Archive for December 18th, 2009

A Confession

on December 18, 2009 in Misc Comments Off on A Confession


And now for some soul-baring.

My darlin’ blog commenter Robert asked me if I’m in the process of writing The Compass Master or waiting until the end of my Layla plan to finish it.

Oh, I’ve certainly finished The Compass Master.  I’ve written it, rewritten it, polished it, and after months of trying found a good agent who agreed to take it on.  That’s the good news.

The bad news is:  since about the time I started my Layla plan, I’ve been in a state of denial.

Around August I started telling myself there was still hope that a publisher would pick up The Compass Master.  My agent was really good and trying very hard.   I’ve been published before, which should help.  And not yet a full year had passed since she’d started to send my manuscript around to editors.

Hell, it took two years for Charlaine Harris’s novel Dead Until Dark to find a publisher; then it became a bestseller which begot a bestselling series which gave birth to a hit show on HBO.  Twenty-seven rejections descended on Flags of Our Fathers – half a year on the New York Times bestseller list, a movie directed by Clint Eastwood.  And there’s Ironweed – won the Pulitzer.  Confederacy of Dunces – another Pulitzer.  Harry Potter, for crissakes!  And the biggest bestseller of all time?  Gone with the Wind. Twenty-five rejections.




You know, it’s really sad the way we writers can recite so many rejection stories by heart.  We rattle them off the way Red Sox fans babble about batting averages.  They give us comfort.  They infuse our bruised hearts with healing hope.  They hold at bay our fears that what we have written cannot be truly good because the gatekeepers of the printing presses may never cast an approving eye our way.  We tell these stories to our friends and families when yet another too-brief, impersonal rejection has slapped our manuscript back into our weary hands.

How pathetic.  And how very passive.

And that’s the ugly truth – that there really is a terrible passivity to the traditional publishing process for writers.  You take action and develop discipline and a sheer force of will and write a book.  Then you give it to a stranger to decide what to do with it?  Oh please.

I mean, God bless book editors and editors-in-chief, copy editors and all the rest.  Like writers they’re human.  They can make brilliant decisions and whopping mistakes.  They’re also shamefully undervalued by the bean-counting corporations that now own their once independent companies.  And with the bad economy and declining book sales they’re really hurting.  They’re also facing changing technologies and the power of the internet which in turn may radically transform their industry in much the same way the music industry is being forced to change.

All of which means I’ve finally faced the facts and made a plain, clear-minded decision.

I must stop being passive, bypass all the middlemen, and publish The Compass Master myself.

I myself must make decisions about the cover, choose the artist, write the blurb on the back, hire a printer, engage the necessary services, find a distributor, plot a promotional campaign, and all on a shoestring budget.  And that’s just for starters.

Do all these tasks seem overwhelming to me?  Oh, hell yes!  Yet the very prospect is also giving me a growing sense of strength and purpose.  If I want to see my book published then I should stop waiting for others to help me and simply do it myself.  No big deal.  Now get on with it.  And don’t expect great sales or any reviews because they likely will never happen and don’t matter anyway.  It’s my life that matters.

And that’s where Layla comes in.  More than I ever expected, she is helping me to save myself and my life.

But that’s a big honkin’ subject I’ll write about next time.  Right now it’s very late and I’m going to bed.  ‘Night, all.