the circular runner

Posts Tagged ‘literature’

a rejection letter to be thankful for…

In career, Uncategorized, writing on November 26, 2012 at 10:29 am

I am not one to be thankful when it comes to writing.  Even when I get published somewhere, the euphoria only lasts so long.  Soon enough, I’m starting down that sad, useless road of comparisons.  If, by chance, you are not a writer/artist of the neurotic persuasion, this road is full of distracting signposts along the way. Ones that tell you that of course you got your story into X or Y magazine.  X or Y are not The New Yorker.  They aren’t even some top lit mag like The Missouri Review or Zoetrope.  X or Y magazine aren’t good; in fact, they are desperate.  As the road keeps going, you see another signpost: if X is a print-only mag, the next signpost tells you that you are never going to get read by the piddly few readers who actually subscribe.  If Y-Mag is web-only, the next signpost on the road tells you to turn off and cry because you aren’t good enough to get into print.

You get the idea, I think.

It might be a sign of where I am now; perhaps I have learned to ignore these unhelpful signs along the way.  But that’s unlikely. Still, just a couple days ago, I received a lovely email from the editor of The Fairy Tale Review, a mag that is especially open to the kind of fantastical (not to be confused with fantasy) fiction I tend to write.  I am going to quote the complete note here because…oddly enough, I’m proud of it:

Dear Mr. Martinez,

Please forgive this atrocious lag in response time. FTR is a small operation – my pair of eyes only!, unless you include my glasses, of course. Whereas I absolutely loved your story (I read your submission many times and found it more and more sophisticated and smart with every read!), sadly, we are going to have to pass on it right now. Please understand that this decision has nothing to do with the quality of your writing. I have struggled to create the most balanced and delicate issue, which means making impossibly difficult decisions, heartbreaking ones, such as not taking your story. Please please please consider submitting to us again in the future!

Yours, with admiration,
Lily

This isn’t about bragging.  It’s just to share a nice point of light in what can sometimes seem like the bleak silence of putting words on the page.  How many days/weeks/years do artists toil in obscurity?  The hardest part for me is not the work.  It’s the sense that no one aside from your friends and family think your art is worth a two-penny damn.  How can you know–really know–if you haven’t hit it with readers/publishers/agents because you just haven’t found your way OR because you just suck.

The answer, the sad sad sad answer is that YOU do not know.  You just write/paint/sing and you put yourself out there.  And then, you wait.  AND wait. And wait some more.  But sometimes you get a nice email, and you add some hope to all the wait.

Here’s hoping!

ps. if you want to read the very short fairy tale, check out my portfolio site:

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cause it’s hard out here for a p…, i mean, reader

In career, life, media, Uncategorized, writers & books, writing on August 20, 2012 at 5:11 am

It’s a chilly night here in San Francisco, and I spent the evening catching up on some good old blogging-goodness.  Specifically, I came across a lovely post at Blood Ink Diary about books, owning them, reading them, not lending them–basically, loving them.  So if you love books, too,  I suggest you read the post.

As for me, I should’ve just enjoyed the prose and the message.  But I often do not do what I should do, and as I snuggled against my fleece blanket (I think San Francisco thinks it’s in the southern hemisphere), and read the post, I felt a shiver that was not caused by the fact that I live in a town that summer forgot.  Part shame, part remembrance of things lost would be the best way to describe what I was feeling.  The first because at some point as I’ve tried to write and write and get that writing out there, I’ve forgotten the power of great words, of slow-moving words for words’ sake.  It’s been months that I’ve read a book for joy.  A good half-year since I’ve read a long work of fiction.  Why?  It’s like I’ve become some kind of puritan who pooh-poohs the novel for its lack of “usefulness”.  Sure, my pilgrim brethren didn’t read books about branding and social media campaigns instead of reading fiction, but they dismissed the novel and the poem because they could not see the point to reading anything that didn’t build the soul–aka, scriptures.  Idle hands are bad enough, but an idle mind taking in words over the novel-version of the boob-tube, that was just too much.

