Yes, working online has made it easier to work and communicate for both writers and editors/publishers. You can communicate with anybody, anywhere, send your work, get feedback, get your work accepted or rejected. Often, more of the latter than former.
Still, the accent should be on “easier to communicate”. Unfortunately, with greater capabilities to do so, that seems to be less and less the case, particularly when the “person responsible” has to give a negative comment or reject your work. And that is a shame. Somehow, from “The Shadow of Your Smile”, the title of that great song Tony Bennett made popular, smile is nowhere to be seen, the only thing that remains is the shadow.
Certainly, part of the problem lies in the fact of the online communication itself. It has become a standard habit that a writer doesn’t even get a polite, or not so polite, NO. There is practically almost no direct contact, you don’t have even an inkling what the other person even looks like, let alone a bit more. And that is mostly on the part of the editor/publisher, since the writer is usually required to send a plethora of information, along with his work.
Ok, so they’re busy. And the writer is not? Most of the editors and publishers were writers themselves at one point or other, they should know better. So, they don’t like your work, or they think it does not sufficiently satisfy their strict (or not so strict) criteria. They still, need an answer, even if it is the one they don’t want to hear (read).
Most of them would say that they are swarmed with work offers, queries, solicitations… What about the assistants, or if you don’t have anybody, a rejection template?
As long as you don’t get an answer, as a writer, you are still in the unknown territory, you can still expect a positive response, you usually do, or you can have a feeling that it is a no. But having a feeling is not an answer after all.
Some of the people that have to make a decision on somebody else’s work would try and explain that they’re trying to be polite and politically correct, not trying to hurt the writer’s feelings. But that is usually just a cheap excuse.
Most writers probably are aware of the rejection JK Rawling got at one point when she was told that she should get a day job since she won’t be able to earn any money by writing children’s books. Of course, we all know what happened to her afterwards. Nothing is known about the editor who wrote (spoke) that rejection.
Such negative responses and rejections can certainly be inspiring to writers, if the editors and publishers really care about the writer’s inspiration. But the key still lies in the fact that no matter how negative the answer is, the author can definitely move on. Do the work again, scrap it, get inspired. Move on. They do need to move from that shadow and have a smile on their face. And truly enjoy Tony Bennett, I guess.
Picking out songs about dreams is an easy task. You can do a good job just by picking a few good pop/rock ones that have dreams in their title. Whether you opt for the sultry vocals of Stevie Nicks in Fletwood Mac tune, or sonorous tones of Grace Slick, or the Southern rock stylings of Allman Brothers Band or the rocking stuff of Van Halen, you’re there. And the theme is essential covered.
As in music, or any other art form, dreams in writing have been one of the authors’ staples. Not only have they have been used (and misused), but they have been discussed countless times. Here’s countless and one.
It doesn’t really matter how anybody as a writer stylistically approaches that ‘other reality’, ‘surreality’, or whatever we experience in our sleep, it is how it should be approached as a source of writing.
From experience, it usually turns out that when we wake up, it turns out that we can only remember the contours or pieces of pleasant dreams and we almost feverishly try to remember it all, or try to extract a positive course of the ‘real’ life ahead.
On the other hand, it seems that bad dreams, nightmares are the ones that easily get stuck in our memory, and we can hardly shake them off. Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, there like pieces of sticky sellotape that keep on hanging on to us no matter what.
That is why probably it is often quite easy to transform nightmares into coherent writing. The images could be phantasmagoric, but they are clear and ‘writeable’. What you as a writer see in their purpose is up to you — to dispel your fears, present them to your audience, shake off a bad experience, or simply scare your readers is not the primary thing. Nightmares are just so impressive that they often seem to be writers’ perfect material.
So, what do you do when you want to recount those pleasant dreams, give them strength, present them as a kind of hope to your readers? Do pleasant dreams present just a base for bad writing?
