in the dark ages–which is to say thirty years ago–my ambition was to write the great american novel. i retired to the tool desk in the garage of the foster family in which i lived. i laid in supplies — cigarettes, paper, and a particularly vile cocktail of tab with a shot of vodka. i used an unforgiving i.b.m. selectric: every mistake required a careful application of white out and if there were enough frustrations on a page. . .
ripping a page out and starting over was a frustration. a thousand sheet ream of paper might yield only a twenty page short story. think about how often you hit the backspace key.
ten years later, on the edge of my thirties, i sold my first novel. publishing a short story, a poem or a novel required printing out the entire piece, mailing it with a return self addressed envelop to a publisher, and waiting. waiting, waiting and waiting some more. and then getting a rejection letter that would ruin my day or a week or a month.
a form letter is devastating because it has so many ways of being interpreted. . . from “i liked the story but my boss didn’t” to “you don’t even have the talent to write a grocery list”. . . the new yorker magazine gets so many submissions that in the last few years they have instituted a policy of not even giving the writer this much in the way of subject matter for their insecurities.
internet self-publishing means there is no publisher membrane between the writer and reader. there can be true collaboration between writer and reader, as there has been in the book “wool” written in serial form by hugh howley and his readers. that is the sort of collaboration and accessibility that i’d like.
this story was uploaded to amazon by my friend oj. i want you to read it, review it, and help write its second draft. click on http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00CE04WGW to find it. oj, by the way, now qualifies as a publisher because he designed the cover and uploaded the text. would you like him to do this for your next story? because then i could download it and give you my feedback. it’s like we’re a writer’s colony and i’m still in my pajamas. p.s. this story is about a man and his whooping crane. an interspecies love story.
so i hope you’ll download this story. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00CE04WGW and that you’ll like it, review it, give me “room for improvement” comments. and i hope to publish more stories this way. and then i hope you will like those. i don’t expect to be an internet sensation but i hope for a good reader-writer relationship. maybe even have lunch with a reader. or write the great american novel even if it’s just a small little treasure for me and a reader.
really, this sort of correspondence can kill even the best ambitions. shouldn’t we do our best to avoid putting ourselves through this?