Tuesday, December 30, 2008

THE EIGHT FINGERED CRIMINAL'S SON

I am a writer. It's been an awfully long time since I've had an audience - something like nine years. Thank you for being my audience.

The truth is I’ve been a writer just about as long as I’ve been able to hold a pencil. My literary journey began with Santa Clause and Mike the Mouse. I wrote, directed and starred in the production in second grade. It was an action packed rip off of the Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer Christmas special. As Mike the Mouse, I saved Christmas by beating the snot out of the Abominable Snow man, who was played quite nicely by Prank Ponto. It was cool. My next big production was staged in fifth grade. It was my own epic rendition of a Catholic School Passion Play. Playing the Thomas the Apostle, I led the ten good apostles in a heroic military style rescue of Christ, killing a half dozen Roman soldiers in the process.

Since grade school, I've continued to write. There was a thrilling four year period over which I had the honor of creating cheesy educational TV programming, which was, I suppose, an offshoot of my elementary school theater career. At Educational Management Group and Planet Think, I wrote, produced and hosted (starred in) the shows. It all ended when we were bought out by a British Educational Company. They shut the live production end of the outfit down, thus bringing to an end the best job I ever had. It was back to classroom teaching for me. Thanks a lot British people. If it weren't us, you'd all be speaking German. Shoot, there goes my vast British following.

About four years ago, I decided I wanted to get serious about writing. Rather than teach summer school and work second jobs to earn money to support my family, I've been spending the summers and school breaks writing. The first summer was trying to say the least. Because I didn't have a functioning computer, I wrote at the public library, braving knuckle heads on cell phones, screaming kids, and chatty teenagers. It's better now that I have a computer.

The product of that first summer is collection of short quirky personal stories called The Eight Fingered Criminal's Son. My father did in actuality spend considerable time in the slammer and does indeed have just eight fingers. Actually, that's a point of personal contention. Doesn't everyone have just eight fingers - and two thumbs? Perhaps I should call the book The Six Fingered Criminal's Son. How do describe a guy with two missing fingers? It's confusing, isn’t it?

I intend to share a few of the stories with you. I'd also like to take you with me on the path of soul shattering rejection. After being rejected by more than a hundred agents and magazines, I put the collection of stories on the back burner and wrote a novel. I'll tell you about the novel tomorrow. Sending query letters by US mail has pretty much become a thing of the past. Now writers can send off email query letters - hundreds of them, thousands of them. Now this is a good thing and this is bad thing. Writers save money and time, but the agents and publishers are inundated. An agent told me she receives more than three thousand query letters a month. At this point, no less than two hundred agents and publishers have sent me rejection emails.

Here is an example of an oxymoronic good rejection email. The errors are the editor's, not mine...

Bill, thanks for the submission. What I'd do to this in compress it a bit. The folksy voice is distracting, in the end. It's not a bad story, overall, but it needs significant tightening to keep a reader's attention. We'll have to pass, but try us again in the future.

I really hate rejection…

2 comments:

beFrank said...

You should get a secret agent. Yeah and call him by a code name, like maybe "Condor" or something.

#167 Dad said...

I'm in. Do you know any?
Thanks for fixing my counter.