Tag Archives: being a writer

The Moaning Writer

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I am not Charles Dickens.  I wish I were.  I want to be a writer of wry humor, social commentary, and have an effect on the soul of the world I live in.  The way he was.  Heck, Dickens invented Christmas the way we do it now (with considerable help from department stores like Macy’s) by writing A Christmas Carol.  But the chances for that are growing ever dimmer.

The small publisher with which I was associated, and who gave me a contract to publish Snow Babies, has died.  The business folded while my novel was still in the editorial phase.  PDMI Publishing was a worthy group of writers and entrepreneurs who in a different time might’ve gone far.  I know by reading some of their works that they had talent.  But between the ferocious grip of the mega publishers and the waves upon waves of self-published stuff on Amazon, real writers with talent are drowning in a sea of mediocrity and media indifference.  Writers who succeed are the ones with the most luck or the most direct connections to the gate keepers.  Profit is far more important than literary merit.  You don’t really have to have talent any more.  You don’t have to know what a split infinitive is or how to compose a compound sentence properly or how to spell.  Shoot, you barely have to know how to write.  Just write about sparkly teenage vampires falling in love with high school girls or sexual perverts who are into torture devices, and you can be a millionaire… if you can somehow luck out over the millions of wannabes writing the same exact crap.

There was a time when writing teachers and published authors were telling me that sooner or later good writing gets published.  It was supposed to be inevitable.  But that was a different time than now.  Different rules for the game.  I will have two published books with two different publishers.  I-Universe published Catch a Falling Star.  And Page Publishing will publish Magical Miss Morgan.  But I paid both of those publishers to turn my books into published paper books with ISBN numbers and access to customers of Barnes and Noble and other outlets.  But I don’t expect to earn the money back that I invested.  Not while I’m still alive at least.

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My I-Universe publishing experience was worth it.  I spent a lot of money to get Catch a Falling Star published, but I got to work with real editors and advisers who had experience working for Knopf and Random House.  They gave me a real evaluation of my work and taught me how the business of promoting the book was supposed to work.  And the help that they gave me ended there.  No advertising budget beyond what I could afford myself.  I learned a lot for my money.  But I had to come to terms with the fact that marketing was going to take more time and effort than I was physically capable of doing.  I have six incurable diseases and am a cancer survivor after all.

Page Publishing was a mistake.  They were cheaper than I-Universe, but I am not getting anywhere near the value for my money.  Instead of real editors reading and suggesting and modifying my work, I get nit-picky grammar Nazis who don’t even know as much about grammar as I do.  They are only copy editing.  And the last rewrite was me spending time changing all the incorrect changes they made back to the original text.  They did not even tell me the name of the editor making the changes.  I talked to the I-Universe editors over the phone and discussed changes in detail.  Page gives me email copies to read over and fume about silently.  They are no better than the vanity presses of old who were really no more than a re-typing and printing service.

So, from here on, I will only do the self-publishing options available through Amazon.  I have no more money or energy to spend on the black hole of literary dreams.

I can’t help but be a writer, though.  That part is genetic.  I will continue to write and tell stories that I need to tell.  I can’t help it.  Not to do so will cause me to shrivel and die almost instantly.  And I am only exaggerating just a little bit.  Well, maybe a lot.  But it is still true.

Whatever promises the future holds, I am not depending on them for my feelings of success, closure, and self-worth.  The world as I have come to know it will always be a ridiculous stew-pot of ideas and ego and cow poop, and I am not so much giving up as stepping out of the stew.  I wish to tell stories for the story’s sake.  I have no delusions of becoming as wealthy as Stephen King or J.K. Rowling.  I will never be Charles Dickens.  And I am okay with that.

