Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Nothing Ventured; Nothing Gained

In my December 13 posting I explained that the Crown editor Jane Meara asked me to cut in half the 44,000 words of Dulcy’s manuscript by concentrating on the relationship between the two of us. Immediately I ruthlessly rid the manuscript of superfluous incidents. Of course, being a hoarder of words, I pasted everything I cut into a separate document.
            The being published hoopla ebbed by the spring of 1993. That summer I tried to create another manuscript from the happenings I’d cut. The ideas I tried out left me with a story that had no suspense; no glue holding it together.
            Then I came up with the idea of Dulcy using these deleted stories to teach other felines how to find bliss. The material easily divided itself into twelve instructive lessons for cats. I followed each of these with a reflection for humans.
            Jane Meara, however, turned down the manuscript. “There’s no thread holding it together,” she said. “No drive compelling me to read beyond the first story.” Since then, I’ve tried unsuccessfully to find an agent interested in the manuscript. No go.
            This July, twenty years will have passed since Crown offered me a contract for Dulcy book. During that time, I’ve written three other cats books—one with my sister-in-law—but I’ve been unable to drum up interest in them. So I’m at a standstill.
            Perhaps the thing to do is to make e-books out of them. I’m not sure. Promoting an e-book takes more technical know-how then I have. So this year will see me making a final effort to find an agent to represent my work.
            In these intervening years, I’d done some work for hire. That is, I was paid a fee to write books for which I received no royalty. Capstone, a children’s publishing house in Mankato, Minnesota, hired me to write twenty-four books for primary learners.

            Twelve of the books explain the work of community helpers.

            Four explore the nature of oceans, mountains, rain forests, and deserts. I wrote these books using my first name (Anna) and my mother’s maiden name (O’Mara).

            Eight describe the workings of vehicles like trucks, school buses, and motorcycles.

            In addition, I wrote two books for middle graders on the Revolutionary War: one on the Boston Massacre and one on the Battle of Yorktown.

            Also, in the past twenty years, I’ve completed a novel on first-century Palestine and the first third of a novel on Bronze-Age Greece. Both required months of research, much of which I promptly forgot. Finally, I’ve written a first draft of a novel about four ex-nuns.
            From 1984 to 2001, I earned my living as a freelance editor and curriculum developer and wrote my own manuscripts by setting aside an hour each morning. Since 2001, I’ve taken on one or two freelance projects a year. But as I explained in a December posting, I now want to concentrate solely on my own writing. While writing, I’ll look for an agent to represent my work. I’ve never succeeded with this before but I continue to believe “Nothing ventured; nothing gained.”
            It’s time to start again and to discover if, at the age of 75, I can become the “Grandma Moses” of books. She was 78 when her art was discovered. Perhaps, I, too, might find success in my seventies. If not, then I’ll simply enjoy the craft of placing one word by another and creating a cadence that entices the mind and the heart into the lyrics of a story.
            That is enough. It is more than enough


  1. I love your last two sentences. It is the craft of writing that I love, being read is a blessing, but it's the process that draws me in over and over again.

    There are many examples of late bloomers who've added so much to the world. Even participating at this level adds something, I believe.

  2. YOU are AMAZING! Anytime you need a beta reader, I'm your girl :0) I love your writing and am so glad to know you. Look at all of your accomplishments! I hope I'll have written that much some day :)

  3. I love your wide and varied experience with writing. You truly are in love with words and wordcraft and I wish you luck on finding an agent. I have struggled with whether or not to publish my own work electonically and stumbled on the technical aspects of it, too, but I am discovering that finding an agent/publisher leads me down that ugly path of needing outside validation when what I truly want is just to write and share my words.

    Best of luck.

  4. My maiden name (what I consider my real name) is O'Mara. I think it was originaly O'Meara, but that is just hearsay. My grandfather took the "O" off so he could get a job in Boston (no Irish need apply times). My mother put the "O" back. Was your mother from MA?

  5. Another here who loves your conclusion, Dee. If only hard work and dedication to the craft of writing were enough to find you that agent. Unfortunately I think a lot of luck is involved in getting noticed and that we can't control. I'll wish it to you in any case.

  6. I agree with 'nothing ventured, nothing gained'.. Dee.
    I understand that it is not easy but you should never give up!
    My aunt was a writer and continued well into her 80's to get her books published. Some succeeded, while others failed but she kept trying because, like you she loved to Write.

    Peace to you also, Dee.
    Pam :)

  7. I like to write, too, but being published (other than my blogs) has never been a factor. It feels strange to think of writing a book that would actually be read by thousands of people. I don't know why that might be.

    But I sure do enjoy reading the books that others write. I do hope that by the time I get my new iPad I will be able to find some really good e-books to read on it. I'm glad you are continuing to widen your horizons to include that avenue. Possibly, that is. :-)

  8. I followed you home from Susan Kane's blogs and am fascinated. Please keep trying. Your prose is elegant and polished and certainly kept me wanting more.

  9. ....the craft of placing one word by another and creating a cadence that entices the mind and the heart into the lyrics of a story." What elegance.

    Wow. Your post is directly tied to what I sent to your email.

