07 February 2011

The Morning After

Greetings, weary-eyed Mondayers!

Now that the Super Bowl is done, life may resume unfettered. To be fair, and somewhat accurate, I do not arrange my life around a football game, even the culmination of an entire season. Sure, I follow my teams and watch when they are televised in my area. However, I think of it more as "something to watch" in the vast weekly wasteland of television offerings. In other words, given the lack of anything worth watching in the course of a week, a football game involving one of my favorite teams seems a fairly reasonable use of my time. Other than writing, of course. Or editing. Yesterday, however, seemed quite anticlimactic. I should have been writing.

This morning I pounced on the ABNA page--that dang contest thingy I dropped my literary fiction masterpiece into--for some non-football commentary and lo and behold! The announcement that both categories are now closed. I had a momentary panic. Then I remembered that my entries were already loaded and polished. Yes, in that order: first the uploading of a perfect manuscript, etc., then the polishing to make it more perfect. (And, indeed, a couple more tweaks prior to the closing date.) I feel confident of my writing (in that novel, at least, although I hated to have to cut it down to fit within the guidelines; had to trim a couple of complete storylines out wherever they appeared across several chapters), but I never have good luck when it comes to playing the numbers. (I once won $86 dollars on a lottery ticket in 1986 and decided that was as lucky as I am ever likely to be.)

Off the topic!

I read the entries of discussion topics on the Amazon boards and found one about what writing one has done, apparently related to one's presumed qualifications to enter the contest or to be published. That got me reading. The first thought that came to my mind was that I had completely neglected to mention my publications in my ABNA bio. I've had a few stories and poetry published in journals, not big name publications but selected by a jury of my peers.

The second thought I had was, yes, I've written several novels*--but I realized immediately that my lack of desire to share that information was due to my expectation of people wondering why they had not been published. That's kind of an embarrassment. The answer, as unbelievable as it may seem, is that while I like writing I hate marketing. There is no rejection during writing, tehre is after writing. I've sent the manuscripts out a couple of times (in the old school process of the 1980s and 90s that meant the cost of sending a ream of paper out plus return postage, then waiting 6 months up to a year for a response or returned manuscript, usually with a form letter; a couple such letters did have handwritten compliments and words of encouragement on them) and by the time they were rejected I was well on my way working on the next one. My batting average isn't high, but my times at bat isn't high either. I suppose I need an agent to do that sort of thing for me--which is another problem!

Part of that Amazon thread included questions about influences. I have written about that as part of my dissertation--a decidedly non-fiction work of scholarship masquerading as New Age mysticism. In that work, I broached the idea that literary influences--among all experiences--help shape and construct a person's identity, that is, the person's sense of self. I examined my own upbringing and the experiences which I could see had influenced me. That process opened doors I had long forgotten existed and had been shut forever. It was more, and went deeper, than merely reading certain books or seeing particular films. It was how the images (in the broader, abstract sense of symbolism) became embedded in my psyche and, as a writer, came out in my own stories. It was not conscious copying, even in homage, but a true regurgitation of material (concepts, images, words and phrases) I did not know had influenced me to such an extent that I had internalized them (themes, symbolism, etc.). This realization was profoundly life-changing. Looking back through my own writing, I could see how experiences in my life--childhood, teenage years, youth, not only events but my thoughts and feelings about those events, in other words psychic experiences, too--had made me who I am (or think I am [or want myself to be]) today.

This, surely, is a topic worthy of greater reflection than what I am prepared to do in a blog posting. But it has prompted me to consider writing more here on the topic. Perhaps it may be helpful for other writers to reflect on the sources of their inspiration, conscious and subconscious, perhaps unconscious (try digging that up!) and consider how they might use that handful of insight to further their writing, and perhaps also further the consctruction of their self-identity.

Off topic again!

So...next time I shall report on my literary influences, such as they are.

*--In Pursuit of Freedom, my 1976 novella (typed on a manual typewriter), a 1984 rip-off later retitled "The Lie" when turned into a screenplay in 1983 and optioned by a minor Hollowood studio. Followed by The Last Song (before Nicholas Sparks stold the title for a sappy romance novel); this novella (1981) is a post-apocalyptic soiree where music is the only solace for a ravaged population--half comedy, half lament. More works continued: see the list at the bottom edge of this blog's webpage!

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