Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Solstice and Rainy day visions

Yesterday I received yet another rejection letter from a major agent's assistant. This one stung more than most, because after 5 years of pounding the pavement then deciding I would just jump into the self-pub world I had been highly recommended to this agent by another major agent who liked my stories but doesn't represent thrillers. Between the rejection, a day of grey cold Alaskan rain and a little league baseball game where all the kids were acting like a bunch of kittens on meth, I was tired and in a pretty bummed mood by night fall, which never really fell because it is solstice which in Alaska means 24 hours of the brightest sunlight of the year except with the clouds it was as I said earlier cold and grey sunlight. I lay in my bed unable to sleep, wondering if I should just toss in the towel, admit defeat and shelve the book I'm nearly done with, my fourth by the way. I couldn't say this aloud, because my uber supportive wife would be devastated, she has every inclination that I will succeed, much more than I do most days.

  I was beating myself up for not paying more attention in High School or College English classes which at the time I had no idea I'd need, since I was going to be a Marine Corps Infantry Officer and probably Commandant one day. Then I beat myself up for getting injured in said Marines and sent home before I even made Lance Corporal. Then the pummeling continued for having given up on my way back dream of owning a restaurant, failing at the computer business I did actually own, failure at farming, the skiing injury that makes serious exercise nearly impossible most days, and now being stuck in the perfect limbo job with a decent but not spectacular salary and no where to go unless I want to move 2000 miles away, and...well...you can see where this is going.

  Curled beneath my blanket next to my wife, her soft breaths coming like whispered pleas to pull out of my misery, I lay blaming myself for every failure under the sun, even reaching the point where I started to wonder if that six degrees of separation thing meant that I was responsible for the global recession and the mess in Libya and Middle East (I am sure the President would love it to be so). As I lay there feeling sorry for myself a phrase ran through my mind.

"It rained. It rained the day world caught fire, but the fire didn't go out."

  The phrase wouldn't go away. It came with images too, images of a man running, of frightened children changing in the face of danger, of war, of a world collapsing into a new dark ages, and of course rain. I had hoped these images would go away, but they didn't. When, after less than four hours of fitful sleep, I crawled back through the veil into consciousness the images were waiting for me, stark and vivid, nakedly accusing me of trying to abandon them.

  There are two things this imagery means in my opinion, the one I am going to go with is that this is the groundwork for my next novel, and that I need to follow it and see where it leads even though it is not the book I had been planning to start next, although that one has a bit of rain in it too. I am going to run with the idea that it's a book, because the alternative is to consider it a vision of the future...and I just don't want to go there.
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1 comment:

  1. It's not a vision of the future. Run with it. Keep writing. You're far too talented to stop. I've been exactly where you are and there's no way around how much it sucks. What I do know for a fact is that you're far too good a writer to give up. Your agent is out there, you just haven't found him/her yet.

    BTW, the "referral" rejections are the absolute worst. I had a few of those. Quite devastating.

    I'll never forget one time a superagent who LOVED my book referred me to an agent she thought was more appropriate for my work and would love it. The guy reads it and THEN he tells me he doesn't take on any work that has any sexual assault or references thereto in it. Would have been nice to know that when superagent referred me to him! (I've posted extensively about agents/rejection on my blog).

    In closing I'd like to say that I have the whole beating myself up for a string of "failures" which I prefer to think of as learning experiences: why didn't I get my PhD in English and become a professor? Why didn't I go to law school? Why didn't I go to nursing school? Why did I do nothing meaningful with my graduate degree? Why did I quit student teaching 2 weeks into my practicum? Why didn't I go through with it and teach school? I think it is because as writers we aren't meant to do any of those things--half our heart and drive is always devoted to writing so we can never truly do anything else wholeheartedly. At least that's my experience. I have a day job that I love, I make enough to survive. I could do so much more but I don't want to work 18 hours a day. I want time in my day to write. I'm not giving up my death grip on this dream and you shouldn't either.