Author Unknown (Pt. 4)

July 12, 2020

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Promoting yourself made you as many enemies as fans. Haters relentlessly trolled you online calling you untalented, vainglorious or worse. Colleagues wondered if you were paying more attention to your novels than your job. Your wife thought you were chasing windmills. To some extent they all were right. But the genie was out of the bottle; you simply had to keep trying. Something would click. You would have the last laugh.

One morning, you saw a complete stranger reading your novel on the “El” in Chicago. Small sample, but no less thrilling, it was all you could do to keep from introducing yourself to the reader. In terms of validation this rare sighting would have to do.

Much later, your daughter’s high school art teacher read two of your novels, one after the other. During that relatively long period of time, he had constantly told her how good they were. Your daughter respected her teacher and by him praising your work you knew she respected you. Any glimmer of awe she had towards you was significant. Especially given how you’d fallen from her pedestal. This would have to do.

The accolades you received for copywriting, the wealth it provided, ego trips. For many, that would have done quite nicely. For you it wasn’t enough. Like Icarus you’d reached sublime heights, until your wings got clipped and you fell to earth.

In the end as in the beginning, a writer writes. Writing for its own sake, without the obsession for income or outcome. A writer writes. This, too, will have to do.

(If you’re interested in any of my books please click on the links right side of this blog. Thank you!)

Author Unknown (3)

July 8, 2020

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Oh, but how you want to be known for something! Even for just one book. One story. Being published is a fantasy as powerful as any opiate, more so because of your tireless effort. Each book was an obsession, like Captain Ahab’s Great White Whale, Ernest Shackleton’s quest to find the arctic passage, compelling you forward, driving you insane. You forsook everything to write –parties, movies, dinners with your wife, talking and fucking. _______ vacillated between resignation and resentment, jealous of your ardor for writing, how you cherished the craft more than her. It would pay off, you told her, you told yourself. When you became a known commodity.

You came so close…

The meetings in Hollywood were electric, with so many important people giving a shit about you and your work. Even so, the pinnacle eluded you. For your first book you settled with a dozen mostly positive reviews on Amazon and a $7,500 dollar option from Touchstone Pictures that went nowhere. Your second and third novels had equally mixed results. None were failures. But none were great successes, at least in terms of the marketplace.

Self-publishing demanded you do your own marketing and publicity. Being an ad man you took this on with gusto. For The Last Generation, you produced a teaser video, which can still be found on You Tube. You created billboards and posters for The Happy Soul Industry. For Sweet By Design you hosted an online book cover contest, giving away an iPad to the winner. Each book had its own website, Facebook and Twitter. You wrote press releases. You wrote more queries, this time looking for options, reviewers and always a legitimate publisher. Above all, you wrote checks. Lots of checks. Some days it felt like buying lottery tickets. Other times you were pissing in the wind. But you paid. You would always bet on yourself.

To be continued…

(If you’re interested in any of my books please click on the links right side of this blog!)

Author Unknown (2)

July 5, 2020

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Pencils down.

Eventually, you had to call each book finished, regardless of blemishes. But you were not done working… and writing. Not by a long shot. One required representation, an agent. In order to get one you had to find one. There are many journals and websites devoted to these people. You must start at the beginning, with “A.” It is like reading a phone book. Other than a famous few, one cannot tell the crackpots (bored housewives, failed authors, drunkards) from the magicians, the one who will be your champion. After curating a list of too many names, you then wrote each a personalized query letter, including synopsis and biography. Unless it was perfect, this may be the only thing you write that your prospect ever reads. Most replied via form letter or a quick scribble: Not for me. Thank you! You used to save these rejections. When it became morbid you threw the entire stack in the trash. The few agents that expressed interest always had “notes.” One suggested you rewrite a certain character. Another wanted a new ending. And so on. Saying no wasn’t an option for an unknown commodity. So you rewrote the character, with all that that entailed. You created a different ending, not sure if you even liked it or, moreover, if your patron would let alone a reader. In the end, you were rejected anyway.

Multiply this by three novels, two screenplays and dozens of short stories. Then divide it by a wife and three children. Subtract it from your real job, the one that is paying you.

This was your life. This is your life. Author unknown.

To be continued…

(If interested in any of my books please click on the links right side of this blog!)