It’s cliche, and I’ve already said a million times in this blog, but the Catch-22 of loving words enough that you actually want to string some along in new and weird ways for some imagined group of readers demands that you not do that creating very often.  It demands that you do a lot of selling, of yourself, of your concepts, and maybe, your body, which wouldn’t be bad except that I’m married–sorry ladies.

It’s an impossible situation.  That’s right, Joseph Heller, your little war book is nothing compared to the dilemma of the modern writer.  I was going to say that we writers trade our creative time for money so that we can write more words.  But the truth is that it’s not only the time; it’s also the head space.  To create, to dig the foundation of our imaginary worlds, one has to be kind of pure-minded.  You gotta be focused on the story, not on what that book might do for your wallet after it’s done.

I think that’s why the post I referred to above shamed me a little bit.  Its author is devoted to the words inside all those lovely books on her shelf.  She doesn’t care if they are useful or practical or if they fit the world and its ideas about utility.  A great book focuses the mind, and if you allow me a moment of operatic hyperbole, it focuses the soul.  The same is true of the writing process, of course.  And that’s what I have to remind myself of.  No matter what happens with career or my lack thereof, I cannot forget.  I cannot.

a question for writers of fiction everywhere….

In humor, media, observations, writing on July 17, 2012 at 6:16 am

whoa, dude. stopping bullets with my mind is so cool…

OK here it goes, writer-peeps.  I have a craft question for you.  I put a variation of this question to the great Marc Schuster of Abominations fame, but I thought I’d put a generalized version out to the general population of writers.  So here it is: what do you do when you’re writing a story that is set in a world that doesn’t follow the same rules that our world does?  How do you craft the story so that you don’t end up putting tons and tons of exposition in the mouths of your character or bog your plot down with development stuff that is necessary though painful to read?

I could give some literary examples, but since that would cause me to bog this post down with a lot of detail about books that you might not have read, let me give an example from the movies.  I will admit that not everyone shares my enthusiasm for the first Matrix movie, but man, oh man, I liked that flick.  Even if you don’t agree, I think it’s pretty hard to argue with the fact that the first movie sketched out a strange new world–sketch being the opportune word.  The first Matrix movie gives you just enough facts that you can follow the plot.  You might have questions about how or why, but the movie keeps you going and when it ends, you either think, in classic Keanu-manner, that what you just saw was frickin’ cool or you don’t.  But you can’t punch too many holes in the premise because the premise only had to be developed enough to get you through the two hours.

And then…and then, the directors got greedy or maybe they got artistic.  And they decided to come back and make the world make sense in another couple installments for a novelistic seven hours of film.  And that, my friends, is where it all started going to pot.  To keep the plot aloft, the writers had to come up with a lot of hot air–yes, I mean, the story-telling equivalent of flatulence, a veritable stinky mess of poop-connoting gas.  Not only was the plot dumb, it was also dished out in densely written scenes that made the plot stop and start like…like a bad night on the toilet.

(I will cease the potty-stuff going forward because I sense you are all getting fed up and because I think I’ve made my point.)

Look, I’m not just a critic.  I’m a participant in this crap-style of story development.  The third issue of my graphic novel, Ostenspieler and the Book of Faces (coming soon) is all flashback and explanation.  I managed to create a pretty decent story line set in a world different from our own over the first two issues, but in order to set up the fourth and final issue, I had to bog that third issue down with info–yes, hot-air, flatular junk.

Has anyone come across this problem?  Does anyone have some examples of writers who avoided the “fill-in’the-gaps type of plotting?

In other words, HELP!!!!!!!

writing as a spiritual exercise

In humor, life, observations, writing on June 27, 2012 at 6:20 am

I can’t say I’m religious, though I hate saying that I’m spiritual because, A. that sounds lame and B. a lot of lame people say that and C. I like to think of myself as not being lame.

But here’s the thing: I write, and I think that writing, which I love and sometimes don’t, has something to do with what most people would call spiritual.

