A Thousand Words A Day

A writing journal _____________________________ PROFESSORBLOG@HOTMAIL.COM

writing: _ Christian Writers _ _ NaNo _

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Location: Columbus, Ohio, United States

Reader, writer, podcast listener, and TV watcher. And real nice guy.

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

Working my way through the book "Rejected: The Chronicles of a Failed Writer" by Jack Harris Adlor. It is pretty amazing, though certainly it is also disturbing and painful. Adlor wrote a journal over the ten years that he was trying to submit stories and novels to agents and magazines. The entire irony of the story is that the only thing that Adlor ever published was this book, the chronicle of his failures as a writer. It is a little mind blowing, but once you get your mind around that fact it is pretty enjoyable. No let me take that back, enjoyable it most certainly is not. But what it is, is enlighening. I always like these behind the scenes sort of things, so I buy all of the Book Notes books and watch that show on C SPAN. I love the creative life and I love hearing about it and learning about it, and most of what is out there is from people who have successfully mastered it, or at the very least, have nad some success at it. This book is one of the rare opportunities to get an insight into the life of the unsuccessful creative person. It is again an odd scenario, but reading Adlor's thoughts and his doubts and his highs and hig lows was quite an enlightneing experience.

He clearly has emotional issues, which I think most creative folk do. Something about that tortured artist, or as Todd Rundgren mocked in the title of an album, "The Ever Popular Tortured Artist Effect." What I can learn from this is that you have to tap emotion to write, which actually Adlor does not do. His most passionate writing seems to be in the journal and not the fiction. He disses the idea of writing non-fiction early in the book . early is his career, but it may be what he is best at. There are excerpts of some of his work in the book, both of the unsuccessful works and the ones that were published. He did have a few stories accepted and published. What I learned from the book was the polite way to deal with editors and agents, some of which he did right and some of which he did most definitely wrong. Some of his letters were mean spirited and vengeful and spiteful, none of which are good examples of emotions to pour into letters to editiors. Into fiction most certainly, but letters to agents and magazine editors? No, I do not think so.

I also think that I am a better writer than Adlor. None of his excerpts jumped out at me as emotional or quality or awesome or even more than a little bit better than some of the stuff I write. They were not exceptional in almost any way, at best there was one laugh and there was one moment when I had to say "hmmmm." But in as many excerpts as there were in the book, that is not a very long list of impressive moments. So I got out of it the feeling that i have a shot, and that I am organized enough to keep track of my submissions and agent solicitations, which Adlor does well. I like those kind of stats, and they are interspersed throughout the book nicely. I am not sure about the depth of the sriting in terms of emotional carriage, but I think I can come close. I hope that my personal life is better than his, or at least that I feel better about mine than he does about his, but either way I know that emotion is part of process and needs to be part of the output. The one thing I will not do . .. or that at least at this point I do not foresee me ever doing . . . is quitting work to write full time. At least not until I am successful. I am being productive enough in my mind, in terms both of the quality and the quantity of my output, to fit it in to the work scheduel. And let us bbe honest right here and right now, the job I have is not exactly the most time consuming one that there is. So I do have time, and I do not need to quit in order to devote myself to qriting. Plus, I like my job, but that is a rant for another day, or maybe just a rant for another blog. For being confident enough to actually commit to wriitng, Adlor did not seem confident enough about the actual stuff that he wrote. I also think that I have a better feel for the mechanics and the structure of what publishable fiction is. Adlor seems ot have no idea what a plot or a story is, or haw to develp characters. But he can still figure out how to get eight hundred pages down on paper. How can that be done? I have no idea, and I do not think I will ever fall into that trap of writing and writing and writing and getting a whole bunch of quantity with nothing to it. Even this blog is a problem . . . if I don't have anything to write, I just won't write. So in this blog I have to figure out what to write and learn how to write. And insofar as that goe, I think I have a shot at success that Adlor did not have.


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