Hoops is Life

So I get this email Friday afternoon.

The tag line, you know, the one that shows just a few of the first lines of the complete text says:

"Your novel "Selfie" has passed . . . "

And I procede to flip (the %#@$) out.

If you've been following along for a while, you probably know that this time last year I got a little fed up with playing bars and nightclubs and I decided to take a radical new direction with whatever time I have left during my mid-life crisis and do . . . well . . . something.

I made a list of all the things I would like to do, which turned out to be very short. I wanted to have a better stage show, and I wanted to write a book.

How hard could that be?

Not hard . . . really . . . I mean . . . digging ditches is hard . . . growing tomatoes in rocky soil when the outside temperature is above 100 degrees from May to October is nigh impossible . . . putting lots of words together . . . hell . . . I do that every time I open my stupid mouth.

I was, however, thoroughly unprepared for how unprepared I was.

Not naive.


See . . . even though my hubris is comfortable in proclaiming itself as a capable writer . . . at best I could describe myself as an essayist . . . not a novelist. I write in short bursts from a singular point of view, most often with ideas that came to me in the shower about fifteen minutes before I sit down to write. My style is all wrong.

Since it's important that one begin with writing what one knows (or at least what one thinks about a lot), I wanted to encapsulate all the things I've been learning about social media, how internet life is contorting actual life, what the internet experience is doing to the psychology of us and our children, what it means for the modern family, and how ridiculous modern mental health has become.

Oh . . . and with all that change . . . how nothing has really changed.

So I dreamt up this character, a millennial (my step-son's age) who gets sort of quashed between her online queen-bee persona and the frailties of actual life.

Sounds kinda cool.

To me anyway.

But I had absolutely no story.

Like none.

So I did what all good artists do . . . I cheated . . . I stole . . . I ran to my Shakespeare library and adapted.

She . . . the millennial . . . wasn't a new character at all. But who is she? Well . . . she just a person trying to deal with parents, friends, lovers, her own self, and of course, the ghost in the machine.

Sound familiar?

Of course it does.

She's Hamlet.

So now I've got it all going. I've got modern character, in a classic story, a scene by scene outline, and a narrative that fits my short bursts creativity, and a whole slew of characters to keep me from being stuck with a single voice.

Now . . . if you think that's cheating . . . go ahead. But I will remind you that Hamlet is actually an adaptation of another play . . . and if a genius like Shakespeare has no compunction with lifting some one else's words . . . that a novice like me shouldn't either. His name is on the title page along with mine. No one is fooled.

Except . . . maybe I fooled myself.

I expected it to be readable on the second draft.

It wasn't.

Neither was the third or fourth.

The fifth was where it became a book.

The seventh is where it's at now.

And where it's at now is sitting on an editor's desk waiting a final decision for the possible go ahead to write and eighth, ninth, and tenth, version before publication actually begins.

Which brings me back to Friday's email and after I preceded to flip out.

The full text of the email said my novel has passed the second round of panel reading, and I will be contacted directly by the editor with rejection or acceptance.

That's great news right?

Of course it is. It's freakin awesome.

Only . . . I didn't even know there was a second round. Again with the being unprepared for how unprepared I am, because it makes perfect sense that there be a lot of screening before a manuscript gets handed to a person who lives day to day with career making/breaking decisions.

They can't have their time wasted with bad novels.

And I am now on the "not a bad novel" short list.

That's the good news.

That bad news is that there are hoops that I am still going to be jumping through that I don't even know about yet . . . which . . . when you think about it . . . isn't bad news at all.

It's just life.

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