Years ago, many many years ago, I was a violinist.  Because I’m biologically unable to do things just for fun, I was a serious violinist.  VERY SERIOUS!!  TOO SERIOUS!!!!  Which meant I sucked.  True, that through shear force of will and discipline, I became good enough to gig for a couple a years in LA.  (I played pick-up orchestra gigs, weddings, and more Bar Mitzvahs than any other gentile I know, but I wasn’t really cut out to be a musician.  I loved the the craft; I loved locking myself in a room and sawing away, but I couldn’t translate that work onto the stage.  Still, all that practicing did leave a real effect on me.  I learned what it was like to be silent, truly so, and to be comfortable with that silence.

I might have taken that impulse a little too far.  I know I stopped being friends with most people from high school because as I got serious about being a violinist, I came to believe that I had been a fraud to them.  In the solitude of my practice room, I realized I wasn’t the clown I pretended to be.  I was quiet and shy.

OK, so what the hell does this have to do with writing and spirituality?

Fifteen years after quitting the violin, I find that I get the same joy from being alone with my thoughts when writing that I once did from my time practicing.  But the difference is that as a writer, I work alone in order to connect with others.  As anyone who writes knows, this back-and-forth between the deeply private time doing the writing and the hunger for connection with others is not easy.  Especially when writing fiction, I often struggle to get in the mindset needed to write.  Sometimes, it’s almost painful to start writing because of the hunger I feel for connecting with others.  But without the alone time, that time when I have to focus on the matter at hand,  the feelings of my characters, the craft of putting words to the page, I cannot feed the hunger I feel for connection.

Sometimes, most times, I fear this struggle.  I fear the hard work it entails, I’ll be honest.  But at a deeper sense, I also fear the silence that writing requires.  Or maybe it’s better to say, that I am in awe of the power of that silence, the way I have felt looking at a storm blow in or at a huge wave crashing against rocks.  That silence is powerful, humbling, and it’s vast, and even though I fear it, I want to be in touch with it.

Is that silence God?  I don’t know.  But I can say that the words I am using to describe my sense of it are pretty similar to the words that people from another time would have used for the divine.

That is a discipline, no one will argue.  But

i’m starting a slow-blog movement…wanna join?

In humor, life, observations, Uncategorized, writing on June 5, 2012 at 6:16 am

Here in the Cali, Northern California to be specific, there’s a lot of talk about the slow-food movement, which basically means people who go somewhere to eat food that once upon a time, some loved ones would’ve cooked for them.  Because I am not a group-person, I kind of avoid movements, and San Fran is really in love with their movements.   Truth is slow food is a good thing. But it’s not a movement.

Now, I say this, but I will admit that sometimes I think SLOWness should be a movement.  I’ve said this before.  But as I’ve gotten older, I don’t feel like I’m slowing down, I feel like I’m going faster.  OK, I can’t run as fast as I could before, but mentally, I seem to keep speeding up.  When driving some place, I am already thinking of the three things I have to do after I get to where I’m going, which means I spend miles driving by beautiful things that I am not concerned with because I’m concerning myself with a near future group of events that are probably not pleasurable.  I sleep ok (when the baby allows) but sometimes I get up and start reading articles or making lists of what I want to do next.  Even as I write this post, I’m already thinking I have to get out of here and go spend time with wife and the boy, and after that, I want to work on a script because I need to get a draft done this week, and because tomorrow I need to work on the fundraiser for my GED program, and…you get the point.

It’s not that I’m busier than other people.  Most people lead busy lives.  There’s just something about how I treat my day.  Life is becoming a list of things to check off, not a day of memories.  As a fiction writer, this is no-bueno.  I know this because it can sometimes take me hours to get in the head space to tell a story.  It takes time getting to know a character. Maybe that’s why writing is hard for me and yet, so necessary for my sanity.  I need the slowness that writing affords me.