Of course not. If you, as a writer, ever wanted a solid, positive, encouraging idea, there isn’t a better source than those bits and pieces positive, pleasant dreams leave behind them. They’re perfect starting points for any kind of a story, even if the rest of it is something you thought up in reality.
Essentially, pleasant dreams can be a perfect base for some good writing. So keep a notebook by your bedside and have a music playing device close by with a dream song of your choice ready to play…
A decade before “Forrest Gump” hit the screen and Tom Hanks kept on uttering that now almost colloquial phrase, “Life is like a box of chocolates…”, a man I worked with, who had enough of school after his sophomore year at high school, came up with a similar phrase, one I keep quoting quite often, probably boring people that heard it before to death.
In one of his contemplative modes, sitting at the wheel of the official vehicle which it was his job to drive, he went: “You know, life is like a vinyl record. When you put it on the player and let the needle hit the groove, it keeps playing at a constant speed. But, if you take a closer look, at the start it seems like it is playing sluggish. As it approaches, the end it seems like its playing faster and faster. That’s life for you, right there.” I went home and put on David Bowie’s “Ashes and Ashes” right on. He was definitely right!
I don’t know, maybe as the years pass by you get writing ideas faster, it is just that your hands might be slowing down a bit by bit. But that is not the point I’m trying to make a connection between time and writing. It is that writing is actually so consuming that the thinking process, research and the act of writing itself that once you enter, you get a feeling as if time is put on hold.
Writing becomes so engaging that you have a feeling that like in almost every single “Star Trek” episode you get pulled into a wormhole at one point in time and you exit in another. No, I’m afraid writing cannot stop time, but it can certainly preserve it. Whether it is just a few seconds or a series of lifetimes. Makes no difference. It is definitely preserved. And with it, the speed with which the vinyl record plays is not only constant, but seems to be too.
Even if you are a music listener that belongs to a younger generation you certainly know that song “My Sharona”, that peppy song with some great crunchy gears and breaks they sometimes use to define the term powerpop. Great song that will surely go down in the annals of rock music. Along with it, everybody surely remembers the band that composed and played it, The Knack.
Still, ask anybody, even a devoted follower of powerpop to name you anything else the band did, they would certainly have a hard time. That is why The Knack is usually quite often named as one of the best examples of ‘One Hit Wonders’.
The same one hit wonder analogy can easily be transposed to writers and their works. While it was not really based on real life facts, they say that the movie “Finding Forrester” is based on J.D. Salinger and the fact that after the success of “Catcher In The Rye” he became very reclusive and he barely wrote much afterward.
But then, they could have modified the storyline a bit and used somebody like Joseph Heller, who actually wrote more than Salinger, but everybody remembers for his true masterpiece “Catch 22”. Or even more so, Umberto Eco, a brilliant, educated, and astute writer of non-fiction, who also wrote a masterpiece novel in “The Name of The Rose”, with all his other fictional work never even getting close to it, or his non-fictional work ever getting the attention beyond the circle of dedicated fans and experts.
Unfortunately, none of these writers are among us anymore, but we still remember them, cite them, analyze their ‘one hit wonders’ in minute detail. And there lies a point.
Everybody who seriously works on being a writer always has somewhere in the back of his mind that he will leave behind a body of work that will be remembered exactly as such — body of work. But does it have to be so? What is wrong with being a writing ‘one hit wonder’?
Nothing. As writers, there’s always a possibility we will say the main thing we have to say simply in one go, or it can be in pieces, we can be inspired over and over, and sometimes we simply won’t.
But that light of inspiration is there somewhere all the time, just waiting to be put into words. And if you, for example, go through Umberto Eco’s non-fiction a bit more thoroughly, you’re certainly bound to realize that he did not have to write another “The Name of The Rose”. His non-fiction is that good.
The point is not the shape or form or how voluminous your writing is, but how much it counts, even if it’s just for a small circle of people around you. In those circumstances, that circle is bound to spread.
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