Monday, October 22, 2007

They Call it Gaman

Eight months is too long between posts, but hey, I never claimed to be the best blogger in the world. I created this blog to help give me a web-presence so that when my publishing career takes off, I’ll be better equipped to do some shameless self promoting.

But, as most young writers are all too familiar with, the road to success is filled with great empty potholes – long jags of time where nothing is happening. Oh, you’re still writing your little heart out, but either no one is responding to your manuscripts, or you are just stacking up a pile of rejection letters that leans to and fro as you enter the room, threatening at any minute to tumble and bury you beneath self-doubt and dismay.

There are plenty of reasons (some good, some lame) as to why I haven’t been posting lately. On my last post I had written that I was hoping to have re-written my novel by the time my son was born. Ha! Oh man, I still fall over laughing when I read that.

Well, the novel is still being polished, but I really am close to the finish line now. I promise. I just had to learn to write at odd times: after work, late at night, in my sleep ... you get the picture.

Besides the Baby Boot Camp I was attending, I also ran into a spot of bad luck. While re-writing the novel, I also was sending out three short stories that had yet to be published. I figured if any of them landed then that was just one more publishing credit I could show to potential agents.

One of the stories came within a gnat’s wing span of making it into an anthology. It came down to me and another story, but in the end they went with the other guy. That was heartbreaking, I’m not going to lie, but I took a deep breath, did a little revising on the story and sent it back out with its brothers.

I sent all three stories to one publication. I was very encouraged that at least one of these stories would hit the mark. I watched the calender like a druid mathematician, waiting for the response day to come. Well, it came and went. So, like always, I gave it an extra month, playing it light and breezy, when in fact I was all nerves and twitches.

I sent a well edited email, as to not seem too desperate or pushy, and awaited the response. It wasn’t good. They had no record of my stories. They must have been lost in the mail.

I wasn’t very happy, but what could I do? That’s right, nothing. So I sucked it up and re-sent all three stories (this time online). I got an email the next day; they had received my stories. Again I waited. The response time came and went. I dispatched another query email, and once more was informed that all three of my stories could not be located.

I was not in a very good mood. Though I was given the option to re-send the stories again, I declined. Instead I decided to send them out to separate publications.

Two of the stories came back with repeated rejections. No big deal, I was used to that. Besides, at least they weren’t being misplaced. But the one remained out there; not a word to ease my pain.

No news is good news, as they say, and I was hopeful this would hold true. I had sent this story (the one that almost made it into the anthology) to one place in particular that I felt was a great match. Once again the response time came and went, so I sent the all too typical email.

You’ll never guess what happened. That’s right! They had no record of receiving it.

This publication was very understanding, though. They usually required a postal submission, but allowed me to re-send the story by email. I gave it a quick once over, then sent it back.

Same ol’ song and dance. Response day came and went, I sent an email, but this time no response. I waited a couple more weeks, then sent another email. Can you guess the answer?

Right again! They couldn’t find one word of it anywhere.

I literally threw my hands in the air, stomped about my house, and pondered whether or not this was a sign that I should hang up my keyboard, and find a better use of my time.

After cooling off I decided, against my better judgement, to re-send the story a third time. What did I have to lose? It was another email, so at least I wasn’t wasting paper.

The next day my wife informed me that there were two emails in my inbox from the publisher. I assured her that it was only a confirmation that they had received the story and that they would be in contact.

I opened the first email, and I had to read it twice before I could believe what I was seeing. The editor remembered reading my piece, and he wasn’t sure how he had misplaced it. Then he simply stated, "Contract will be along in due time." The second email, sent only minutes later, was asking if I could provide a bio for the story.

Needless to say, I couldn’t hit the floor with my hat. I had my wife come up and read the emails just to make sure that I wasn’t fabricating something in my mind. She verified that I wasn’t crazy, at least about this, so I responded with a heartfelt thank you.

At the moment I am awaiting the contract to arrive. This is my first "professional" sale. My first publication where I’m being paid with dollars and not free copies. It has nothing to do with the money. This is a real publishing credit, and will hold a lot more weight than the other seven that I’ve collected.

Until the contract comes I’m going to keep the name of the publication to myself, lest things fall through, and I look foolish. But my hopes are high, and my spirit is refreshed. I believe the Japanese call it gaman: perseverance.

So, if you were wondering what I’ve been up to these past eight months ... the answer is persevering.