I knew this.  I’m sure all you artists know it as well.  But I was reminded of this fact by a blog I just discovered called the good bad people.  The author writes things that might be called poetry or poetical prose.  What matters, at least for me, is that reading the blog slowed me down tonight, and for that I am appreciative.

Nw just so we’re clear: I’m not saying we should go out and protest against speed.  Save your picket signs and go read something that makes you think.  Then, go write slowly or eat slowly or drive slowly, but not too slowly.  I mean, I have to get where I’m going and I don’t want to wait forever.  I have things to do.

Am I a Brand?

In life, media, observations, Uncategorized, writing on May 24, 2012 at 6:08 am

Lately, I’ve been reading a book called, Branding Yourself.  Though I am reading it with a type of excitement that a once purer, less-commecially-minded me would have reserved for a novel by the Bronte sisters, the book also fills me with a little bit of dread, which is also like the Brontes come to think of it, though for a different reason.  Erik Deckers and Kyle Lacy, the authors of the book, are very clear about what they are trying to teach: that you need to go out there and get people interested in you.  Why? You ask.  Because you are your own brand.

Really?  Am I just like this?

I don’t think so, because I’m not getting paid the way Coca-Cola is.

All joking aside, it must be in the summer air (I know it’s summer because I live in San Fran, and it’s cold) but for the rest of the northern hemisphere, it’s warm and writers are ripe with a desire to get to the next spot in their carers.  I recently discovered, Livia Ellis’ blog, which I very much recommend.  I was especially taken with her post about writing as a business.  Livia has some interesting insights into this question, and I want this and a couple following posts to be a type of dialogue. For now, let me say that I’m surprisingly excited about this whole branding thing, and yet there’s also a part of me that agrees with Joe Ponepinto at the Saturday Morning Post.  He only puts up one post a week now so as not to get so caught up in the business of getting read that he neglects the business of writing.

Joe is a wise man, and I keep his thoughts in mind as I slave over my branding statement, which is making one thing clear to me: I am not a natural at branding myself.  It’s not false modesty.  Really, it’s just a mindset thing. For me, writing fiction has always been a bit abstract–not the stories I tell or the process behind them.  The abstract part was how to get my stories read by the people who like what I write.

I’ve kept that process vague out of fear, I think.  Is there a market for what I’m offering? As a brand in the making, I need to be thinking about this even if the answer might scare me.  At the same time, as a writer, marketability is probably not a good thing to obsess about because it limits the imagination.  Who the hell knows what will catch on?  Did Mr. Coca-Cola know that some syrupy, bubbly dark liquid would become a world power? I can’t imagine he could have.

For myself, I’m not in any place to make definitive statements one way or another.  I will say that for now, I’m trying to find a way to get people aware of what I’m doing.  That’s a crazy process, and I will share it in the next post.

In the meantime, I’d love to hear from other writers about how they try to manage the needs of commerce with their own needs as writers and artists. How much time, if any, do you spend working on the business of business and how much on the business of putting words to the page?

the problem…my problem, your problem, and that guy next to you in the cafe, his problem, too…

In media, observations, Uncategorized, writers & books, writing on May 19, 2012 at 8:06 am

OK, here you go.  A way into the problem, my problem for sure, but it might be yours, too.  I’m writing this post as I listen to A Tribe Called Quest in a poorly lit cafe.  I’m surrounded by other Apple users who are working on God knows what, but I’m sure whatever IT is, IT is something that makes it possible for them to own three thousand dollar computers and not have to work in an office during a weekday.  Many of them are pasty and wearing anorexic jeans, but they are happy.  I imagine this is because they have avoided the bullet of office work. Then again, they might not know any better.  But I digress, which I probably wouldn’t be doing if I weren’t listening to Tribe and checking my email at random moments because of the amazing new app I downloaded yesterday that allows me to see who is emailing, Facebooking and Twittering me without opening a window.  Little text boxes are opening in the corner as I write these words.

