They say that the wages of sin is death. But after taxes its just a tired feeling – Woody Allen
So today I’m making a couple small confessions.
The first one is a little embarrassing because what I have to admit is that… (pause to clear throat)… I LOVE GHOST STORIES SO MUCH AND I REALLY WANT TO GO GHOSTHUNTING!
There, I said it. But before you dismiss me as a flake and nut job I have to tell you that I just found out how bestselling, serious literary writer Jodi Picoult has done some serious ghosthunting. In fact, she’s been one of the Ghosthunters with those two guys on the sci fi channel show. She just hasn’t done any of the hunting on camera, but she thanks them in the acknowledgments of one of her novels, and I read about her ghosthunting adventures in the book Seeking Spirits, which the two guys wrote. So there! My ghostly urge has got literary creds!
Anyway, in Seeking Spirits the guys write that sometimes a ghost (or soul or spirit or energy or whatever you want to call it) might be hanging around because of unfinished business. This is also what I’ve heard from my Irish mother and a sprinkling of my gobs of Irish relatives. “Never leave unfinished business on this earth or you’ll have to come back to finish it,” they warn. A variation of this is not fulfilling a promise or not doing the good deed you should’ve done. Then they finish with a story (and the Irish are masters at storytelling) that they swear is true and that can make the hair on the back of your neck stand up. I LOVE that tingling excitement!
Anyway, all this stuff about ghosts floating around and bothering people because of unfinished business such as say, dead writers wailing like banshees over how they never got their novels published, leads me to my second confession, which is…
I’m hurrying up and self-publishing my novels because I just want those blasted, glorious, imperfect, pain-in-the-butt offspring of my imagination in print before I die. If a publisher ends up liking them and wants to publish them too, fine. Meanwhile, these babies are turning into real books while I’m still this side of the grave.
Sounds kinda morbid, doesn’t it? But it’s the truth. I mean, a few years ago one of my cousins dropped dead of a sudden massive heart attack. He was in his 50s. Another cousin died very young from cancer. Car accidents happen. Shit happens. I myself have no illusions of being immortal. Meanwhile my unpublished novels are sitting in a computer and in manuscripts on my desk.
For whatever macabre reason I have long borne in mind the fate of John Kennedy Toole (note the Irish name). He tried to get his novel A Confederacy of Dunces published but it was rejected. The poor guy gave up the ghost and killed himself, whereupon his mother took up his cause and endured SEVEN YEARS of rejections from publishers. Then she showed it to legendary American writer Walker Percy, who fell in love with it and got it published by a small university press.
A Confederacy of Dunces became a bestseller and won the Pulitzer.
And you just know that poor Toole was floating ghost-like around that Pulitzer award and mounting royalties and glowing reviews and saying, “Oh, crap!”
So there you have it. A morbid Irish fatalism is one of the reasons I’m publishing my novels myself. And believe it or not, my decision has given me some peace of mind.