Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Something slightly inspiring?

I was a junior in college when I was asked by my English Professor to meet him, which meant, no matter how wild I imagined, that I was in trouble. Back then I'd already come to the conclusion that 98% of meetings scheduled were basically long and painful discussions about something wrong. As I walked into the meeting, I simply thought: "Can't there be meetings scheduled to deliver good news? There's got to be a few out there...lucky bastards."

"I want to talk to you about being an English major, Patrick," he said. I gulped. Yeah...one of those that touches the top of your heart. After going from theater to recreation, I'd chosen English Literature as my 'destiny' (sorry, just got finished watching Lost). And for the first time I had a definite direction in my life.

He kept going. He was in fifties, been a professor for decades, and what came out of his mouth could be engraved on some ancient cave wall, so I listened. "You know, I've read your papers, and...I don't know...something is just not clicking right up there."

I blinked. "You mean, my-my mind?"

"Yes...well...yes."

I'm not sure how people are made, or how people develop their reactions to people. For example, at this point I could have started crying and listened to him. I could have accepted my fate and sheeped my way out of the room and into a nice comfortable business degree, but that walk back..........that buzzing, exploding, thunder rumbling walk back to my dorm...I got so angry I finished a novel three months later. Of course it was awful, but a year later I culled a short story from it and it ended up winning the college award for best piece of fiction. The best thing about it was that he had to sign the certificate I got framed, which rests in our home, years later.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that, whenever I get rejected (ballpark...I believe I'm batting 8 for 411 at the moment), I almost force myself to call up that anger that got me through that first book, that pulled me out of despair, and when you reach that moment in your story or novel, that moment when the anger that started your car subsides, and the story, the characters, the world, takes over....it becomes a parallel kind of heaven for me.

Anywho, just my two cents.

This is the first time I've ever promoted myself on the internet, so please understand how awkward this is for me, but I need to do it. Currently I am a quarterfinalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Competition. My novel...Humble Trip...is sitting in the General Literature section (don't you just love those Mainstream synonyms?), and I just wanted to provide you with a link to it.

http://www.amazon.com/Humble-Trip-Amazon-Breakthrough-Novel/dp/B001UG3B2M/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1238652996&sr=1-1

The first 17 pages of the novel are there. Just an excerpt. If you have some spare time, I hope you'll read it. I'm waiting for Publisher's Weekly to review it and will know April 15th if I made it to the next round. We'll see, and yes, I'm trying on purpose to be understated. =). I knock on wood about fifteen times a day.

10 comments:

  1. I'll keep my fingers crossed for you, Patrick!

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  2. Thanks for writing your two cents! Hits me in a big round-house way, as I'm struggling right now to 'get noticed' by someone, anyone, in the literary publishing world. I've got several manuscripts, and no interest beyond my own. But I keep writing, and writing, and being a girl who's made out of pig iron, I'm usually impermeable to anyone else's opinion. The problem is that, now, at least on some level, I HAVE to care what someone thinks. It's like walking a tightrope juggling running chainsaws.
    But I've got a short story due to be published in a local magazine, and life rolls on. It helps immeasurably though, to here people like you talk about things that people just don't get, if they haven't got it. :)

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  3. Hey Patrick, I'm running right over to the ABNA to read your submission and give it as big a push as I can. My submission last year made it to the semi-finals, but in the end it wasn't what they were looking for. I tuned it up and thought about entering again this year, but it's a military thriller, and not something that the panel of literary judges would be that interested in. That was made clear last year.

    I am sending it out right now and getting positive responses, but no one has bitten yet.

    Good luck, I'm off to Amazon.

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  4. Thanks, Douglas! I appreciate it. I'm eagerly awaiting the Publisher's Weekly assessment, and am still perplexed at how they dish out 496 books to different people without their being some kind of parade of chaos.

    I actually have three completely different novels, finished, edited, revised. It looks though, thanks to the ABNA competition, that I should probably lead full force with the one they selected.

    Anyway, good luck with it.

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  5. And A. Grey, I definitely hear you about 'Having' to care. I've always struggled with that too. I just keep throwing out the short story grenades and pay out the wazoo on conferences hoping to make some kind of real-life contact.

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  6. Congratulations on your novel! I will definitely try and make the time to read your excerpt.

    I'm thinking that professor needs a clunk upside the head. I'm glad you didn't listen to him! I had similar experiences in college, and also one important experience that was the opposite - where a professor told me that if I did Technical English instead of Creative English, she's kick my butt. I'm glad I listened. :)

    Thank you for sharing with us!

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  7. Beautiful! My heart is aching for Norman - he is that real.

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  8. Thanks for the story. Hits home, as I had the same kind of bad experience with my first (and last) creative writing teacher in college. I was really creative, but did not care much about conventions. Heck, I was just eighteen. He wrote on my story that I should not turn in any more work until I can ... Bastard! Your response was so much better than mine. I finished the class, but stopped trying to do anything with my fiction writing for about ten to fifteen years. There are so many stupid things people can say, like don't bother writing until you are old enough to know what the world is about. Anyway, good for you!

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  9. Diane, thanks so much for reading the excerpt. Norman means a lot to me too. And Dave, I hear you about Creative Writing teachers. Rarely, in that field, can you find an 'average' teacher. They either inspire you toward great things or damage you into a state of suffering so large you either come back out of hell with something resembling masterpiece, or a whole different life.

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  10. *sigh* and it's experiences like these that make me tremble some days. Every single moment, I think about the impact teachers have, and I pray that I am generous and caring and compassionate.

    I've also heard it said that everyone impacts at least 10,000 people in a lifetime. It's up to the individual to decide if it's going to be for good or for bad... I guess it's up to the rest of us to try to balance out the negative ones :)

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