On a recent post, I know I mentioned I was changing, my brain, actually, was doing the changing.  Specifically, I’m concerned with the part of my brain that comes up with stories.  I am wondering if this need for apps and the obsession I spoke about in the last post with websites themes is connected to the fact that my taste in imaginative narrative as a producer and as a consumer is changing.  Let me start this by saying that digital culture is a more visual one, by its nature.  And, as I’m going to explain in a second, I think that this connection between the digital and the visual has some deep implications for people because it has deep implications for how we tell our stories.

So here’s the problem because I kind of always believe there has to be one.

I increasingly tell stories in visual media, which is fine.  Fine except I wonder if that means that I’m giving up on staying with characters, lingering with them, finding out what they are about in the slower, more internal way that the page allows and the screen does not.  This is writerly insecurity, I’ll admit. But it’s deeper, I suspect than just a matter of aesthetics.  Different media stress different things about stories.  Or, maybe it’s better to say, different media have different weaknesses.  Some might argue with me, but generally speaking, a visual medium like film or television or even a graphic novel though to a lesser degree, cannot get you in the mind and heart of a character.  Internal conflicts have to be simplified in film because unless you have a ton of voice overs or lame-o exposition through dialogue, you have to express emotion through what one can see.  And no matter how good the script or the actor, you can’t get at the crazy twists of the human mind.  You can always use visual metaphors to help get at that craziness, but even those are up for interpretation, which mean, you might lose the viewer or confuse him.  The page is just better suited to the mazes of internal conflict.  I say this, but for the life of me, I am struggling telling stories like that.  In fact, I will admit this, I get bored with a lot of so-called literary fiction.  (By the way, I realize as I write this that I am equating literary fiction with fiction on the page, which is not cool, but let that one go for now.  I don’t know enough “genre” fiction to speak to it.)

I guess, put simply, I’m wondering if visual culture is a less human one?  Less human in the sense that its stories do not deal with what makes us most human: intention, the stuff that cannot be seen.  The stuff that one has to slow down to understand, slow down in a way that I and my apps and my compatriots here at Cafe Hipster might not have patience for.  Is that a bad thing?  Is narrative changing? I love books, but I have to say it, I’m reading a lot less fiction than ever.  As a consumer and as a producer of imaginative narrative, I’m going more and more with visual media.  And I don’t think I’m alone.

I’d be curious to have some writers/lovers of fiction discuss here.  Maybe I need some absolution for a guilty conscience over my lapsed New Yorker subscription and my new MacWorld one.  I don’t know.  Is there an absolution app?  I think someone needs to invent that. Quick.

The Harry Potter Paradox: A movie about magic that manages not to be very magical…

In observations, writers & books, writing on July 21, 2011 at 11:58 am

 

I saw Harry Potter last weekend, and though I enjoyed it, I left the theater a little sad and a lot deflated.  This feeling I had might have something to do with the fact that I was looking forward to the movie–really looking forward to it.  As in, Christmas morning, my-wife-and-I-giddily-walking-down-the-streets-of-SF-giddy.  But I’m not so cynical that I don’t believe in the possibility of having your expectations met from time to time, so I don’t think it was about inflated expectations.  I think the problem for me is that though the Harry Potter series is about magic, every time I go see one of the movies, I’m reminded of the fact that they are not very magical.  They are movies about good v. evil as that battle would take place in a world where wizards an goblins walk among us.

So what do I mean when I speak of “magical”?  Well, other vague terms spring to mind, like mystery and wonder, which I’ll try to define later, but for now, I’ll say that these words point at a comfort with that which can’t be explained or shown.  Of course, then I could say that the medium is to blame.  Can a movie, something visual, really be mysterious?  In order to become aware of something in a movie, we have to see it, right?  I guess I like not seeing everything, so maybe books are better suited to deliver the magic I’m looking for.  Though as I say that, I start thinking about another smaller movie I saw recently called Beginners.  That was a movie about people learning about themselves and about love.  It was magical even though there was nothing fantastical going on.  But there’s also Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (both versions for different reasons), which I think were magical and filled me with wonder, and both had supernatural elements.

