Wednesday, September 16, 2009


So, I’m on my couch Sunday night going over some work from my job as the VMA’s play on in the background – just a little white noise to break up the quiet.  I gave up on award shows years ago when I went to the Image Awards and they kept me hostage for six hours as they taped and retaped segment after segment.

So, I’m tapping on my computer when I hear the nominees for Best Female Video – Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, Kelly Clarkson, Pink.  I pretty much figure this one’s in the bag because Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)” video has become so instantly iconic – from the YouTube send up with that sinewy gay guy who breaks it down almost better than even Beyoncé, to the overweight sistahs who do their version, to Justin Timberlake and Andy Samberg wearing leotards and the biggest pumps I’ve ever seen for a skit on SNL.  But then I hear them call Taylor Swift’s name and I think, “Really?  Okay…” and I go back to doing my work.  I hear her sweet little excited voice as she gives her thanks, talks about her dreams, her…wait, that doesn’t sound like a 19-year old female voice.  What the hell?  Dear God, it’s Kanye! 

Later that night, I start having Kanye thoughts. (I know, weird, right!) Here’s the thing, he thinks there is no one more amazing than him – and no opinion greater.  While I find him borderline nuts, there’s a part of me that’s a little envious of the sheer weight of his BALLS!  I’m sure he must have doubts sometimes…maybe…maybe not… but if he does, the man does not allow it to hold him back.  He’s not a person you’d ever find working in an office or landscaping because he feels he has something to say and he has to be in a medium that will allow him to not just say it, but to shout it.  But isn’t that why we’re artists.  We feel we have something to say.  So, why, sometimes when we say it, it’s a whisper and not a roar?

Emile Zola has a quote “If you ask me what I came into this life to do, I will tell you: I am an artist, I came to live out loud.” So, why is it that sometimes the volume on our art is turned way down or muted?  I know we say, “life gets in the way,” “things come up,” but too often the plain and simple truth is that it is just DOUBT.  Lord knows I’ve had a lot of it in my life and mine has changed over time.  Used to be I had doubt about my talent.  “Maybe they won’t like it,” I’d think, then I would go over my piece, constantly editing and changing.  In the end, it would look nothing like what I had initially intended and I’d just scrap it thinking it was no good and start on something new.  Eventually, I forced myself to the finish line, but then another set of doubts crept in.  “People know I’ve been working on this forever and they expect it to be great.  What if it’s not?”  (See my previous “Ugly Baby” posting.)  But success, no matter how small, helped me with that.  After publishing a novel – having people actually say, “Yeah, I think this begs for the world to see,” after selling a short story and several articles, I started believing in myself – writing wise.

I’m so in my comfort zone when I’m writing and creating a character, a world.  So I’ve removed the doubt from my writing, but it has attached itself to my world after I’ve completed my project – when the business aspect of it all really kicks in.  I have to find that agent, a new publisher, sell the book, go through rejections again.  I have to go into major network mode, and that’s not really my thing.  The fiction book market has changed – they’re not buying as many titles and I hear that little doubt monster whispering: “Your book is good, but is it really good enough to compete with the one million other books one million far more aggressive writers writers are trying to sell?”  This is exactly when I need to channel my inner Kanye.  I need to roll up to those agents and say, “Hold Up!  I got nothing against that book you just bought, but my novel is iconic - the next “Crime and Punishment,” “War and Peace,” and “Wuthering Heights,” all rolled into one. You need to open your eyes, come correct and do what’s right.  BUY CAROLITA’S SH*T!   You heard!!!!!

Thursday, September 3, 2009


Be honest. Have you ever noticed a baby from afar and gotten into your “Baby approaching” mode. You know, the one where you adopt that weird “cutie patootie, baby waby” voice. You begin smiling and gushing and falling all over yourself, but then you get up close and personal with the kid and you realize, “that is one interesting looking child.” Or has someone ever come cooing about their baby, only to set a picture of the little tyke down in front of you and all you could think was, “Damn!?”

I’ve never met a parent who didn’t think his/her baby cute…although I have met babies I didn’t think were particularly gifted in the aesthetic sense. Actually, I’m gonna come out and say it. I’ve seen some babies who were downright alien like, scary, unsettling. I’d never say it to the parent or to the baby, but I’ve thought it. And I know I’m not the only one. But maybe to the parents of these babies, it goes beyond the physical look of their child. Maybe they see them as cute because they’re so tiny and fragile and helpless…and they’re theirs. Besides, who ever wants to admit to themself that they could actually produce something less than perfect.

I bring this up because I’m the parent of a newborn that I’ve named, “Three thousand Six Hundred Twenty Eight Miles.” And hell, I think my kid is gorgeous. But I’ve sent out my first query letter, just to test the waters. I pretty much summed up my story in one sentence, then expanded a little on it by filling my synopsis with adjectives bursting with flare and drama. I included a short bio touting my writing experience and why I wanted to be represented by the particular agency, then I attached the first six pages of my novel – all of which I find particularly intriguing. Sixty four hours later, I received this response:

“Thank you for your recent e-mail. I regret to say that I don’t feel that I’m the most appropriate agent for your work. However, opinions vary considerably in this business, and I wish you the best of luck in your search for representation.”

Now, did I think my very first query…a cold one nonetheless…would have attracted an agent? Hell yeah. I mean, my baby is gorgeous. At worse, I thought I’d get a little more insight into why he didn’t think her so pretty – not just a bland “I’m not the most appropriate agent for your work,” aka “Your baby is kind of ugly and I don’t want to look at it.”

So I sat there for a moment wondering how rose tinted my glasses might actually be – wondering if this kid I’ve birthed isn’t actually a pus-filled little sac of fugly. Sometimes you just can’t help wondering if you might not actually be off on your judgment because you’re so closely tied into your project. And though art is subjective – you still kind of want everyone to love it and everyone to be as gung ho about it as you are. Never mind that this agent sees fifty queries a day, two hundred fifty every week, a thousand every month, I completely believed mine was the one that would stand out.

But I quickly shook off the doubt because I know my baby is pretty. I will continue to cold query, but I’m going to work really hard on getting referrals because if there is one thing I’ve noticed…familiarity encourages acceptance. When there is someone else touting your work…striking up a symphony and sending up flares behind it, there’s an automatic predisposition for others to see the beauty in it. Granted, if it’s truly butt ugly, no one will want to risk their rep on it, but if, with just a bit of baby oil and powder, it will be ready for entrance into the “cutest baby contest,” you’re in...

And more on doubt in my next entry.