Kindness and Weakness

It happens. One act performed out of the goodness of ones own heart but later used against them.The equivalent of offering your hand to shake and the recipient offering you their ass to kiss. Why do we as people do this? 

      Some people do feel that being kind or amiable in many ways constitutes a weakness or failing. I submit to the court–not always. Because I truly believe that there are many many people out there that engage in acts of kindness, sweetness, amiability and empathy out the goodness of their heart.  The same people society, many times, labels as the underdog are often some of the most successful people. Was Clark Kent not looked at as the wimp that Lois Lane overlooked for so long? Was David Banner not a kind hearted scientist (though I’m not sure if changing into the Hulk could be considered a success, but you sure wouldn’t consider him weak.)

     So, back in the real world. There are survival instincts in each of us that are available whenever we need them. And some think of only the opportunity to pounce on others that may be considered kind or weak. I try to give offers of kindness through my day and sometimes it is met with kindness in return, other times–well let’s just say, slowing down to let someone pass you on the road may just get you a middle finger.

     I know, that’s life. I just think that some people forget kindness far to often. And in effect, make it difficult for others. Kindness is not a prerequisite for stupid, or allowing someone to walk all over you. And I think the challenge evolves in learning how to live with a kind heart but not allowing the word, weakness, about you, to be true.  It is okay to be nice to others, even when they are not to you.   . . .  hey, I didn’t say it was easy!   Thoughts?   

 

The Closed Door

Tags

, ,

I’ve recently posted about “My Francine,” part of the anthology of stories entitled “Ghosts” written by myself and friends of the Houston Writers Guild. And I’ve recently handed several copies of the book to family and friends. Many of which knew of no such creature, but they appeared delighted and supportive. I had only shared my passion with a select few. Why? I think in some pretentious way, that if I did share with certain ones that my love for writing would’ve been judged, sentenced and executed before I’d finished the editing process. I wasn’t sure if my anxious heart could take that. And so, the Francine’s and many other short stories remained for the longest, my dirty little secret. But I think I’ve gotten better because of it. I think the manuscript is better because of it. I was able to write what I felt without the outside worlds influence over what I said or didn’t say. And I know the whole spill about rejection (been there, still there) and literary criticisms, and how an author has to have thick skin, bippitboppityboo. But it wasn’t about others confidence in me, it was about growing the confidence in myself.

In his book, “On Writing”, Stephen King cautioned that the first draft of a work of fiction should be for the creative side of the author and the door should remain closed.  I think that’s just what I did.  It’s like finding diamonds in your back yard, no one has to know you have them until you say so. So I set to finishing the work that I knew deep down in my heart that I could do. For me that closed door was important, even though, it came at the expense of some people close to me not being aware of what I was up to,  until after it was finished and published. Some say the writer writes for him/her self first, and then, with the reader in mind. I think that this is true. And as writers, at whatever level, we have to find new ways to feed that passion inside us, and hope to produce good copy. In my opinion, most great things happen when the creator of it was just beginning. The creator was hungry, and excepted nothing less from themselves than greatness. None of this is to say that I’ve done anything great in My Francine or that I’ve jumped some major hurdle for all mankind. However, I did jump hurdles for myself just by actually completing  the manuscript. That felt good. Hell, who am I kidding, it felt great! But it started with the door closed, and a brawl with my imagination that grew into a beautful waltz, with the door open. Any other experiences on how you write, please, I would love to hear about them. 

Ghost’s Anthology

It’s finally here! Ghost’s the anthology, and my short story “My Francine” page 153 is in print and available from Ingram books, or Aaken Baaken & Kent publishers. She’s a beauty and I haven’t stopped carrying the book around under my arm.  Yeah!!  All the stories in the anthology are awesome. Really good cozies. If you get a chance go check it out.

