Grateful for a Miracle

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. Continue reading

Bookbeing Seeks Body, Home

Four months after sending my memoir manuscript to a small press (at their request), I mustered the gumption to write them and ask for a rough sense of when they might make a decision. Four days have passed; I haven’t heard back. This lack of response does not give me any definite information about the press, or the status of my manuscript; how I feel, in relation to it, does give me information about how I might like to proceed. Continue reading

Tunnel to Prairie: Escaping My Story

The perennial pitfall of being human is getting stuck in shitty stories. These stories are like dark tunnels: Once we’ve entered, we see no choice except to keep going, hoping that maybe, if we’re lucky, the chute we’re in will intersect with one that’s a touch taller or wider. We forget that the tunnel roofs are mere sod-clumps, through which we could easily bust, to the fresh air and full sun of the prairie.

I am wondering, this morning, about the tunnel I’m in with respect to book publication, and what the view might be from the prairie. Continue reading

Cult Stories: Novels vs. Memoirs

Since beginning work on my Zendik book, more than ten years ago, I’ve read dozens of cult memoirs. (In 2008, on a train from New York to Seattle, I binge-read maybe seven or eight.) Many are terrible; some are decent; a few kick butt. The terribles fall into two categories: self-published exposés with a side of catharsis (“You wouldn’t believe what happened to me; listen while I spew it all!”) and corporately published exposés of groups in the news (“Ignore my incoherent narrative and jerry-built sentences; I’m the only source of the inside scoop!”). The decents tend to recount experiences with groups notorious enough to attract investment from a major publisher, either in the form of payment to a ghostwriter, or ample support and editorial help for the ex-cultist. The ones that kick butt? They’re written by writers. Meaning, these authors were going to write anyway, and their cult episodes begged to be stories. Continue reading