 

Author Unknown

July 2, 2020

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You’ve written three novels. After years of toil, most of it pleasurable (an apt definition of writing), enduring countless maybes, the quite interested and even an option from Hollywood, you ended up self-publishing. Not the happy ending you envisioned, with heady book tours and glowing reviews on myriad websites. But parking your books on the computer like an old tax return? No fucking way.

“Years of effort” is actually an understatement. You’d spent decades on these novels. High art or not you knew they were high concept. Your first, The Last Generation imagined a world bereft of children, slowly dying out. Yet, and this was the kicker, nothing else was wrong. For the remaining shrinking population, life simply went on. What does this last generation do with itself? Your marketing line: It’s not the end of the world, just the end of us.

Your second novel is a modern fable about God and advertising, The Happy Soul Industry. In it, God, frustrated by a world lacking belief, puts an angel on earth to find an ad agency in order to market spirituality. In the third act all hell breaks loose.

Your third story, Sweet By Design is a romantic comedy (!) about a disillusioned gay man and an aging female socialite, brought together on an improbable road trip. This one you wrote to prove you could be whimsical and, being honest here, entirely commercial. Whatever your motivations and inspirations, you never worked harder in your life than on these three books. In doing so, you developed a keen appreciation for even the shoddiest novels at the airport bookstand. Readers who weren’t writers would never comprehend, couldn’t possibly, the effort required to scribe 300 pages of anything. Thinking. Rethinking. Writing. Rewriting. Losing weeks of content. Fighting demons. Overcoming doubt. And then, when you honestly thought it was finally done, the painful discovery of a typo on the very first page, then another and another, a repeated paragraph – How did that happen? How many more things were wrong?

To be continued…

(If interested in any of these books please click on the links right side of this blog!)

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Given everything going on in the world, I cannot phantom how and why these cruel and offensive names still exist. Yet, they do. I wrote the first version of this post in 2014! Unbelievable it is even more relevant now…

The righteous drum continues to beat louder, calling for the termination of the Washington Redskins nickname, which got a huge assist when the United States Patent Office rescinded trademark rights for the moniker, deeming it offensive to Native Americans. Recently, the above commercial ran during the NBA playoffs.

The name is offensive. Period.

Anyone who believes otherwise, consider if the Redskins played a game against a team called the Seattle Slant Eyes or Miami Wetbacks. Why we took so long coming to this painfully obvious conclusion is the only issue worth debating.

Perhaps the biggest grotesque is that Washington DC is literally where, once upon a time, the orders were given to marginalize, if not wipe out, Native Americans. Naming one’s biggest sporting franchise after a people our forefathers nearly crushed out of existence is sick.

And yet the team’s owner, Dan Snyder is steadfast in fighting the injunction and any other measures demanding the team change its name. Claiming the term Redskins is a “badge of honor,” Snyder is not backing down.

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Dan, here’s an idea for a name.

I know the bar stool defense. Old timers rail at political correctness. They bellow: Where does it end? The Fighting Irish? Chief Wahoo? Maybe those do go away. So what? The University of Illinois got rid of their mascot, Chief Illiniwek in 2007, deeming it “hostile and abusive.” The games are still packed with fans. Life went on.

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Chief Wahoo. Ouch.

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Piss off!

Not long ago, Jacksonville named their NFL team the Jaguars –an animal that is all but extinct in Florida. I think that’s kind of gross. Yet, I hadn’t thought about it until now. Maybe they don’t change the name but a dollar for every ticket goes to helping this endangered animal? New thinking comes from new ideas, even bad ones. New ideas rile people up. And that’s good.

But let’s get off the soapbox and into the boardroom.

Snyder is a businessman. Does he not see the huge financial upside in making a name change? All new jerseys symbolizing doing the right thing: like those wouldn’t sell. Please. As for all that old merch it would immediately become collectible. Moreover, can he not picture the marketing potential such a move would engender? Social media was made for an “event” like this. Fans could be solicited to help create a new moniker, or vote on one. Even if the selection process were contentious the freaking proverbial “conversation” would be radioactive.

I know a thing or two about popular culture and the influence young people have on it. New fans are not beholden to tradition, even when they should be. You can’t tell me the multitudes of young people, who voted for a black president (twice) and adore and follow the multicultural mainstream wouldn’t embrace a new look Washington football team.

Look around you, Mr. Snyder. Athletes are coming out of the closet. Pot is legal. More and more so is gay marriage. The world is moving on. Evolving. Adaptation is sound strategy. Making a name change transcends political correctness; it’s just good business.