“Legacy’s Excruciating Embrace”

So picking up from where I left off (which was my post of Oct. 24th), what does a girl (that would be me) with a historical/commercial novel titled The Angry Woman Suite, a brilliant Kirkus review re same, and a missing literary agent do next?

Note: Not that my agent making a career switch was a bad thing—for her. It actually made perfect sense, considering the sucky precariousness of traditional publishing these days. The better question might’ve been, “What? Are you still here?”

Um, before she wasn’t, that is.

To keep the record straight, my agent was a nice person who totally went to bat for The Angry Woman Suite—and I wish her every success in her new career choice.

Okay, now back to me. *smile*

I left off (my last post) talking about “Josh,” the potty-mouthed non-fiction writer who told me in so many unprintable words to get my butt in gear and go digital and promote my novel via social media (at which point I went cold with fear; it’s that word promote). 

But I’d bought myself some time, I thought (so I wouldn’t have to make decisions/take a plunge/move ahead/whatever; all that hard stuff), by taking The Angry Woman Suite to Kirkus Reviews. I told Josh that if my review came in even halfway positive, I’d proudly go digital and start a blog and buy our next lunch together.  

Seemed a safe enough thing to say.

Oh, but there’s this thing about “safe” I’m not too crazy about. 

Safe is boring. 

More than that, safe is probably not what life’s supposed to be about (and I’m not talking the kind of safe from something truly dangerous). I’m talking the comfort zone kind of “safe,” where we hide, get lazy, or give up. Where we don’t apply ourselves, or test ourselves, and we make excuses for why we didn’t follow through on something we’ve told ourselves and the world we really want. “No time” is the #1 excuse, followed by “I don’t know where to start.”

I often wonder: Is that what we want to be thinking at the end of life; that we had no time? Serious? Or that we didn’t know where to start living? Really?

But if we’re still here, we have time. 

So, it’s not about “no time.” It’s about choices–about choosing priorities. 

Enough said. I’m nobody’s life coach. Are you kidding? A shy girl?  

But I do know I feel pretty ick about myself when I don’t do something just because I’ve doubted my ability. Which is when I make myself so busy that I get to tell myself I don’t have time to do the thing I’m afraid I might fail at, or that I might look foolish doing. And, no, of course I don’t know I’m rationalizing at the time. I’m very good at justifying myself—until I’m not.

And then it’s a clear call to arms.

So, looking back and moving on: 

Step #1 of The Plan: I’d sent The Angry Woman Suite to Kirkus—and then happily compartmentalized that move, because it was a 4-6 week turnaround. There was nothing more to add to Step #1: it was out of my hands. Next.     

(For those who don’t know, Kirkus Reviews has been around since the 1930’s. As a big-time reader, I’ve always looked for books with a good Kirkus one-liner across the top of a cover, assured I’d get an excellent read—they’ve never let me down.)

Step #2 of The Plan: I started a blog while “forgetting” about the Kirkus review outcome. 

Yep—because of the call to arms thing.

I’d been a blog reader for some time, of writers mostly, and agents, and anything to do with publishing—so blogs weren’t unknown to me. Making one was.  

I met a man I’ll call Tim, who came up with a design for the multi-contributor format I had in mind, for a blog to be titled Rooms of Our Own (inspired by the famous Virginia Woolf quote). The “rooms”—actually, the way Tim put the site together, they are separate blogs within a “web,” so to speak—are occupied by photographer Geri Wilson, and writer Shelley Marquez, and me.        

And what I’d been afraid might be a drag or a flop or a timewaste . . .

. . . has morphed into amazing fun. Yes, it does take time to write blog posts, and sometimes I wonder where I’ll find the time to write anything, in-between a fulltime job and taking care of a very ill husband and a house and writing another book—but when something is challenging in a fun way, how hard is it, really, to make it (instead of, say, dusting) a priority?

Plus, how cool is it to disregard a million and one excuses?  

Very cool (and I hired someone for the dusting, because it’s not fulfilling to me—this is only about me—best money spent, ever) . . . now the surprise:

I’d had a horrible day. (A horrible day for me is when my sick husband has not had a good day.) It was a Sunday, 9 pm, and I was almost too tired to check my email (that’s tired).

But the next day was a work day—I work in the medical field—and I wanted to make sure there were no weekend emergencies to follow up on first thing Monday morning.

There weren’t—but there was an email from Kirkus, with attachment. Oh, crap. No, double crap. I was so not ready; it could wait till tomorrow–it didn’t feel safe.    

That word again. (I’ve come to realize that “not safe” means anything out of my control.)       

Kirkus reviews are always structured the same way: three paragraphs, and the last paragraph is the zinger: the one that says it all. The “summer-upper.” The maker or the breaker.

How much worse could my day get? I thought. Plus, if I opened the attachment, I wouldn’t feel like such a dipwad, being afraid to open my own mail—it would be over and done. I’d start the next day with a clean slate.   

I opened the attachment.

I went straight for the third paragraph.

It read:      

“A superb debut that exposes the consequences of the choices we make and legacy’s sometimes excruciating embrace.”

Yowsa—and, geez, How Very Ironically Appropriate.  

To be continued . . . .

Next up, Part 3 of The Plan: the search for a digital publisher, what all is entailed (a lot)—and a decision.

Thank you so much for coming by; please come back, and comments are very appreciated. I post on Mondays and Thursdays or thereabouts; and sometimes more, but sometimes less.

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Life Is Too Short For Crabby People

A fellow writer told me the other day that she writes fiction in order to make sense of the “un-understandables.” 

I wanted to hug her. Actually, I think I did. Because it’s the way it is for me, too. Writing The Angry Woman Suite was in many ways an attempt to understand a handful of perplexing people who were, or still are, a part of my internal landscape—also people I admire, too, but mostly I write to understand those who get on my last nerve (so I can box them up . . . *smile*. . . is this a little like getting the last word?).  

My list of last nerve characters:

Know-it-all’s—doesn’t the world have enough know-it-all’s yet? Is it really necessary to keep churning them out?  

Bad manners–not just interrupting or slamming doors, but also sneering at another’s lifestyle, mindset, skin color, political leaning, and/or sexual orientation, or anything else you don’t agree with (unless  someone or something is being killed or abused) = seriously bad manners.   

Bores—we all know who they are. The problem is they don’t. 

Mean bores—there’s never a good reason for sheer meanness. But, sigh, there’s never been a really good enough reason for bores, either. They’re like roaches: everywhere and unnecessary.  

Cranks and whiners—a total drain on everybody. We all have challenges. Get over your big bad selves. Feed the poor.   

Mean cranks and whiners—ditto.

Users

But then there are those people who just can’t be pinned down. They’re enticing, private, mysterious, ephemeral. They’re generally the heroes. They’re kind, yet strong. I completely love manufacturing a good hero. The kind who can tell the mean, cranky, whiny know-it-all– the one who slept with a co-worker’s husband–where she can put it, yet in a direct, (but still) totally non-snotty way = winning.