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Filed under commentary, feeling sorry for myself, humor, insight, publishing, self pity, the road ahead, work in progress, writing

An Autobiography of Mickey

 

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Last night I watched again Part I of Ken Burns’ Mark Twain.   I think it reminds me of who I am as a writer.  No, I am not being all big-head arrogant and full of myself.  I devoured certain writers as a youth, consumed them whole.  Charles Dickens was my first passion, followed by J.R.R. Tolkien, and then Mark Twain.  Of all of them, Samuel Clemens is the most like me.  He was from the Midwest, born and raised in Missouri along the Mississippi River.  I am from the Midwest, born and raised in Iowa along the Iowa River.  He endured hardship and tragedy as a youth, losing his little brother in a riverboat accident, and he dealt with it by humor.  I endured a sexual assault from an older boy, and dealt with it by… well, you get the picture.  We are alike, him and I.  We both draw upon the place we grew up, the people we have known, and the events of our youth to create stories.

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It is a pretty big responsibility to follow in his footsteps, and I will probably never live to see the success and the wealth that came to him.  But I have a responsibility to the people I knew and the time that gave rise to me to tell their story.  I need to build a network of stories that resonate the truth of existence that I have been witness to.  A big responsibility… and I probably will not live up to it.  But I have to try.

Being a writer is somewhat like being cursed.  The words burn inside, needing to get out, needing to be heard.   I have stories that need to be told, and they will be told, even if only to file away in the closet again.  Like Mark Twain, I am good at feeling sorry for myself.  And the Mickey part of me, the writer part of me, is just like Mark Twain, a writer persona, and not the real man himself.  I am simply the container for something that has to exist and has to tell stories.  It is not a bad thing to be.  But the more I get to know it, the more I would not wish the destiny on others.

Forgive how sad and bunglingly boorish this post is.  But sometimes there are thoughts I simply have to think.  And as a writer, I am bound to write down the silly things that I think.

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Filed under autobiography, humor, Paffooney, Uncategorized

Putting My House in Order

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If you don’t remember, this is what my bedroom looked like when I first rubbed the magic lamp and wished for clean from Clean Gene the Cleaning Genii.  Since that post in which my bedroom/writer’s nook (sickbed, deathbed, whatever…) looked like the picture above, the Genii has been stooping with a bad back, picking up papers and books and arcane detritus from the writer’s life of a messy, messy writer and artist.  Did I mention he was messy?  Did I mention he has arthritis, hypertension, diabetes, COPD, and two other incurable diseases?  Did I mention he is having surgery on Tuesday?  Did I say he was messy?  Oops… too much repetitive redundancy being repeatedly repeated.  (Purple Paisley Prose Paragraphs are like that.)

Did you figure out that he is me?  I say all of this incredibly boring and inane stuff because it gives context to the miracle.  Clean Gene granted at least part of the wish.  It may not look it, but now the mess is organized.

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You will notice that things that may be needed in the middle of the night are now accessible.   And the room now actually has a floor again!  Oh, and the dolls are not needed for the middle of the night… at least, not that I actively remember (or am willing to admit.)

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In this view you can see more of my organized tornado aftermath.  Under the books and Barbies in process of being repaired you see what used to be my drawing table, and is now more like a book case with attached tiny area for drawing.  My daughter the Princess put the stickers all over the drawer on my 100-year-old-plus dresser when she was two, and I have never had the heart to take them off no matter what they do to its value as an antique.  (It honestly has no value.  Antique is just another word for very, very old.)  And those are not dolls standing around in semi-action poses.  Those are ACTION FIGURES!

20150319_130953And finally, this is my work space and writing area where I am currently writing this mundane little post about something that is more about nothing than anything Seinfeld ever came up with.  Yes, I am a writer and an artist.  Am I a professional?  That is harder to say.  I was paid for many years to teach writing as a public school English teacher.  I currently am proofreading for a couple of professionals who are not writers but have to do it as a part of their jobs in health care.  I am getting paid for that.  I made at least thirty dollars for writing novels for three different publishers.  I have had drawings published before in books and comic books, but nobody ever gave me a nickel for that… those were voluntary and contests I didn’t win.  They did help other people make money, though.  Maybe, now that I am retired as a teacher, I am justified in claiming that I am even though I don’t make the big bucks people assume I do when I tell them that little white lie.  (If you thought that last paragraph was mainly about passing 500 words, you would be right.)

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Filed under cleaning genii, humor, photo paffoonies