Miracles don’t appear on demand, to deliver happy plot twists. They storm stories too weak to resist.
I am writing this entry to clarify my thoughts on the latest swerve in my journey towards publication, and light this stretch of path for other writers. If you have written a book you always assumed would at least be published by a small press, if not one of the Big Five, and you are half-welcoming, half-dreading the prospect of releasing that assumption – this post is for you.
Throughout the ten years I spent drafting, revising, and refining my memoir, I believed (with a few blips – I do remember telling a fellow writer, at Byrdcliffe in 2007, that I’d self-publish if I had to; she spoke up for the benefits of creative collaboration with a publishing partner) that it would be corporately published. I believed, further, that I could control the two key variables affecting the success of my pursuit of corporate partnership: my manuscript’s quality and my own persistence.
If you want to, you can find stories of authors who were rejected by a thousand agents, only to hit the jackpot with number one thousand and one. Authors who heard crickets from a hundred small presses, only to receive a roar of welcome from the hundred and first. The moral of these stories is, roll with the punches. Stagger up from the mat. If you rise enough times, if you endure enough bruisings and batterings, you’ll wear out your opponent. Black-eyed and staggering, you’ll ascend the dais, wearing the crown.
What’s wrong with this moral? It glorifies abuse.
At Zendik, I hoped that one day, if I worked hard and endured, Arol would induct me into her inner circle. She stood above me, empowered by my acquiescence to someday dispense – or forever withhold – the ultimate reward. Therefore, I feared her. And (to a lesser degree) I feared those already gathered ’round her. I also envied them; they had what I craved. So I could never partner with Arol or her intimates, could never engage them in fruitful relationship.
As an aspiring author, I hoped that one day, if I worked hard and endured, a corporate entity would induct me into its inner circle. People in publishing stood above me, empowered by my acquiescence to someday dispense – or forever withhold – the ultimate reward. Therefore, I feared them. And envied those who had what I craved. So I could not engage them as colleagues, or friends.
I did not know that quality matters little, absent partners bewitched by the peculiar flavor of a particular text. I did not know that persistence can be a vice.
If I sound melodramatic, I apologize. I have belonged to this version of my own cult for a long time.
I choose, now, to get out. To re-form my relationship to publication. To step forth as a whole human, subject to no one, serving my book-being. Knowing it will flourish, no matter what path it takes into the world.