Friday, April 01, 2011

Part 2 of Post MFA Coma

Be sure to read part one. Click here.

February 13
36 days since graduation
Somewhere alone

Creeping realization over the days since graduation…It’s something to the effect of…you’re not that special/important/great…Something I felt while reading Revolutionary Road recently and then when watching Never Say Never the Justin Beieber movie (Don’t laugh. Good flick).

I’m 35 and maybe it’s time to stop playing with the garage band, hoping that someone will notice my unbelievable talent and whisk me off to Hollywood. I mean why have I thought all these years that I was something special? That one day someone would get IT and get ME and realize that the work I do, my writing, is important and needs to be out there? See, with Chris Paolini and Justin Beiber…they had this unbelievable gift that simply needed the space to be seen, and once it was–forget it!  (Paolini started out self published and Bieber was a YouTube success.) I had some victory with my first book I self published. But it DIDN’T take off. NOTHING happened. Doesn’t that say something? I tried another approach…Did it again with a tighter edit and better cover art…but…Nothing at all. Awards the second time. The third time, an even better edit, and still not even an award. Actually with each book I self published, the worse the sales were and less happened.

So tried school. Write the best thing you can…Focus only on writing and forget everything else. Then, surprise, mentor says this stuff is fabulous! Submit…Get three agents to say yes want to read more…But then they all say no.

That didn’t work.

Back all the way back to square one with NOTHING to show for it except three books no one reads. So what do I do? I still don’t give up. I continue to not only submit to agents but also to write another book despite the fact that inside myself I think things like, Really? Come on! What the fuck is happening here? Nothing you do produces what you want.  I mean, I really did let go and listen to my mentor and write my very best without thinking about publishing and only when it was done did I put that hat on, and then I did everything I could and still am and it’s not doing shit.

But really what’s happened now is I’m only continuing and persevering because I am afraid of what happens if I stop…If I stop writing and submitting I seriously think that I won’t go back and not only that, I will fall very far into a pit of sadness because I write to live and I write to feel. I write to express. I write because it’s my cello, my violin, my long run outside, my special thing that’s mine and mine alone. I write to create with the tools that feel the best in my hands and against my fingers. And yet my writing has gotten worse since graduation and my ability to express myself clearly in writing has gotten worse.

It’s not like I didn’t have hope before. I did. I believed in my heart and soul in what my mentor said…that this is a marathon and not a sprint. That it’s a matter of when not if. That it’s like dating, you have to find a match.

February 15, 2011
Starbucks alone

So…over the last few days something has shifted, and I’m coming out the fog that the rejections two weeks ago put me in. Today, I ran into a former student of mine who is also a mom with kids and a former teacher. Long story short–she went ahead and got an agent for the book she had started in my class about four years ago. She and the agent have since parted ways because it wasn’t happening, and now she is pursuing self publishing…but mainly because, as she says, she wants the people she loves and cares about to read it. I guess seeing her kind of fueled the little engine inside of me. The engine inside is like, “Don’t keep me idle. I’m your power source of perseverance and tenacity and chutzpah.”  The part of me that seven years ago said what this woman said to me today, and as we talked and I told her where I was with everything…I realized as the words were coming out that I once had a little flame of happiness inside that nothing really touched. In other words, the little flame or fire or whatever was what gave me the energy to self publish MSW–it didn’t seem to be affected by the so- called lack of success of the book getting picked up by the mainstream and even the subsequent books I self published. But I realized WHY…Because my original intention was simply to share my work with one or two or ten people and the rest that happened was a surprise and it caught me and I got caught up. I got caught up in the agents contacting me, the winning of the awards, the media attention, everything. So then I raised the bar and continued to raise it and when I didn’t meet it….I was crushed. That’s what sent me off to school. I was so heart broken and just wanted to heal by leaving the whole industry side of things and going back to writing.

And now…here I am…pretty fragile. I forayed back out there…and, of course, the rejections were like head trauma to me. The flicker of hope that those three agents brought to me…and then how fragile fire really is when a simple blow of rejection sweeps in and tamps it out.

I’ve been silent through the journey since November.  I feel like it’s like trying to get pregnant and that’s why I haven’t blogged about it. What if I’m not successful in my attempts? Really all the anger I have been feeling since the rejections... underneath it are some major fears. My vulnerability and my unending faith in–I don’t know–maybe, myself….I’m afraid of how fragile those things are.

And then March came in like a lion....Stay tuned for tomorrow, Part 3.

1 comment:

Joanne Carnevale said...

I've missed these blogs . . . so glad you're back! You've done everything right and the fault lies with the agents and editors. Keep that flame burning. I still want to read all the short stories you wrote during the MFA years. What about a collection of those? Individual submissions? Again, just sayin' . . .