    What do we do? Exactly what you wrote above...

  10. I can relate to wondering about being a Grandma Moses, even though I've just started my 50s. The length of time it takes to do this work, and to figure out the work we do, is incidental. I'd like it to be otherwise, but I've always wanted to write well. I appreciate your well-done writing.

  11. I think it is just wonderful that your writing talent has been recognized and put to good use. It seems that you enjoyed the public and the energy that was associated with having Dulcy's story published, and perhaps these other writing efforts just can't offer the same rewards. I really think your enthusiasm and determination will lead to the next door opening. I'm excited to see where it leads! You have talent and drive and determination...I admire that, Dee. Debra

  12. I wish you the best of luck on finding a publisher, but you are a writer, regardless. You write for the pain and the joy of capturing the story. It's in your blood. Go for it! If not now...when? Right? Enjoy!! :)

  13. Whether you publish or not you are always an artist to me Dee. What a sweet and kind heart you have. I hope you are feeling better.

  14. Dear Dee,
    So you're 75? Pshaw. So is Ron Paul. I'm not trying to sell politics but look at him, out there campaigning for what he believes in..... day after day. I saw him last night on TV after he came in 2nd in New Hampshire. He looked tired. Poor, dear man. He has 100 more times the fight than the other candidates because the media demonizes him all the way. I've read all his books and that man is sincerely fighting for our freedom and an avoidance of war.

    Follow your heart, my dear. I'm 7 years older than you and for a while I shut down because after the camps opened and I realize how serious things are, I was afraid for my family..... not myself. I've lived my life. Soon our internet will be like China's and we will no longer be able to post the truth. No more talk radio and we'll have to listen to the well-lawyered-out biased reports from Fox news on TV as our sole media.

    Don't waste your God-given talent. Those books you wrote look mighty fine to me. It certainly isn't your writing. Perhaps you need a new or different subject matter. I'm just tossing out straws but keep trying and try harder. Also being from Minnesota, we understand that old cliche of "Make hay while the sun shines."
    I really appreciate your comment on my blog. You GO GIRL.
    Love and Peace,

  15. Teresa,
    Yes, blogging adds a great deal to the Oneness that we all seek. We meet through our words and discover commonality. It's a blessing.

    By the time you're my age, you will have a large bookcase full of books!

    The validation beyond ourselves is always tricky. I don't think of getting an agent that way. I consider an agent to be the bridge between me and a whole world of readers out there who might respond to the story that's compelling me to write. The only reason I was able to offer Dulcy's book as an e-book is because one of my nieces is computer savvy and did everything for me. But I tell you, Kari, I'm so happy that up to now 23 e-books have sold. That means 23 people are meeting Dulcy!

    Starting Over,
    I love the O'Mara name too. My mom's paternal grandfather was from Johnstown, Pennsylvania. He moved to the Mid-West after the 1889 flood there.

    Thank you for the good wishes. It's so true that we can't control any of this. All we can do is show up at the computer and write and then try to find an agent or an editor. All I can control is that and the way I respond to what happens.

  16. Pam,
    Thanks for your inspiring story about your aunt. It's these stories shared by others that keep me writing. Peace.

    Yes, so long as my niece is willing to make my manuscripts into e-books, I'm eager to have them published. But a lot of people don't have any e-book or iPad and so the "books" won't be available to them. That concerns me. I'm so glad that you write your two blogs. You have such clarity of vision.

    The Elephant Child,
    Thank you for stopping by. As soon as I complete these responses to the comments on this posting, I'll visit your blog. And thanks, also, for the kind words and the encouragement.

    Yes. We tell the story. Our gift to the Universe and the Universe's gift to us.

    Thank you for your kind words about my writing. Your blog shows that you are a gifted writer. It's the work we do on our craft that's important.

  17. Debra,
    We share courage because we both blog. Blogging takes courage--to put our thoughts out there for any and all to read. Thank you, Debra, for your good wishes. I have an intuition that somehow something somewhere is cracking open for me and new growth is beginning.

    You're right! It's in my blood. I'm never more in the present and in Presence than when I write. It is then that I can feel peace between the walls of my pores.

    Thank you. I missed writing when I was under the weather. Tomorrow I see the doctor again to check that all is well.

    I so love your telling me "You Go, Girl!" And that's exactly what I'm going to do. Your suggestion about thinking of new topics is welcomed. I'm thinking that maybe a memoir about the convent might be the way to go. I just have to begin the journey. Along the way I'll meet the people and happenings that will enrich my life. Just like in blogging. I've met you and so many other wonderful people. What a blessing you are.

  18. I commented yesterday, but blogger ate it.

    I don't care how old you are, Dee--JUST KEEP WRITING!!

    Please put me on your list, along with Elisa, as a beta reader. I've had some experience at that. AND, anytime I get the opportunity to read something you've written I will MOST HAPPILY do it!

  19. " If not, then I’ll simply enjoy the craft of placing one word by another and creating a cadence that entices the mind and the heart into the lyrics of a story." I am late to comment, but I absolutely loved this line! Beautiful. Now one of my favorite quotes!