewing everything written by the members of the Mad Genius Club. And now, four months later, I discover that I am a writer. That discovery came about after reading Sarah's aforementioned column, writing my response, and shazam! in the light of the bonfire of what I thought was going to happen, I saw the gift of what I'm doing right now. It took me a couple of repetitions and some additional evidence, but I suddenly became aware that I am making a contribution in what may be the most valued currency to an author: feedback.
So, I can now go to the office: my easy chair in my man cave. I assemble the tools of my trade: a couple of throws to cover my legs, my laptop, a cup of cold water lightly flavored with lemon juice, and perhaps most importantly, a big fat Manx cat named SugarBelly to sit on me while I read and review.
Hey! After 7 1/2 years, I'M WORKING AGAIN!! YAHOO!!