‘ve mentioned before the sad story of my professional literary arch. If you don’t recall it, let’s do it again. It’s a tale near and dear to my heart.
Anyway, had an agent who placed Fire and Bronze with a publisher. Everything was going great. Had the final proofs in. Looking on their site, they were already putting out information about my book, billing me as their “rising star of historic fiction”. Wonderful! My agent noted that they wanted more historical fiction from me and so I started putting together Wenamon, a project I had a real interest in. It was a gem of a historic tale, one that would be wonderful and funny and sad and exciting, all in one go. Plowed into that, and even had an idea of a series bubbling in my head. A quarter of the novel was prepped, I forwarded it to the agent to send over for a first review by the publishers, and I was getting photos from friends of my book apprearing on store shelves. Exciting times.
But I didn’t hear back about Wenamon. And I didn’t seem to be getting royalties. So I posted my agent. Posted him again. Finally called.
Found out the publisher – it was a small house – had died in a traffic accident on the way to his synagogue. And the publishing house was going bankrupt. An all the titles were being sold off. And I was out in the cold.
Horrible, yes, but I’d still archived my goal – still made it to the shelves (for free, dammit).
The reason I recount this tale is that I was having lunch with an old friend the other day, a musician who drifted down to Mexico and took up with various bands there, traveling about, playing small gigs, trying to find a place for himself in the world. He told me (and, B, forgive me if I tell this wrong) that he suffered pretty much the same fate. His band had contacted a record company down there to happily find that the record company was aware of them and interested in them. Happy days! My friend was on the way! He was going to be a ROCK STAR!!!!!
And then there was some sort of currency hemorrhage, one of those artificial things governments sometimes do. The economy went south – poof – and the label went bankrupt. And there my friend stood with a handful of cooling dreams and not a peso from the deal.
He’s still in music (and I’m still in writing) maneuvering around on the edges, doing it for a little money and for the love of it. Because that’s what artists do. Sure, only one in a hundred artists ever make anything like a living at this. The world is fell of people selling paintings in coffee houses, busking at curbside, self-publishing books and flogging YouTubes. It’s what we do. If you are an artist and you gauge yourself by anything other than the pleasure it brings you, you are actually a merchant, trying to take raw material and convert it to money. That’s not to say that artists don’t seek success, money and fame in their efforts. No, not at all – I’d love the limos, the signings, the movie deals and the groupies. But wishing is one thing, producing is another. And that’s what we do – we keep the creative spirit alive and keep our vision high, trying to combine personal and societal success.
Keep at it. If only for the sake of “it”!