A couple thoughts come to mind regarding both of these movies: 1. the magical can come in hyper-realistic packages.  2.  When fantastical elements are employed, I want them to highlight human nature, not fantasy.

Point 1 scares me a little.  Mainly because my writing for the past few years has centered around mixing the fantastical/supernatural with the real.  And I’m wondering if maybe that’s been a little bit of a cheat.  I’m reminded of something I read by Flanner O’Connor.  In her book, Mystery and Manners, she writes,

fiction is about everything human and we are made of dust, and if you scorn getting yourself dusty, then you shouldn’t write fiction.

I think this is why Harry and his friends left me cold, and it’s also why I think some of my own fiction, if I can be honest about it, is sub-par.  The world, described well and accurately has plenty of mystery to it.  If the story you’re telling requires overtly supernatural elements, then so be it, but the dust–not fairy dust–needs to be there, which leads to my second point.  From the Harry Potter movies at least, you get the feeling that Harry’s story is a story we’ve all heard of before–that, in and of itself, is not a bad thing.  But if you take away the magical elements, you are pretty much left with Dickens.  Still, no problem there.  But for all its spells, the movies don’t bedazzle the way Dickens does because they are kind of clunky when it comes to the emotional life of the characters.  Some might say that I’m being harsh.  That the movies are for children, and so emotional sophistication is not really necessary.  To which I say that the Harry Potter movies haven’t been kids’ movies in some time.  And even if they were, I’d counter that fiction for children should be just as emotionally sophisticated as any adult story, if not more so.  Again, I’m reminded of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, another book/movie “for kids” that was just as fantastical as Harry Potter while also being emotionally genuine and wondrous and, yes, dusty.

As a writer, I guess I should be glad about my disappointment with HP7.  Keeps me on my toes.  It makes me ask myself some hard questions about my own work.  Am I using fantastical elements to hide an uninspired story, flat characters, poorly written descriptions?  Though I’d like to think this isn’t always true with me, I know some of the work has suffered from it.  I haven’t gotten as dusty as I should.  Maybe I should let myself write something naturalistic and still try for the wondrous.  Maybe.  Or maybe, I just need to try harder to write the stories I want to write without forcing things one way or another.

In any case, seeing HP 7 has made me realize how high the stakes are.  I’m sure a lot of people won’t agree with me.  They think the movie was amazing, but for me, it just makes me sad.

There’s magic in them thar hills, and as a viewer, I want to find it.  As a writer, I want to help point readers in the right direction.  It’s hard, but I think it’s the job of a storyteller.

an older story in a new home…Week 1, Story 1

In writing on June 5, 2011 at 9:03 am

I mentioned last week that I joined a group of writers who have committed themselves to writing one short-short every week.  The blog is called 52 Stories and it is on Tumblr.  There are other pubs with that title, so below I’ve included a link..

Though I love short stories as a form, the compression required by flash fiction is working me.  It’s just hard to write a story in less than 1000 words.  At least it is for me.  But that’s neither here nor there.  Here’s the link to the first story.  51 more to go!

Enjoy.

who am I? trying to write a query letter for the first time…

In media, observations, Uncategorized, writers & books on May 29, 2011 at 10:22 am

So for the last week, I’ve been writing my query letter to agents and to indie presses about my short story collection, Real Magic Doesn’t Sell.  I’ve decided to hit up indie presses because from all the authors I have bothered over the last month with my newbie questions, the answers have been the same: story collections don’t sell for much if they sell at all, hence, agents aren’t really interested in getting involved unless you have a novel.  I do have a novel, by the way.  Or I should say I have about four versions of 2/3 of a novel (it’s new math for those of you who are confused.)

