Be that as it may, I’m going to jump into blog twenty-one’s first order of bloggy business. Which is to belatedly congratulate Mona Anderson. She is a Cape Breton author, whose short story entry in the Atlantic Writing Competition 2013 made the finals. The contest was sponsored by the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia.
You can learn more about Mona Anderson by going to her web page: www.monaaanderson.com.
Thus sayeth I.
Why, I wonder? Probably lots of reasons, but I would think insecurity is a big one.
You see, most writers have to climb these massive rejection slip mountains. These hulks don’t usually erode like normal mountains, but instead get taller as the publishing world’s Wizards of Oz add one rejection slip on top of the other. I can’t even count the number of times or ways that I have been told my submission wasn’t up to snuff. Have you been told today?
Heck, last year I made the long list on CBC. Not the short list but a longer one which you would think is better, but in the writing world the shorter the list you are on the better off you are.
Did my position on the long list stop the friggen turn-down deities from rejecting this story? No friggen way.
“Dear Larry, we liked the story but UNFORTUNATELY…” --stop right there. One of the big bad words. Editors who use that word should wash their mouths out with dish soap. But I digress, so I will move on. “UNFORTUNATELY the story isn’t right for our whatever.”
Anyway, the other rejection letter regarding this piece went on to say, “… UNFORTUNATELY, the beginning is too long.” Obviously they didn’t enjoy reading a little historical background which might give the story some grounding and context. No, just hashtag, bang bang, zam, done.
And consider some of the calls for submissions. They make it sound like you have to sell your mother to the Al Quaida before they’ll accept a story.
Kameron noted, on her blog: "It was terribly fun to write up... lots of these are based on rejections of now-famous books."
Take a look at the author's site where the game is posted: A.R.Yngve's "Notes Toward Becoming A Better Writer" . A.R.Yngve is a Swedish writer/artist, author of short fiction, novels and comic strips. His website is worth visiting.
For another hilarious take on rejection letters, take a look at Scott Edelman's blog: http://www.scottedelman.com/tag/rejection-slips/
Still, every once in a while, a story makes it into the port without being sunk. Then it’s time to celebrate. I’m not bitter. And I also genuinely admire and am happy for those who make it past the shore guns. So I say congratulations to writers the likes of Mona Anderson.
But I think there might be, in my case, more to it. Maybe there’s some sort of angry literary wolf inside me that doesn’t want to step out of the forest into the marketing, mini-mall maelstrom. To twist himself four ways to Sunday. Who wants to avoid the fanfare and noise of the internet with all its options.
I sometimes feel a sort of desperation knowing that there are so many resources and that if only I used more of them, my writing might be better recognized. Whew! I could turn myself into butter if I followed this line of logic. I suppose a writer could get terribly compulsive and then would he or she write much? Would what they write be any good?
And as a writer, am I a nobody writer if few are reading my stories? Am I a somebody writer if many are reading my stories? How does a writer get to feel himself to be an authentic, somebody author?
So, I prefer soft marketing. A conversation, an email to a friend, a happenstance encounter, patience - the organic approach. Which to me seems more honest, gentle and universal. Also, maybe more hallowed and a better fit with the spiritual and creative world I’m trying to work within and am being helped by.
Here’s a koan for you.
“If you blot out sense and the internet - what do you hear?”
A flag begins to smack. The wings
unfold around the spoils. This proud journey!
where the albatross ages to a cloud---
A friend of mine made a big decision. He decided to come to Cape Breton. It wasn’t an easy decision for him.
I haven’t seen a moose in a moose age and yet, while he was staying with us, I spotted a moose standing not far from the trailer window. My friend slept on the couch by the window.
And, on our way home from checking out the Eskasoni High School, where I was to give four workshops a few days later, a fox ran across the road in front of us. In his mouth was an animal with a long tail, and before he scurried into a roadside ditch, he stopped and gave us a good three-seconds stare. This fascinated my friend and he is still excited about the encounter. Did it mean something? Or was it just a fox acting like a fox?
Was it a creative encounter? Was this sighting a koan being offered to my friend or to me that might be solved at some point? Is soft marketing such a bad way to do things? Is there noise underneath the noise we all hear? Gosh, I could go right whacko on this koan thing and I do find my envy thing a bit of a koan.
they will talk with you
and you will know each other.
If you do not talk to them,
you will not know them,
And what you do not know
you will fear.
What one fears, one destroys
-Chief Dan George
As you know, being in the forest by yourself can be a little disconcerting. Especially if you listen to all the big bad wolf, coyote, bear, moose or wild this and that stories.
However, when I’m hiking alone, I hear the birds singing in the trees. And I can distinguish the songs of the Evening Grosbeaks. I’m confident that those songs are being performed by the Grosbeaks who were gorging themselves all winter at our bird feeders. I’ve noticed that grosbeaks have a habit of settling down on our bird feeders’ ledges and eating and eating and pooping and pooping. All occurring in a spray of sunflower seed shells.
Anyway, it makes me feel less lonely when I have these bird friends accompanying me in the forest.
So, I was looking at the river and I was thinking that it’s kind of like a long fluid conveyor belt which has all these tiny egg-timers curled up in her whirling, swirling surface. Drip, drip, drip. Each egg-timer has a name on it. At some point our very own personal egg-timer will empty and the goddess of the waters will tell the river that our property’s time is up. Then the river will email the ocean and tell him to expect a partially green industrial trailer to arrive in the next big storm. Then the rains will pour down and our grassy walls will be breached. We will be sailing, sailing, to the mighty sea.
So, I tell people that the river holds our mortgage and there is an expiration date in there somewhere. But not in the papers that the lawyer drew up for us.
So, we’re back to another koan. What can we control, if control is only a silent myth?
He kindly stopped for me-
The carriage held but just ourselves-