Sunday, August 11, 2013

Day 217 of the 365 Days of Blogging

The author, Dane F. Baylis




Yes, I've recovered from yesterday's disappointment. More or less. One possible benefit out of this, is that I may have, tentatively made a good contact in the literary industry and, for that, the let down is probably worth it.
Along the way I took a look at my options and found a reconstituted and very venerable house with whom to try to place the work I thought I had already sold. Some of you are probably reading this thinking, "Why doesn't that Neanderthal get with it? Self-publish!"
In an ever diminishing constellation of opportunities among the traditional paths to publication, I have given that some consideration. Let's face it, it would definitely take care of one of the major drawbacks of the traditional route, rejection. But is that really a drawback?
I've had my share of those curt, and at times borderline snarky, slips of paper. Occasionally I've received something more along the lines of a full 8 1/2 X 11 sheet, complete with a few helpful suggestions and an invitation to "Try again". In all of this, I have wondered - how much of it was subjective preference and how much objective observation? Whether or not it's some form of nascent masochism or not, I have always returned to whatever it was I'd submitted and, once more, tweaked, polished, and attempted to improve on what I have already done.
Why put myself through this? Because I have a great belief that, no matter what level I think I'm at right now, there is always someone further up the mountain. That's the person who has traveled the route ahead and from whom I can learn the greatest lesson. One of my favorites is John Gardener, the man who brought us the viewpoint of the harassed and harried monster from Beowulf in his story, "Grendel", and so many other works.
A quote from him that keeps me going is, "One of the reasons people stop learning is that they become less and less willing to risk failure." To me, that is what the whole cycle of submitting and having things rejected has been. I have learned how to be a better, more disciplined, and professional writer. I have learned what I knew years ago in the ring: "Three times down. Four times up." I have learned to be a better businessman in this craft and art. What I have learned mostly is that the easy route only makes for laziness and slovenly habits.
The burgeoning trade in self-published work and the diminishing of traditional or mixed venue paths is something I don't fear. The more I see of the self-published mob, the less enticed I am to join them. When you're surrounded by a flood full of fragmented debris and trash it's a whole lot harder to make it to shore and rise above the deluge. On the other side, if I can continue making the small dents I do in the mountain I am scaling, I can hope to, some day, attain a summit few have ever reached.
Is there the chance I'll never get there? Of course there is. That's part of the challenge. And there's the real proof of it all. Why bother writing something that exceeds what is already out there? Why not just write another How-To in a market drowning in them? Why not re-brand the same Zombie slop? Because it's a challenge and you cannot expect to reap the reward unless you risk the failure. That's what adventure in this life is about!
Just another helpful hint from your Uncle Dane.

Dane F. Baylis
 Standing in the back
Of the Cambridge Street Laundorama
Yesterday's "Boston Globe"
Draped from the waistband
Of my underwear
My modesty
Guarded by the world's tragedy
Reflected in the porcelain and chrome
Of this coin operated confessional
Where a city
Washes away its stain
And everything I own
Tumbles over itself
As wrinkled and damp
As the fat old woman
Who is holding my clothes
Hostage for a back rent ransom
Because I cannot get drunk enough
To do like the fey young men
Who live upstairs
And work off their debts
In her creaking bed
Then rush to the communal bathroom
To wash away the memory of that tariff.
We're really not so different
I guess
Washing our agony
In sacraments of Clorox
And poetry
And writing
A fat old woman's phone number
On a laundromat wall.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------, love, write.

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Dane F. Baylis

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