In any case, I have part of a letter done.  I don’t like writing them and that’s why it took me a month to start it.  My head starts spinning when I get to the part where I have to “interest the reader” and describe what I do.  I think of what I do as being serious fiction, but my stories often have something magical/supernatural/strange happen.  (I’m not even sure which word to use because as far as I can tell the “serious fiction” world and its denizens do not take kindly to supernatural strangeness.  From what I can tell, they relegate anything by unknown writers that isn’t straight-up realistic to the world of unicorns and ghosty stories.

Because I don’t write ghost stories or have unicorns flying around my characters’ heads, I try to avoid being placed in that company.  It’s not that I think unicrons are bad.  But a lot of so-called fantasy writers do seem a little cheesy.  The covers to their books and their websites look like the covers of Dungeon & Dragons books or Led Zeppelin albums, which looked like a lot like the covers to D&D books.  It’s just not my thing.  I like characters–normal people in the present.  That’s who I write about.  Now, if I have one of those normal people–let’s say a white man–dream that he is a Mexican woman who is having an affair with a day-laborer he’s recently hired and if that dream then blends into reality because he finds out that he is actually part of said Mexican woman’s dream, well that’s when things get sticky for me as a writer.  Because what would you call that?  I heard one author who I like say that her stuff skirts up close to bat-sh*t craziness, but I’m not sure any agent is going to appreciate that term to describe my aesthetic.

Over the last week, I’ve  found myself using words I’m not sure I understand because I’m not sure anyone else who uses them does.  I used to say Magical Realism was what I wrote, but I once had a teacher who was Latina tell me that with my last name, the term would turn people off.  Magical Realism is ok for Gabriel Garcia Marquez not for g. martinez cabrera.  Fair enough.  I don’t really want to go head to head with a master writer the first time at bat even if the label kind of fit.  At least I thought it did until my wife, in her brilliance, came up with a distinction that makes sense.  With someone like Marquez, you might have something odd/surreal happen, but then no one seems to react to it.  Whereas in my stuff, there’s usually one crazy thing that happens in an otherwise “realistic” world and that is what causes the plot to go forward.  I like my wife’s distinction, but then again, she’s brilliant.

OK, so I’m not a Magical Realist.  She said I might be a practiotioner of the Real Marvelous School.  Check out Alejo Carpentier if you want to know what she means.  Problem is that my wife is brilliant, she has a Ph. D. in Spanish Lit, so she knows Carpentier’ work.  That label only applies to him, and if you don’t know him, and English-language readers probably don’t, the label is kind of useless.  What is Borges?  Anyone have a title for him?  How about Calvino?  I’m not saying I’m a genius like those writers, but what are they?  Fabulists?  I hear that term get pushed around.  I like the sound of it.  But then again it sounds kind of heavyhanded, and am I being arrogant to take it up?  Hello, world, I AM A FABULIST!!!  I am a fabulous FABULIST!!  If I were to use that term, I think I’d need a sound system so that my voice could take on some echo and reverb like God or Charlton Heston.   Amelia Gray, one of the authors I have reached out to about query letters, said she writes “quirky fiction,” which I like.  I am quirky, and I like quirky, though on later reflection, that’s more of a description than a category.  It also kind of sounds like a euphemism for cute but not cute enough.  As in that cute guy you know who likes sitting out in the rain without a hat or umbrella as he reads fantasy stories with no unicorns or ghosts–he’s quirky.  He might be cute, but do you want to seriously get to know him?  Probably not.

So who am I as a writer?  I realize writing this that my real problem is an old one and has little to with writing.  It’s personal.  I like to be things to all people.  I like to be liked.  If you go out in the world, and you declare something about yourself, you put yourself in a box, and then people can reject you because they don’t like that box.  This makes me crazy.  The truth is that just like with friends, the people who end up sticking around do so regardless of the box you put in front of them.  A lot of people, maybe most people, will walk away and leave you unopened, but you only need a few people to stick around and get to know what’s inside.  In this case, I guess I only really need one agent or one publisher.  Still, I’m uneasy.

I guess in the end, I am a story teller.  Simple enough.  A little serious, a lot bat-sh*t crazy, and hopefully a good bit fabulous.

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