Anyone want to be me for a couple of hours? Think CAREFULLY before answering

I’m pretty bummed. Sort of terrified. As usual, I’m having second thoughts and feeling reluctant about attending the workshop that I signed up for some time ago. It’s the FenCon workshop here in Dallas this weekend. Are any of you going to be there? Would you like to take my place and just “be” me for two hours? Surely that would be allowed, if we worked it out with the organizers.

Since I still can’t drive (not enough fast action in the right leg to trust that I could slam on the brakes and whatnot), I’ll be asking hubby to take a day off work and drive me up there. It turns out that our meeting was moved to 1 PM and will last two hours, which means he has to come back for me at 3PM. This will mean he’ll need to find something to do in the area (he doesn’t want to pay to attend the con) for two hours. I suppose he’ll be willing, but I’m not sure that I should even make him do this. It’s an imposition.

I think this con will be like all the others: I go in, I chat with a few people but they have their own cliques so I’m not really a part of it, I sit and listen to critiques that say this or that (but nothing that sparks any particular insight), and then it ends and everybody stands up and turns to one another for conversation and I find I’m staring at everybody’s back and I get dismissed, just like that. That’s fine–people have no reason to like me, and it’s their choice to make–but for me, why bother? I’m not going to be singled out as the one who got it right . . . I’m not going to get a request for the full manuscript . . . it’s not gonna be any different from the way it has been a thousand other times. And why should it be? I’m nobody. I need to ACCEPT that. Maybe that is the lesson of this life. I don’t seem to be able to learn it worth a crap, but at least I figured out that’s the lesson. Do I get partial credit?

Seriously, I wouldn’t mind someone sitting in for me at the session and taking in the comments I’ve written on the others’ work, if that’s allowed. I hate to see all that cash I sent in being blown on nothing, and I think someone ought to have the experience of listening to whatever wisdom gets spouted during the critiques. Maybe you’d hear something that made sense for you. Nothing makes sense to me any more.

There are many reasons I feel this way. Here are a few that come to mind.

1. I have this broken knee. I hate elevators (they’re deathtraps if the electricity fails and there’s a fire, for one thing.) But this crazy hotel has all the conference meeting rooms on the second floor, so I’ll have to go up the stairs. Now, it’s tough for me to step up on the damn curb these days. Hubby can come with me to the door and go along step by step behind me, and I should be OK if we go up slowly, but what a drag. No, I don’t want to be desensitized or whatever. This is one of the least of my eccentricities.

2. I don’t think I can take the psychic pain. I mean . . . my initial fantasy when signing up was that the editor would like the novel and ask to see the rest of it. But that’s not very likely (see #3.) I’ve come to accept that a book can be fairly decent and still not strike a chord with a particular reader/editor/agent, and so it’s just as likely that she’ll be turned off by some aspect of the novel. She might even hate it, the way some readers have, or hate the main character. So it goes. After the summer I’ve had, I need a positive experience. This is just another case of setting myself up to be knocked down. My self-esteem is fragile enough right now, thanks. I really don’t need any more “cutting down to size” or “reality checking” or whatever you want to call it.

I don’t know WHY I always cling to this fantasy that someone’s going to like THIS novel at last . . . okay, then THIS one . . . and so forth. I’m still clinging to the hope that my mystery will win that contest that announces in November, even though the rational part of my mind knows how stupid that is, because when someone else’s name is announced, I’ll not only be devastated and disappointed, but also feel like a little fool. How could I think that the Student Body President would ask me to the prom and that they’d make me Prom Queen? Stupid! Let’s get real and just be thankful we’re not dead and that we’re not blind or paralyzed or living in a cardboard box under the bridge. Something in my early life made me want to strive to do this or that great thing . . . and that has not served me well. It has served anointed types like Bill Clinton or Rachael Ray well, but I’m just the schlemiel (or, worse, the schlimazel*) who always thinks she’s going to come out with the prize but ends up with the booby prize. *sigh* I need to just WAKE UP and give up these aspirations so I can enjoy life before it’s too late.

But I can’t. What’s wrong with me?! Shit.

* [The schlemiel is the guy who knocks over the pitcher of beer and it spills all over the place. The schlimazel is the poor fool who gets it spilled all over her.]

3. I’ve read through the other submissions from my group. Supposedly, we were grouped by the type of stuff we submitted–thus, all the YA authors together. Well, I’m not so sure. I think my work was judged as crap, and that all of us crap artists were lumped together. (This is reminiscent of what happened at that long-ago Fantasy Faire, where I was told my fantasy novel was “nothing but a dungeon run writeup”; it wasn’t, and nothing helpful was said about the flaws that it DID have because it was dismissed on these grounds. Same thing could happen this time.) To put it bluntly (you’re shocked, because I’m usually so nicety-nice, *ha*ha*ha*), much of the work I read is OK, but simply not ready for prime time. There’s nothing about it that makes me think it would sell right away. Why was I put with this group? I suspect it’s because we’re the ones that the screeners thought were crap, and we’re going to get the lecture for beginners. (“Don’t use passive voice,” “never use ‘be’ forms,” etc.) I could *give* the lecture for beginners; in fact, I often do.

Now, I am not lying when I say that powerhouse agent Miriam Kriss said of _Camille’s Travels_, “I love this book.” Even when she rejected ME as a potential client, she was still saying, “I still love this book.” The other NYC agent who loved the book but ultimately decided not to take me on *also* said, “I’m sure this will sell eventually.” Again, it’s the WRITER who’s bad, not the novel.

