Don’t Scare the Elephants

painted elephant

The author is coming!

Here at Ye Olde Literarie Blogge, we sometimes regale ye with tales both sad and true, and sometimes they are the same tale. Here we carry stories of wordsmithing, story crafting, and publication supplicating.

As I sit here composing, I picture you there in your pajamas, if you’re wearing pajamas, but you don’t need to tell me that, and I picture you reading a blog about words and the writing life, saying to yourself, “So this is what it’s like to be a writer, living a life of imagination, spending the days in creative fabrication. Thank God I don’t live like that.”

I can’t say you’re wrong. But here in my house, fate says that writing is going to happen. Not so long ago someone asked me if I write for pleasure. My answer, to their surprise, was no, I do not write for pleasure. Almost every time I sit down to write, I’m not there because I’m having fun. I write because I’m compelled to write, and as to why that is—well, life is filled with mysteries.

Not that writing isn’t sometimes a pleasure, regardless, but that’s not the reason I do it. Anyway, let us update the tales of this magnificent life drunk on vowels and consonants and handfuls of punctuation. Back last fall, I went to a writers’ conference and talked with a literary agent who told me to send a few pages and she’d look at them. I think I mentioned here in ye olde blogge that in this brutal publishing business, that’s considered a triumph (seriously, I’m not making that up—if an agent says “send me a few pages” other writers will actually congratulate you).

To shorten a longer story, I heard from the agent this week, and she wrote, “There’s a lot of potential in the story of a father and daughter reconnecting through fantastical shared experiences, and you write very well. Your witty, contemplative prose kept me reading—” Oh, my, doesn’t that sound good! And the sentence went on to end: “even after the pacing of the plot had slowed.”

Wait. What? Followed by “Unfortunately, that pacing is a problem…” You get the idea. She said no. I knew she liked the idea for the book, and she liked my ability to write, so…why not work with me then? Maybe I could fix the pacing. Maybe I could take out all the pronouns. Maybe I could get her a nice mocha latte. Maybe I could walk her dog.

Alright, we move on. Perhaps eventually, when I have more time [sardonic laugh goes here] I’ll work on the pacing for that novel and ask if she’s willing to consider it again. Generally the agents tell you that even if you revise, no, they will not consider it again. But if you do ask, they’re not going to come to your house and slap you and say, “What did I tell you, damn it? I won’t look at this again!”

The trick in being a serious writer walking through the wilderness is perseverance, to keep writing, keep working. As perseverance-type news, I’m now three chapters from the end of finishing the next novel. I’m happy with how it’s going, though I do become paranoid about the pacing, the plot, how it might catch the reader at the beginning. Agents seem to care a lot about having an opening with the emotional impact of having sex with aliens during a car chase while high on LSD. Or something. Apparently I don’t know exactly.

I also move slowly forward with the upcoming short story collection (I’d Tear Down the Stars, in case you forgot the title). This week I got the final copy of the book cover, and I’m quite happy with it. For this book, a few weeks ago, I also hired a publicist, and he has been engaged in various activities, which I’ll talk about as they come up. For one thing, I’ve started a Goodreads author page, and I’m hoping we’ll add a video there before too long. He has also created a Facebook author page for me.

At my publicist’s suggestion, we’re holding the short-story collection to release it in October, in order to do preparatory things. Like, I don’t know, paint the elephants. I mean, obviously, the elephants need to be painted. And the exotic dancers have to be trained not to scare the children.

Don’t need any crying children while I’m perched up on an elephant. It spooks me to be up there as it is.

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Filed under Secret Agent, Writing While Living

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