joni abilene

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Month: April, 2014

Playing with Lucy

One thing about querying is the loss of power a person feels. I never play the lottery because the odds are against me winning anything other than the dollar I just spent. Querying feels the same way. Occasionally I’ll muster up enough confidence to submit with a positive outcome in mind, but all that confidence is destroyed the second another rejection rolls in. I turn into Charlie Brown, always running after that football.

I’m teaching myself the ins and outs of self-publishing so I can reclaim a little bit of that lost power. There’s nothing worse than forever holding onto a book when you know it has a place in the world, but the gatekeepers won’t give you a break. One of my favorite authors self-publishes, and while I don’t know the monetary gain, if any, of her endeavors, I do know she’s damn good and I am extremely glad she had the nerve to go forward regardless of an agent’s approval. I’m using her as an example of someone who puts it out there and lets it go.

So, I’m learning to format and edit down to the bone. I’m also designing a cover. If a lucky break comes in and I get the chance to be published, of course my answer will be yes. But for now it feels good to step forward, instead of back.

The real lessen here is: never say never. It’s cliche, but true. Never say never. I guess in a way, Charlie Brown is the eternal optimist, always racing after that ball when he knows damn well he’ll never hit it. I kind of love him for that. We should all be like Charlie. We should all hope for the best.

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Pushing Through

Have you ever felt like everything you identify with, love, desire and live for is on the edge of a diving board, and you’re tiptoeing across, trying so desperately not to upset the balance? That’s me right now. I’m a positive person. I wake up every day and hope for the best, do my best, and then at the end the day I look back with acceptance of both failure and accomplishment. Right now everything is so unbalanced, but I haven’t given up yet. I will never give up. The problem is, I might have to delay due to financial stress.

Oh life. I’ve been sighing so much lately. I don’t even mean to do it. Deep sighs from out of nowhere.

This summer I was going to write a book about Alice Prin, aka Kiki de Paris. She was lover of Man Ray, among others in the golden days of Montparnasse in Paris, early 20th century. For decades I’ve loved and dreamed about her, hoping to write a novelization of her life, but I might have to wait until I have more stability and money. I need to buy books about her, I need time to write, I need to be able to take care of my kids, live, eat—you get the idea. There’s this heaviness in my chest and tightness in my throat. Money. Money. Stupid, stupid money. I’ve been trying to find an agent for my current novel, Woman in Love, but it’s hard. Sounds great. I love the spunk. Not for me. I’ll pass. I wrote Woman in Love because it was exactly what I would pick up at any library or bookstore. I wanted desperately to write a novel about a woman whose life changes after reading The Hite Report. No one else was writing about it, why not me? I’m also a connoisseur when it comes to the 70’s. If you look up the 70’s in the dictionary, you might find a picture of me, such is my love and knowledge and compete saturation of the decade.

Sometimes . . . I feel like that little doll on the Island of Misfit Toys. Doesn’t anyone want my book, or me? Am I that hideous? An author once told me, after reading the first chapter of Woman in Love, that it was good and that I was a good writer. She said she’d read more if I had more. I’ve held onto her words, cherished them. Was I a fool to believe? Oh no, now I sound like Patrick Swayze.

I hope I can find a way to push through, to write that novel ALICE. I hope for world peace, and sometimes I wish Friday Night Videos would come back. Is that so wrong?

Workin’ on a Pitch

Johnny Cool is the hottest DJ in LA. He plays what he wants and the money’s rolling in. That is, until he says ‘twat’ on air. You wouldn’t think one stupid word could ruin a man’s life, but ‘twat’ (twat, twat, twat) gets him fired, and soon he’s on the street, and he ain’t Johnny Cool anymore, he’s Johnny Nobody. First he finds Marci, the sexy good luck charm. She’ll get him through. Nope. She’s got a nose to feed and boyfriends all over town. Johnny knows that scene too well. He knows how it ends. He drives. He’s used to driving. Didn’t he drive all the way from Kansas to LA when he was a kid? Two hitchhikers wearing white gowns want a ride. They’re headed to the New Distinction. One’s called Luna, the other Stardust. They really dig Johnny. They dig him so much they want him to joint the cult. But if it ain’t one cult, it’s another. The whole fucking world’s a cult. Johnny drops them off in Joshua Tree and hits the road looking for towers. Anyone who needs a voice, a pitchman, a nomad with good taste in Rock and nothing else left to lose . . .

Pondering What I’ve Read

A few weeks ago I finished The Last Picture Show, which I had previously attempted but with too many  life interruptions. This time, no interruptions, and I delved right into the story. If you’ve ever read it you know exactly what I mean when I say parts of it were disturbing, but disturbing because of the honesty. The book is about a small town, but more than that, sex. Everything is sex. I’m no stranger to writing about it, but I have to say McMurtry didn’t dodge any part of the subject. Sometimes it left me open-mouthed, and other times I was sick to my stomach, forced to put the book down.

Being from Kansas, I’ve heard stories hinting at possible man-to-animal interaction. That’s all I’ll say. It was horrible to read. I’ll admit, I had to skim over that part. Later I understood the author’s intentions. He managed to separate Sonny from the rest of the boys by showing he had a good head and heart. Some people would retract that opinion when he goes off and has an affair with the coach’s wife, but at the same time she needed mercy, and he provided it.

Then there’s Jacy, who doesn’t want to be like her mother, but can’t help it. Her sexual progress was truthful and sad. I wanted her to escape the same cloth of womanhood, but it wrapped around her because she had inherited a similar, dangerous, beauty.

It’s a difficult book to read. I grew up in a small town and know the suffocating, watched feeling. The same people who have your back, are wielding invisible knives. They go to church and say prayers—they pray for you—but they don’t want to know you or love you. And in the end, their religious perversion is almost the same as any kind.

In The Last Picture Show you sense the hollowness of being part of something decayed long before it could understand itself. It’s an important book.

So now I’ve moved on to Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast and Bukowski’s Post Office. Two completely different books, but they’re keeping me entertained.