Thanks

My FIrst Contract

I thought today would be a good day to write about my very first book contract. It turned out to be quite an interesting experience. Bear in mind, I refer to the publisher vaguely, to protect the innoncent (namely me). Anyway, I had reached out to a certain publisher that called themselves, a traditional publisher. I sent in my manuscript which at the time was about three hundred pages (and not Really ready, as I have now learned from my own battered experience). Several weeks later I recieved UPS delivery. The driver knocked on the door and then vanished into thin air the way most UPS guys do. (You just see the rear end of that big brown truck tearing out of the neighborhood) 

But I looked down and saw a fairly large package laying over the threshold of the door. I picked it up and read it. It was for me. And it was from aforementioned, Traditional( wink, wink) publishing company. I was surprised to be recieving any communication back from them, so early, anyway. But I sat down on my overstuff couch and lowered the volume on the television( I think I had been  watching Desperate Housewives or something similar).

But I was excited and my heart began to beat fast. It was because I thought I had an idea of what was inside the package. So, I tore the seal on that puppy and plucked out its contents.

It was a small packet of papers, bound together on each side with small white stickers and stamped on the front with a gold seal, denoting the publishers symbol. One loose page had fallen to the couch beside me and so I picked it up and read it.

     It was an offer letter from the publisher, signed by the president of the company and the acquisitions editor. And the packet was a contract for my manuscript–Grand Rouge.  I was ecstatic.  I think it was probably the closest I’d come to a heart attack since I was twelve and we first got HBO.

I danced around for awhile, excited, trying to call my wife and inform her of the great news. But I couldn’t get her on the phone. Finally, I calmed enough to sit down and read over the contract (Did I mention, my first contract?). After I’d read a little further into the fine print, I felt my heart dropping further and further into my stomach. The contract I was being offered was not for the publishers  “Traditional” guidelines, but for the it’s “Vanity publishing” guidelines.

    What the hell?

     It stated that I would be signed under contract and if I paid said amount toward marketing and publication, then the publisher would pay the rest. Mind you, said amount, for me anyway was well over the household budget. Besides that, I felt the manuscript deserved traditonal publishing.

Now granted I have nothing against the Vanity publishing route. There are some good ones out there and I hear that some people have benefited from them greatly. But it was just not for me. I actually wanted the thrill of someone wanting my project and willing to take the risks of traditional publishing. I was heartbroken but I still felt energized in many ways. Because to me, though the contract did not give me what I wanted, it still told me that my writing showed some promise. And that, friends, was the biggest take away for me. Any other experiences out there, that you’re not too, shy to tell us about, I’d loved to hear them.  Thanks

The Critical Critique

I had an interesting critique session today, plenty of good feedback on my latest novel “Sheila: Quest for the Golden Sapphire”. As always some like it, others not so much. And maybe that’s putting it lightly. Some loathe it. Of course, I’m part of a  more mature and classy group, whom in their own widely varied and culturally diverse way, find many ways to communicate effectively( even if they find a particular literary performance less than acceptable.) I think the critique, be it weekly, monthly or whenever is that training ground for writers–new and published. It’s like the sparring partner in boxing. Pounding against the fighters over and over until the body is so thoroughly hardened that it’s ready for the much anticipated big fight. For the writer, the big fight is when his/her manuscript lands on the desk of a potential agent or editor. Stop the training too early and your bound be knocked out quickly. But stay persistent, and keep the training you may last long enough to win the fight. I appreciate my critique group. Those that like my work and those who don’t. I personally believe that they can make the difference in a writers career. Whether its a good or bad difference is up to the writer.    

Hello world!

Hello world! My very first post and I think I’m in love–with the writing . . . of course, lets keep things in perspective. But I am excited about sharing the journey with my fateful readers. And even if you’re not a constant on the site, hopefully you can take something away that will enrich your day. Everyone is welcome, because we will explore life through fiction and enjoy the trek (especially for my fellow writers out there) to publication and one day, maybe, if I pray and eat my veggies, best-sellerdom.

Welcome all,

Shawn