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“On the New York Times Bestseller List!, I Want to Be _________”

Sitting here gazing out from my vantage point on the cul-de-sac in the middle of nowhere, I find it hard to believe I once had a literary agent. In fact, I once had a few literary agents wanting me to sign with them. Crazy? Yes. But it’s proof that persistence pays off.

At the time I was working as a grunt in the publishing industry. It’s amazing the inspiration you find living on barely enough money to pay your rent AND buy spaghetti noodles for dinner. Plus, typing out the payment requests for authors and illustrators every day reminded me that other people were, every minute of every day, fulfilling their dreams of becoming published.

Somehow, I was inspired by my living situation at the time and became 100% committed to writing a humorous book about my experiences in New York. I worked on that manuscript day and night, which is easy to do when you have no kids, and can’t afford a social life beyond the obligatory pint of beer after work. My manuscript came together quickly because I wrote it with passion. Things are easy to do when you enjoy them. One day it was finally finished. I then dutifully studied how to write the perfect pitch letter, and found suitable agents to query. Suddenly, agents wanted to read my manuscript. I couldn’t believe my luck when one day I received two letters from agents wanting to represent my work! Here, I, low man on the publishing assistant totem pole, was now having to decide between two literary agents.

One agent had his own literary agency, and the other agent was really an agent’s assistant at an international entertainment agency. I went with the agent who owned his own agency, and in good faith signed on. Unfortunately, the plans he had for my book coincidentally “inspired” the publication he showed my idea to. Two months later my book idea was a featured story on their magazine cover. I learned the hard way about copyrighting – and how you can’t copyright “inspiration.” Sigh. Life goes on. I was never able to reach my agent by phone again, but a few weeks after the magazine with my story idea came out he left me a scratchy and vague voice mail saying he was in Los Angeles. Whatever that was supposed to mean.

Fast forward to recent times. My fears of making more mistakes with my writing and the publishing industry – and knowing my belief in the good of people doesn’t always work well in the business world – stayed with me for years. I had writer’s constipation. I had many ideas, and started many books, but then with no end in sight I would let them fizzle out. All because of a fear that I’d make another naive mistake and get taken advantage of. Then along came Joyce Carol Oates.

My writing career was revived earlier this year, thanks to some words of wisdom from Joyce Carol Oates. I don’t remember the specific words, because I read them on a blog and didn’t memorize them. But her words stayed with me and haunted me and sank into my brain until I was convinced she was right. This was my green light to go forward with writing again.  She said something along the lines that if she had to give advice to new writers she would tell them to start with blogging. It is a way to find your audience, to fine tune your writing and get quick feedback on your work. So, I started this blog. And she was right. She was RIGHT. SHE WAS RIGHT!

In all my life’s ups and downs I have been so inspired by the bloggers here on WordPress. There is endless creativity out there, and an audience for everyone’s voice. I usually never know what to write about, but somehow the words show up. They always say to “Write what you know!” But that is hard to narrow down, and really not helpful. The freedom to write here on my blog without judgement, expectation or limits is what helps me color outside the lines.

I often get confused on what “humor” writing really is. Why are there two categories of humor that agents represent: Humor: Non-Fiction and Humor: Fiction? What is the difference? If I write about my experiences but embellish, or change the names to protect the innocent is it now fiction? These are the little details that lead to procrastination and a cobwebbed keyboard. I was so frustrated by this question that one time I asked a literary agent in an online discussion forum what the difference between these two categories was. I received a snarky and condescending answer in return. And I still didn’t know the difference between the two. Sigh, again.

I’ve recently been hit with a lightning bolt of an idea. One of those “Of course!” moments of what would be a fun and interesting writing project to take on. And taking a chance on writing is always a good gamble….it’s free! Which is good in this economy. Starting today I’ve created an outline of something that perhaps I might finish. And send off to some agents. And hopefully get published. And if I’m published, I damn well better get on the New York Time’s Bestseller List. No pressure, if you know what I mean.

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Previous Post

I had to take down my previous post for privacy reasons. After being contacted by a few concerned friends, I knew this was not the right time for this post. Thank you all for your thoughts, comments, wishes, support and so on.  And if you don’t know what I’m talking about…good.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – the WordPress community offers support unlike any that I ever knew could exist in an online environment where most people are anonymous. You are all amazingly wonderful and encouraging.

Thank you.

All Shook Up

Hello All,

I started this blog two months ago as a way for me to vent and be creative in a completely anonymous space. I never had complete anonymous freedom before, and I’ve found it to be amazing and cathartic beyond all my hopes.

However, I never really thought down the road about what I’d do someday if I ever wanted someone I knew to read this blog. I figured this would be my anonymous playground for years to come. But, as an aspiring published AND PAID writer*…I realized that sooner or later my baby, “Fortyteen Candles,” would have to see the light of day to those who knew me.

Two weeks ago I sent my blog link to two very old friends of mine (not old like ancient, but old as in I knew them back before there was “the internet” old). Anyway, they both read my blog and were completely supportive and wonderful. I felt a great relief that I could start being true to my thoughts and feelings, and also be confident that these were being well-received by an audience that included people who really knew me. I know I haven’t divulged any great secrets here, but I was hoping that I could kind of do that someday. And even better, I wouldn’t have to listen anymore to that obnoxious internal editor who mocks me every time I think I’m about to write.

Fast forward to the modern day…aka two weeks later. I’ve dreaded posting on this blog. I’ve had the internal editor pop up and CENSOR my thoughts on everything I wanted to write about. For every idea I came up with all I would hear is “That’s stupid!” or “Boring!” or “Too personal!” Yuck! This has been like fighting off the flu. I know I have to keep fighting back these negative vibes or my blog will ultimately die.

So today I thought I’d purge all of this out of my system. I’m fighting  back the best way I know how – I’m writing an essay. P.S. This is the essay. I sent my internal editor out to Walmart to try to find something made in the USA, so I know I have some time to work in peace.

My vow is to forget who knows about my blog, and not care who might read it. I still intend to write whatever is on my mind with complete freedom of the WordPress. So, if I come up with a few more essays than I have in the past please realize it is a medical necessity for the health and well-being of “Fortyteen Candles.”

Whew! Thanks for listening. I’m feeling a little stronger now. My blog is feeling a little better, too.

(* more on this another day)

Wahoo!! Twenty-Eight Amazing People Are Now Following My Blog :)

I would like to say thank you to all the people from around the world who have taken the time to read my blog, “Fortyteen Candles.” My work just a collection of my personal vents that are created by my stifled existence living as an aging Gen X-er in a self-important small town.

Please know that as soon as I receive a “like” or “follower” notification I immediately check out that person’s blog. I am so blown away by the creativity and originality of my fellow bloggers here on WordPress. You are all a real inspiration to this fledgling newbie.

Thanks, again, for your support. You’ve been so inspiring and encouraging! My goal at this time is to have even a fraction of the dedication to blogging that you all have shown.

Insert a Little Hometown Pride HERE!

I just received a notification from WordPress containing incredible news of a magnitude unheard of before today. My “Fortyteen Candles” blog now has a record-breaking 25 “likes.” Furthermore, “Fortyteen Candles” has an amazing group of 15 people following!

I appreciate and thank you all for your interest and support. And, of course, your good taste!

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