Saturday, August 29, 2015

So what is up with self-publishing??

There's an adage "writers write" that's meant to both encourage and comfort. Those two words bestow identity without waiting for third-party recognition, and they encourage further labor that is isolating and thankless--if not downright demoralizing with the volume of rejection (if you want an audience beyond your mother). Even the worst writer is putting forth great effort to be alone with themselves in their head.

I was a writing prodigy. I opened my first rejection letter at the age of fourteen in 1988 because, at the time, it seemed terribly important to get famous and make a living as a writer. Through the nineties I wrote and submitted, read, wrote, and submitted. I got scholarships to writers conferences. I won a few awards and enough cash to do a couple loads of laundry at the washateria. I wrote my first novel at 21 about a man working in a restaurant discovering he was gay titled Light Breaking Glass. I never submitted it. I wrote my second novel by 29 and it came close to publication... held by an agent for a period and then dropped. It was about two sisters in the 1920s. (I don't have a sister). It was called Picasso's Cat.  My final attempt at a book-length work was called Mother Africa, a work reflecting on my travels overseas woven with a troubling stateside friendship.  It was held by a small press for six months.  I was working on a farm in Massachusetts when the rejection came.  As I was doing paperwork in a converted corner of the hayloft under an eave, my housemate handed me the letter. It was typed on expensive cream-colored paper. I stayed in that loft until well past supper. I wept. I was 33. I never submitted work for publication again.

Let's remember that no agent or publishing company is truly evaluating the quality of the writing being submitted. They are thinking how many phone calls do I have to make to sell this?  If your work doesn't have a clear BISAC code for shelving and target-marketing you are asking an agent or publisher to go above-and-beyond to explain and convince others to buy your work.   Did my work not sell because there is something wrong with traditional publishing? Absolutely not. Some of my writing really sucked. But the structure of the publishing industry at this time in history didn't help.

Exceptional Creatures is a work more market-ready than any of my others, but querying and submitting is a full-time job that takes months, and I find it boring, distasteful work fraught with latent dysfunction. I don't want to write letters that require me to reference where else I've been published and what all my credentials are.

I am disappointed to know that many people are more dismissive of my work because it is self-published. But the real question is one everyone recognizes: Am I happy with my work?  Yes. I love this book; it was a privilege to write and remember. There are some typos and other sentences that make me cringe. There are some scenes that need to slow down or speed up, but it is good work.  I am excited to write the farm and large animal stories next! Enterprising Creatures, I think will be the title.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Paper Clips

I got a climber in the most recent batch of foster kittens. I definitely planned to have my own adult cat in the pic for scale.

I found a paperclip in the kittens' catbox and thought, with clinical remove, how it hadn't passed through the digestive tract so it must have frolicked its way in there somehow.   Back-to-school time means finding office supplies in the litter pan.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Note to self:

Don't forget to write the story about the glow-in-the-dark Virgin Mary in the x-ray room.

Kindle: I have to reformat the book to sell it on kindle. Give me a few weeks. Currently prepping to start the school year with the second-chance kids in Denver Public Schools ages 16-20.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Visiting with foster kittens...

So here we are messing about with the 'text wrap' feature on this blog and displaying evidence that, as my name suggests, I have a strong affinity for felines. The "head shots" are separated by six years. The tiny tabby is from 2009, the little black top-hat is from 2015. Below, I'm wearing a purple shirt visiting with my ghost litter--foster kitties who, one-by-one, passed away before they reached adoption age. That was the week I was walking around holding in my feelings so that inappropriate things like stop lights and fast food commercials made me cry.
         The trouble with blogs is often keeping up with them! But as I've combed through my book manuscript for revision my memory is a trampoline throwing up fresh images and stories that didn't earn their own chapter. This includes my very first vet tech job ever in rural Washington. I took my vet tech exam on January 9, 1998. Why do I remember the date? At that point the NVTE was only offered in hard-copy at different places across the nation at set times. I graduated from Bel-Rea on December 22, 1997 and was determined to take that exam before "I forgot everything" (little did I know my knowledge was IN THERE, stuck!). The closest place the exam was offered next was Olympia WA. So I drove there.  I remember being one of the first ones to finish and leave, filled with gratitude for my comprehensive training and introduction to medical vocabulary. I truly admire OTJ techs. But, I mean...when the doctor says "Grab the 'glyco[pyrrolate]" how are you going to know he means "the anticholinergic drug that protects against vagal induced bradycardia"?  That's the business you need for the licensing test: the language. Ah, language... keys to the kingdoms!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Twist and Hold

     I am not afraid of dentists. Sure, the area of the body with the greatest potential for pain is the head and jaw because we humans pretty much are only brains. We have a lousy sense of smell, hearing and sight. Instead, we have big bubble heads with lots of nerves. But I also believe in the power of pharmacology! Anything that ends in -aine will numb you. Bring it! Benzocaine, lidocaine, marcaine, allocaine...hmm, I need to look up cocaine... I glibly went into the dentist to have a filling and my last wisdom tooth removed; I have dental insurance and there will be no better time. I'll estimate that, over the years, I have removed hundreds of molars in dogs and cats. My first attempts were terrifying--wrenching down on an anesthetized patient, the degree of blood flow measuring your success. I kept calling for the "old" technician, the woman who was large and grumpy and almost forty (ha!) to see if I was doing it correctly, often begging her to take over. Nope. She left me there, sweating and flexing, my biceps burning. Yet I'd never been on the receiving end of a tooth removal. You take something called a dental elevator (as if you press a button and the teeth glide up and out) that is slightly spoon-shaped at the end. You wedge it down into the socket and twist and hold. The holding of the twist weakens the ligaments, the fibrous web that creates the strongest joint in the body between tooth and jaw. When the sulcus spouts large pools of blood you know you're getting somewhere. My dentist did a great job, with the perfect amount of local anesthesia, but I could still hear the fibers ripping away, hear him asking for a different size elevator, and then his apology for needing to go after a root tip. Root tips are like the last pair of shoes and a lamp left from an ex who just moved out -- get it gone or it festers.
     I failed to create a chapter about dentistry in my storybook. Dr. Doran will show up again for sure. And maybe that old technician.