Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Well, I finished my short story collection, at least for now. Next step, I need to write the perfect query letter, come up with a 30 page sample, and find an agent. My wife tells me that the whole process sent me into an emotional tailspin. After I had a draft that I “liked”, I found myself more frustrated than satisfied. While those of us who write never say such things, I think many of us dream that people will see it and immediately tell you how wonderful it is. It does happen once in a while, but the overwhelming tendency of friends, relatives, etc. is, if they happen to read any of it, to tell you every single thing they think is wrong with whatever you’ve written. I’m not sure why that is, but it’s often like there’s some unwritten obligation to not say anything positive.

There were also folk who were nice enough to read the whole thing who simply weren’t all that positive. Often, they had criticisms that made sense at the level of “Why didn’t I think of or see that?” Honestly, that just makes it worse. Bottom line, I spent many years working on something an about five people were willing to read the whole thing. Two actually liked it and everyone else essentially dismissed it as unpublishable or not interesting. I think the thing that was harder yet, was how indifferent so many people were as in "What have you been up to lately?" "I just finished my short story collection that I've been working on for years." No response whatsoever. No "hey good luck" No "Gee I'd like to read it some time". No "what's it about?" Instead, it was lots of "Oh someone just knocked on the door, I'll have to talk to you later." My take is that if people who know and like you aren't interested...

Given that, does it really make sense to go look for an agent? Even harder, it felt like the overwhelming message was that I had wasted my time. Instead of being exhilarated about finishing a huge project, I was exhausted and disappointed instead. For the last month, I haven’t even been able to look at my own book. I figured if other people were reading five pages and concluding that it wasn’t worth reading, maybe I’ve been working on something that only I can appreciate.

In the meantime, I slipped away from this blog. Much of that was the short story collection. I also simply hit the fourth wall with reality television. Every time I tried to write about American Idol, I found myself going off about how “tired” the show had gotten. The Bachelor became less of a “reality” show than a soap opera with non-professional actors playing out a not very well-written script. Yes, Mrs. Chancelucky and I have been watching Jillian and guys, but we’re having a hard time deciding if Wes is more annoying than Shane Llamas. As I look at the reality landscape, there seem to be more and more instances of the shows featuring the mentally unstable. With Jon and Kate Gosselin, I keep asking what kind of country lets two people like this have eight kids? I know somehow that the whole business with Susan Boyle could have been avoided. She could easily have had her “moment” without the meltdown. What happened to reality television where the participants got to do something inspiring then disappear back to regular life?

I did like having an audience, a very appreciative one at that, for my reality tv writing. I’d love to find some way to continue that relationship, but I can’t promote shows that I feel have slipped into something that’s essentially unhealthy. Whatever relationship American Idol had to actual “music” and the joys that come with it slipped away in the last three seasons. Any tie the Bachelor had to “romance” gave way to something far more cynical somewhere after Andy and Tessa’s season. More important, my repeating this in post after post would be both stupid and boring.

So what do I post about? Well, I might go back to political commentary. I’d wanted to give President Obama at least a six month honeymoon and he’s had that. There’s also movie and book reviews and the various odd details of Mr. and Mrs. Chancelucky’s lives. Three’s never been much of an audience for those things here, just as there’s likely little to no audience for my fiction, but I like doing it and more important I do miss blogging regularly.

Anyway, I’m back. I wish I could tell you that there are now dozens of agents trying to take me to lunch so that I’ll let them represent “Inventing China”. I probably need to face the fact that it’ll never happen and I have unintentionally created 280 plus pages of random boredom. In the meantime, I like blogging and I like the fact that sometimes people read stuff I’ve written and find it either funny or interesting.


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