Sunday, March 31, 2013

Second Chance

“Easter is very important to me. It’s a second chance.”—Reba McEntire

I was doing my weekly shopping trek through the neighborhood yesterday when I spotted a cat in a local real estate office taking in the afternoon sun.

This feline was really loving the rays. He—or she--sat on the other side of a glass door in the sphinx position with his eyes closed and his mind completely focused on savoring this bright spring day like it was a boatload of fresh tuna.

Now there’s someone who really appreciates the little things in life, I thought as I lugged my groceries down Fifth Avenue.

Today is Easter Sunday, a day when we should appreciate all the beautiful things in life both big and small. I’ve been in something of a funk for the last week so this is a good time to renew and reclaim everything I hold dear.

I felt like I was in a rut with my writing and I got so low that I seriously thought about ditching the whole fiction writing fantasy.

Given my age and lack of success thus far I was having a hard time convincing myself that it was worth the effort to writing anything outside of a shopping list. What’s the point of all this work when I’ve got so little to show for it?

Then I remembered that the last time I was in this treacherous state of mind I had written a commandment to myself in my journal: You have not earned the right to quit!

To be honest, I’ve never done the starving artist routine. I’ve never lived in a hovel while working on my masterpiece, never sacrificed whole sections of my life the way some artists and writers have done over the centuries. I’ve always had one foot safely placed in the workday world while I toiled away at my craft in my free time.

If I’m going to surrender my dreams so easily, I probably have no business dreaming in the first place.

Action is the best way to beat a bad attitude, so I searched online for small publishing houses that might be interested in new talent.

I found an outfit in California that was—glory hallelujah!-- accepting manuscripts from writers without agents.

Perfect, I thought, I’ll shoot them an email.

But there was one problem. These people actually want prospective authors to snail mail a hard copy of their manuscript out to the left coast. Funny, I could’ve sworn the 19th Century was over…

Sign, Sealed, Delivered

I haven’t mailed out my work in years and I dreaded the dreary process of printing out labels and letters and hauling the thing down to the post office where I’d stand in line—as opposed to being online—and then wrestle with some allegedly civil servant about how I should send my package.

Fortunately I had a print-out of the manuscript from a previous sale attempt that had gone nowhere and I decided to apply myself to getting the damn thing together.

This turned out to be a swift pain in the hindquarters. I’m computer hopeless, so I had to put my printer in a headlock before I got all the necessary materials ready to go. But I did it.

I can’t afford to blow a week day afternoon at the post office, so I went to a local UPS store on Saturday and entrusted my work to a delightful young saleswoman behind the counter.

She found the perfect-sized box and when I placed my massive manuscript inside the cardboard accommodations her eyes widened in astonishment.

“You wrote a book?” she asked excitedly.

“Why, yes,” I responded, as if I knocked out novels every week. “It’s a crime novel. I’m from Brooklyn and I’m half-Italian so I guess that’s no surprise. Wish me luck.”

We chatted some more and then I paid my bill, thanked the young lady for her help, and made for the door. I was just about to step out into the world when she called out to me.

“Good luck!”

Oh, my goodness, the two words were enough to lift me straight up into the air. And it felt gratifying to do something about my situation instead of just complaining all the time.

I know the odds of getting published or produced are stacked decidedly against me and that there’s a very good chance this company in California will politely tell me to use my manuscript for a doorstop. There’s nothing I can do about that.

All I can do is keep writing, sending stuff out, and praying that someone out there will finally say yes.

The only time you earn the right to quit is when you quit breathing.

I worked out onto the street with a renewed sense of purpose. I had my confidence back and I felt happier than a cat sitting in the sun.

Happy Easter.


Ron said...

Okay, between your description of the cat laying in sun; the girl at the post office; and your uplifting words in this post, you had me SMILING all through it, Rob!

"All I can do is keep writing, sending stuff out, and praying that someone out there will finally say yes.

The only time you earn the right to quit is when you quit breathing."


You said it!!

And bravo to you for sending out your manuscript. And I'm also happy that you decided NOT to ditch your fiction writing because I have an awesome feeling that it's gonna happen for you. And I really mean that!

HAPPY EASTER, buddy! And thank you for sharing the perfect post for this day....RENEWAL!

Have a grrrrrreat week!

Rob K said...

Happy Easter, Ron!

Thanks for the encouragement! From your mouth to God's ear! I wanted to use this post to discuss the theme of renewal and rebirth. It's a vital part of a happy life.

Have a great holiday, buddy, and take care!

Bijoux said...

How exciting, Rob!!! I'm proud of you for getting it done! Sometimes the hardest part is just seeing a project through to the very end. I've got a few projects I started and then gave up on, thinking I'd finish when I had more time. Yeah, that was a decade ago!

And good move, going to UPS! Ha!

Here's hoping for good news, and soon!

Rob K said...

Thanks, Bijoux! You're right about finishing being the toughest part.

We start things with a big head of steam and so often they just kind of peter out. Maybe it's time for you to revisit some of your outstanding projects. Take care!

Jay at The Depp Effect said...

Oh, what a delightful post to read today! I'm SO glad you hauled yourself back upright and gave it another shot, and I wish you success this time with all my heart. Enjoy the 'cat in the sun' moment because even if the Californian publishers accept your novel as it is, here and now, there will be some hard work ahead of you, that's for sure. But it will be worth it!

Remember: Success is the art of getting up just one more time than you get knocked down.

Rob K said...

Oh, bless you, Jay, you always say just the right thing to make me smile.

I expect hard work to come with any potential sale and I'm ready for it. I will get up more often than I'm knocked down!

Take care!