Friday, October 30, 2009

Guest Blogger: TRAVIS ERWIN

Never give up on something that you
can't go a day without thinking about.
~ Unknown

Current Local Forecast:
Swollen handfuls of

Currently on my iPod:
Strawberry Fields
Ben Harper
"I Am Sam" Soundtrack

Special Announcement:
THE NEW FACE OF JAZZ is available for pre-order NOW on Check it!
Don't make a red-head cry! Buy it, support the poor.

There are few people in one's life here on this great big ball of blue and green that impress me with their dedication as a friend and to their craft as Travis has over the last two...(or is it three?)..years that I've known him. He is one of the great 'undiscovered' talents and I'm glad to say his love and text messages and emails and well placed calls of encouragement have kept me going more days than not. Although I don't quite approve of his meathead diet, I approve of all good people in this world and especially those who can spin a yarn that keeps me smiling day after day after day.
Without further ado, my guest blogger this month is: Travis Erwin.

A rare sighting of Travis and Me, in the same place, at the same time.

Literary Agent Appreciation Day: Year One

Gatsby had Tom Buchanan.

Superman, Lex Luther.

Heck, even the Roadrunner had Wile E. Coyote.

Enemies, rivals, dream killers. Books, movies, cartoons are littered with epic battles between the so-called good guy and the evil doer opposing them.

Yet here in the real world few of us have an enemy or even a steady rival?

Sure there was that dude in college that seduced the girl of your dreams, but chances are that girl gave him chlamydia anyway. Or maybe you have an anal boss that gets ticked every time he catches you on Facebook at work, but even that dude is simply trying to do a job. Chances are he has his won problems and doesn't have time to plot your demise or the destruction of your dreams. And I suppose that neighbor down the street that lets his Shih Tzu squat and leave an Alpo nugget on your front lawn each day could be construed as evil, but still I don't think you can call them a true enemy.

Yet I do know of one demographic that likes to play the blame game. Many in this demographic badly want to think of themselves as the good guy. They wanna believe their is a dark force out there working against them. They wanna think that their dreams would all come true if only their arch enemy wasn't blocking the path to glory.

And who is this demographic?


And yes, I, Travis Erwin solidly belong to this demographic of wannabee novelists. I have submitted query after query. Partial after partial. Full manuscript after full manuscript. Only to have some golden haired literary agent cast their judgment down upon me from their penthouse high above the New York skyline.

I have cursed under my breath.

If only I could submit directly to the editors at the big houses. Surely they would get me. If only every person of power in the business didn't call the big city home they might appreciate my words. If only i didn't live in "fly-over" country I'd have a chance.

Yeah, I'm ashamed to say it but I've had those thoughts. Guess what they are excuses. Nothing more. Asinine explanations to cover up the fact that I haven't done what it takes to break through.

Do I still believe that much of what I've written is good? Dare I say every bit as good as other stuff already getting published. Damn right I do. But nevertheless I haven't done enough. I have created a compelling enough query. I haven't made myself or my pitch original enough. I haven't drawn the reader in quick enough. I haven't patched the holes, the weak spots in the plot. I haven't fleshed the characters quite enough.

Bottom line -- I haven't made it impossible to say no.

Would readers or acquiring editors see things differently? Who knows. I could self-publish, but at this point in my writing I don't think I would feel any sense of accomplishment going that route. I want that validation of having someone else say yes, you are good enough. I could approach small and regional publishers that take unagented submissions and if my work is rock solid they may accept it. But will any one other than my friends and family notice? Will my work find a large enough readership to build upon or will I have a feather in my cap and nothing more?

Of course landing an agent is no guarantee that a big publisher will take on your work. And these days even big publishers are reluctant to put their publicity muscle behind unknown and unproven authors.

So I understand why it's natural to blame the industry, the big houses that won't commit to reading huge piles of unagented slush, and the literary agents who first cast judgment based solely upon a one page query.

But as writers we must understand the rules of the game. If you don't like them don't play. Literary agents did not get into the business to dash the dreams of writers. They got into for the same reason you right, Because they love books, stories, and discovering that next great read. Do they miss. Sure. Are their tastes subjective. You betcha. But to blame them for standing in your way is self-defeating. It's the easy way out.

To foster a better relationship between aspiring writers and literary agents I have declared November 1st as Literary Agent Appreciation Day. I have been gathering stories of agents that have gone above and beyond to help writers gain a foothold or learn about the craft and business. For more info on Literary Agent Appreciation Day or how you can participate visit my regular blog here.

Literary Agents are not your enemy any more than your car is. Yeah, I know it hurts like hell to hit a tree at fifty miles per hour, but keep in mind you are the one behind the wheel. Swerve if you have to, and for God sakes, don't drive, or query, if you've had more than one rum and coke.
~Travis Erwin

Yours in Meat, Merging Blogs and Meandering Through Travis Land...


1 comment:

Charles Gramlich said...

Love the ending. I think you're exactly right. We writers do tend sometimes to think it's us against ALL of them. I'm sure agents are like everyone else. There are some great ones, some horrible ones, and most just trying to keep their head above water while they try to be financial secure and helpful to their clients.