Friday, December 5, 2008

All In

Dear Sam,

Thanks for sending me "Craving Soul Food." I'm afraid it didn't work for me.


I apologize in advance for the breadth of this post...I was considering titling it "More Than You Ever Wanted to Know."

Above is the rejection letter I received for the story I'd mentioned in my previous post. I'd gotten rather used to rejection letters, but the last couple have cut unusually deep. I had a story at GUD for 130 days and was getting my hopes up too high. It'd been awhile since any good writing news, and I was starting to count on the acceptance.

-Radio edit - please excuse.

But the latest rejection sent me down the road of introspection. I mentioned my writing group before. It seems to me that any story they put their all into ends up rewarding them. For me, not so much. The logical conclusion is I suck. Nobody's ever accused me of being logical, though.

I've very seriously considered chucking the writing aspirations. I'm a decent husband and a very good father. I'm pretty good at my day job. I think without the constant distraction of writing, I could be great at all those things. And I'd be much less frustrated.

Just when I decided to take the leap, to quit cold turkey, I get a call from my dad. Over Thanksgiving, he'd watched my son for a day. Without prompting, Dad told me how Nick had boasted to him that "My dad's an author." While I dispute the claim somewhat, it's kind of a nice feeling to have your son bragging on you. The shoe's so often on the other foot, it caught me a little off-guard.

So. Now what?

I can't let my boy down, but I'm not going to go through the next few years on this emotional roller-coaster - affecting every aspect of my life when writing things don't go my way. But I can't look myself in the mirror without thinking "Damn, I'm a pretty man!" - Sorry bout that, I get distracted when I look in the mirror. I meant I can't look at myself and know I've tried my hardest.

I just don't feel I've really given writing a consistent, concentrated effort.

This post is me throwing down the gauntlet for (at?) myself. I'm all in until my next birthday on July 31 (cash is always a nice gift, btw). Perhaps things will be going well enough then that my goals can be modified, but something huge will have to occur.

What must happen before then:

My collection must come out, and the reviews better not completely suck. I don't need anymore justification of that logic thing I previously mentioned.

I must sell to a professional market.

I must finish my POS novel.

I have two interviews with established authors that I've promised to complete, and they must be completed.

Most importantly, if I look in the mirror that day, and after throwing myself the required kisses, know that I'm still not giving it the effort, then I quit. If I can't sustain a solid effort for eight months, it's time to turn my attention to other pursuits.

All in. Public humiliation is a great motivator.