Here’s An Idea…

November 12, 2009 at 5:33 am (Uncategorized)

I’m trying not to worry unduly, but I’m feeling very doubtful that the agency news is going to be good. It feels like it’s taking too long. I wouldn’t think this but for the fact that I know two other writers who are signed to this same agency, and I know the timeline from the request for the full MS to the offer of representation was much tighter than the month I’ve been waiting to hear. In fact, one of them heard back in a couple of days. In fairness (and optimism), the agent who requested my full MS did explicitly say it might take a while to get back to me – but what is a while? I’m not sure, but this certainly feels like a while to me…

I’ve been asking Llew to clear out our P.O. Box downtown for a few days now. It’s on the same street as his office, and en route to the ferry wharf, so it should be a simple enough task. But it’s been getting lost in among Llew’s work pressures, which are back with even greater force than they had before we went away. He’s just got his own stuff to worry about, and I don’t think imagines for a moment how much this is plaguing me. I already know there’s one returned MS waiting for collection; what I want to know is, are there two? Have I not heard anything via email or phone because the MS was returned while I was away? It’s ENTIRELY plausible. And that’s what’s driving me crazy.

On the other hand, I was reading your always heartening words of encouragement today and Tuesday, and it occurred to me that I really do feel pretty fulfilled here at DoctorDi even though ostensibly there’s nothing in it except my writing and your reading. Of course I say ostensibly because in the case of my fellow bloggers, we do have the friendships – curious though they are to people who don’t engage in this way – that have built out of reading each other’s writing. And I know other friends of mine, some in Australia and others overseas, read this blog without commenting or letting me know that they do, and that’s lovely for me too, because it keeps us connected. Writing is and always has been an end in itself for me, the act is a force within me – I really don’t want to compare writing to urinating, but it’s that basic. When you’ve gotta go, you’ve gotta go, and not going is extremely bad for you. Well, that’s writing (and reading, like drinking water is to peeing) for me. So I don’t question whether or not I’d continue doing this even if all of you were to stop reading it, because the fundamental truth is that I would, of course I would, if not here exactly, then in a diary or letter or some other field of the written word.

So it’s an end in itself. Okay. This and recent conversations in the context of something else entirely have made me question why conventional publication is so important to me. It’s always been the Holy Grail: a novel, published by a reputable house with my name on the cover. I have dreamed of such a thing for most of the days of my life. That, I know, is because books really are holy to me, and the articles themselves precious. Properly published novels are the gold standard and they always will be. And yet I’m realising being recognised in this way is slowly sliding down the ranks of significance for me until I’m beginning to wonder if it really matters so much at all. When I read Grad’s comment the other day, and responded that it’s enough for me that she thinks this mystical thing will happen, I realised with a jolt that I really did mean it, which means I don’t need the mystical thing after all. I just need Grad. And the rest of you who find what I do here interesting enough that you come and spend some of your all too precious time with me. Isn’t that, finally, what it’s all about?

Yes.

So this radical realisation on my own part is making me wonder about whether or not there’s merit in simply posting my MS here for those of you who are interested in reading it. Or uploading it on a ‘fiction for a fiver’ basis, or something like that, because I think Llew would have a total fit, and fair enough, if I simply published three years of work online. This is particularly because of the amount he’s worked to make it possible for me to spend that time writing it. It would be plain disrespectful to say, ‘Oh yeah, I just posted it on my blog, I decided not to worry about that whole publication thing.’ Anything I decide will be in consultation with him. But I’m just wondering. If all I really care about is trying to communicate something in writing that other people might like to read, then why not?

In other news, Australian writers have had a win, and it’s a biggie: the Government has found in favour of retaining parallel importation restrictions – hooray!

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18 Comments

  1. charlotteotter said,

    Give us a teaser if you want to, but don’t give up on your publication goal. I am absolutely with you that publication of your book is the Holy Grail. Have you considered submitting your MS outside of Australia? Is it possible that you might find an agent in the US or the UK? Or even Germany, which has a vast publishing industry? Don’t give up, Di, keep trying. You believe in your book – others will too.

    • doctordi said,

      It’s funny, Charlotte, but I truly haven’t been thinking of it in terms of giving up. I just thought maybe I should open my mind to the possibility that I’m focusing on the wrong piece of the puzzle. I’ve only approached two agents in Australia, so I’ve hardly exhausted the avenues here, and I’m not jumping off the back step or anything dramatic. I’m just examining my motives, I guess.

  2. litlove said,

    Online isn’t the best place for your MS because reading on a screen is a very different beast to reading on paper. I will happily read 1,500 words of a blog, but can’t imagine myself reading 50,000. Build your platform here, and use blogging as practice and sounding board and emotional clearing space, and keep going with other media too. Slow down, dear Di! Take a few deep breaths. It will happen, not today, probably not tomorrow, perhaps not next week. But it will.

    • doctordi said,

      LL, I appreciate the way you give me a sound reason why online isn’t the right mode because that’s what I’m wondering. What are the pros and cons, why I should or shouldn’t. It’s so funny you say slow down… I don’t think I could go any slower than this. I already feel I have completely decelerated. There’s no finger twitching over a button or anything, it just felt like something I should consider.

  3. Simonne said,

    I’m with Charlotte. I’d love to read a teaser, but don’t give up on your baby yet. I’m SO with you on this holy grail of being published thing, except I think you’re more advanced in getting over the totally overwhelming desire for it than I am!

    • doctordi said,

      Thanks, Simonne. Again, I’m truly not seeing thinking about this as giving up, more just wondering if I’ve been mistaken in my thinking. Yes, that’s exactly it, I think that overwhelming desire to be published has just started giving way to something else, and I am trying to figure out what that something else might be.