Or perhaps those two were wrong. Perhaps the book has fatal flaws. Perhaps nothing I ever write will ever be marketable in this market or in markets to come. Okay, but I don’t need to hear that again at this workshop session.

I don’t think _Camille’s Travels_ is unpublishable. I think Camille’s voice has to be in the manuscript, and so I can’t rewrite it to “sound” different the way many people would suggest. If this workshop ends up being one of those “you’re too detailed a writer” and “don’t use big words” things, I can do without hearing it. If I were going to be able to change my style to be more like John Grisham’s, I’d have done it years ago.

This is not the fault of the workshop people. It’s MY fault. Why do I keep doing this? Why do I keep entering contests, querying agents, screwing with all this stuff? I could be cleaning up this house and doing my knee exercises. In fact, I should be.

I don’t know WHY I ALWAYS sign up for these things. It’s crazy. I’m delusional. A dreamer. Always imagining that if I can just get my work in front of that “right” person with whom it clicks, things will fall into place. I mean . . . I don’t claim to have the native eloquence of or the inventive plotting skill of , but I do know my work isn’t utter crap. _Dulcinea_ is tarred with the POD brush, and it has had no promotion and no advertising, yet it still sells a few books every quarter. I get a royalty check and statement every quarter showing between ten and forty books getting sold. Now, whether that’s by word of mouth, by accident, or *how*, I don’t know. But I seriously have always believed that if one of my books had half a chance and got onto bookstore shelves (meaning it got put out by Random House, DAW, or some other large NYC house), it would do well. It wouldn’t be as bad as some novels I’ve tried to read recently. There’s crap on the shelves–go out and pick up ten books at random, and you’re going to find at least one dud that makes you ask, “How did this one get published?” It’s not as if they haven’t had other failures–why not let me take a chance at being one of them, and maybe surprising them by succeeding?



Anyhow, I can’t work up any enthusiasm for going to this con. If you’re going and you’ll be there on Friday, you should stop in at the Connie Willis early bird panel at 3 PM. I think that would be interesting. Again, however, I don’t think I want to go. What would I do–sit in the audience and laugh appreciatively and think up some inane question for her, and then maybe ask it? What point is there to that? It’s not as if I really have any questions, and she’s heard “I love your work” before so many times that it would be pointless for some unknown (me) to say it again. I’m not really going to “meet” her or whatever if I go to this. And there’s no reason to, anyway. There’s simply no point.

How’d it get so late? I have a doctor’s appointment in the morning so I can receive my tongue-lashing for not keeping my blood sugar down over the past three months. And for not losing more weight while on the increased-calorie regimen the orthopedic surgeon put me on (instead of the MediFast modified fast, because he wanted my bones to grow back together–and they did; I’m grateful.) And for not having the various doctors send him updates on my appointments with them, although I did ask them to (they never do . . . they forget.)

Mama’s appointment is right after mine. I’m kind of looking forward to hearing HER get a tongue-lashing. *evil grin* She hasn’t been sticking to what she’s supposed to do . . . naughty. And she didn’t have a broken leg as an excuse! (Lucky girl.)
“Books say: she did this because. Life says: she did this. Books are where things are explained to you; life is where things aren’t. I’m not surprised some people prefer books. Books make sense of life. The only problem is that the lives they make sense of are other peoples’ lives, never your own.”–Gustave Flaubert

“I don’t want to regain my innocence. I want the pleasure of losing it again.”–F. Scott Fitzgerald, _This Side of Paradise_

“A craftsperson/designer has a goal; an artist has a path.”

“We’ve Upped Our Standards–So Up Yours!”


Author: shalanna

Shalanna: rhymes with "Madonna" and "I wanna," and is not a soundalike with "Hosanna" or "Sha-Na-Na." Aging hippie with long hair, husband, elderly mother, and yappy Pomeranian. I've been writing since I could hold a crayon. I started with fiction, which Mama said was "lying." “Don’t tell stories,” she would admonish, in Southern vernacular. “That's all in your imagination!” When grownups said this, they were not approving. So, shamed, I stopped telling stories for a few years--rather, I stopped letting anyone read them. I'm married to a fellow computer nerd who doesn't really like hearing about writing, but who reads sf/fantasy and understands the creative drive. I'm actually a nonconformist/hippie still wearing bluejeans and drop earrings and the Alice-in-Wonderland hair with headbands and sandals. Favorite flavor is chocolate/orange, favorite color is either Dreamsicle orange (cantaloupe) or bubble-gum pink, favorite musical is either Bye Bye Birdie, Rocky Horror, or The Producers . . . wait, I also love The Music Man. Is this getting way too specific and irrelevant yet? Obvious why I don't sell a ton of flash fiction, isn't it? To define oneself, I always say, it is good to make a list. How about a booklist? Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird Frank and Ernestine Gilbreth, Cheaper by the Dozen C.S.Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (all the Narnia books) J.R.R.Tolkien,The Hobbit/LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy Gail Godwin, The Odd Woman F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby J. D. Salinger, Catcher in the Rye (before dismissing it, actually read it) George Orwell, 1984 Kurt Vonnegut, Cat's Cradle Donna Tartt, The Secret History Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn James Allen, As A Man Thinketh Mark Winegardner, Elvis Presley Boulevard James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times The Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum Winnie-the-Pooh/House at Pooh Corner, A. A. Milne Peter Pan, J. M. Barrie The KJV and NIV Bible (each translation has its glories)

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