  4. Grad said,

    Dear Di, as I read this I felt that familiar stinging in the eyes, then the gulpy thing that happens in the middle of the throat…you know, just before one bursts into tears and leaks like a sieve. Your clever, insightful and beautiful writing on this little Di-Planet, floating somewhere in the universe, draws us all back again and again – that and your personhood of course – the stuff that makes you Di (with an A at the end). And it truly is writing, and it satisfies the soul – yours and ours. Okay – here comes the BUT – But a dream must be pursued because it isn’t so much the prize as the journey. Dreams must NEVER be abandoned. As Joan Didion says, “Life changes in an instant.” I believe you will be published – someday. But even if you are not (of course, you already have many articles published which is quite an accomplishment already)…but even if you are not, you will have filled the minutes and hours of your life, doing something you love, in the pursuit of a dream. P.S. If you had time to start MS#3 you would have no further to look for a theme than you and Nana. Now, get back to work.

    • doctordi said,

      Graddikins, you do make me smile. And I do believe I am pursuing my dream – I am writing! I am making my living out of writing, and I am spending my days writing, and I am testing myself and learning from others and doing all these things that all have to do with pursuing the thing I love and the thing I believe in my heart I am meant to do, and that all revolves around writing. So I guess all I’m saying is that it feels like the writing, more and more, is truly enough, is truly THE thing, and that the dream isn’t being published so much as this, just writing, and finding friends who write and read and like talking as we do. I just don’t know that it gets any better than this, simply this.

  5. Lilian Nattel said,

    Don’t post it. Keep on with making it better. Keep on with publishing. Have some faith in yourself. Many others have faith in you.

  6. Lilian Nattel said,

    You asked whether, if all you want is to communicate, shouldn’t posting it online suffice. But that is a bogus question because it doesn’t come out of a sincere seeking of the most effective way to communicate, it comes out of understandable frustration and anxiety. That’s why I’m not answering the question you posed, though it’s an interesting one. The real question in my view is whether, when you’re frustrated and anxious and have put in 3 years of work, you should wash your hands of it all or go on. And my answer is above.

    • doctordi said,

      Darling Lilian, I couldn’t be more sincere. i want to hasten to assure you that it’s exactly that, a genuine questioning of the most effective way to communicate. I don’t even feel that frustrated anymore because I think my ambitions have changed or are changing. For such a long, long time, I wanted the book, I wanted the recognition and validation, and that absurd, stupid fantasy of fame and fortune(which was all about ‘showing them,’ whoever they are), and none of that features in my dreams anymore. I am doing the best I can do, and whether it ever gets published or not, that seems now to be enough for me, which makes me less… cagey about it, I suppose, and less zealous about the form it takes. I wasn’t thinking of putting it online as washing my hands of it all. This is a legitimate forum, I like it here, I like all of you, and it seemed worthwhile to pause and ask myself if my MS mightn’t be happy here too.

      At the moment, it’s with an agent and is entered in a national competition. I haven’t given up on the idea of its one day becoming that Holy Grail published novel. But I won’t feel a failure if that never happens – I can’t and I won’t. I’ve done the thing I set out to do, and I’ll keep doing it regardless, and that’s valuable and a totality I can live with very happily indeed.

      Thank you all, I just DO NOT know what I would do without you, nor what unknown struggling writers did when this sort of camaraderie simply wasn’t possible.

  7. woo said,

    I agree about the internet/blogosphere being a good place for 1500 words, but not the best place for 50,000: that’s still the printed book IMHO (Of course, the fact that I work in book publishing doesn’t bias me at all, oh no…).

    So, yes, a teaser would be wonderful – I’m sure we’d all enjoy it and possibly be able to give you some useful feedback. But don’t publish the whole oeuvre on the net – keep on improving and sending it out to agents and publishers and, one day, it WILL be picked up.

    πŸ™‚

    • doctordi said,

      Can someone please explain to me why on earth the idea of a teaser freaks me out more??!!

      • davidrochester said,

        It’s for the same reason that first dates are horribly stressful … the fear that there’s not enough time for the real worth to shine through.

  8. woo said,

    Oh, and I think that what struggling writers did before the advent of t’interweb made supportive connections like this possible was pretty much the same as struggling artists… i.e. drink themselves into a stupor and several divorces.

  9. doctordi said,

    Laughing AND nodding, Woo – there’s been quite a bit of that even with the advent of the web!

  10. davidrochester said,

    I have a different opinion on this than the majority of your readers — but since when is that news? πŸ™‚

    A few years ago, when I decided I no longer wanted to pursue traditional publication, I did publish my entire novel online … all 120K words of it, on a private blog that people could access by specific invitation only. And I got a surprising number of readers, who did read the whole thing, and gave me some useful feedback about it.

    So — I think there is some merit in the idea, but I would do it on a separate, private site so that it doesn’t get the “already-published” stigma when you find an agent who is interested in it … it will have bee distributed among a select group of readers much as you might do if you had an online writing group. That way, you’ll potentially have the best of both worlds … readers if you want them, and still not have it exposed to the great unwashed public.

    It works best if you put up each chapter as a separate blog post; it’s not so overwhelming visually that way. And then, you have to post it in reverse, so the last chapter isn’t the first post. πŸ™‚

  11. doctordi said,

    David, re. your first comment above: YES! I think that’s it. A real dread of having you all read a small excerpt and judge the whole on that basis (always unfavourably in my imaginings, of course).

    I’m going to take a breather on this idea and indeed on the whole question of MS #1 – but I love knowing you did this very thing and that it worked for you. I’m very buoyed by that.

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