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November 29, 2018: The Writing Life: That darn Proposal

Book acquisition agents generally require that a proposal be submitted prior to taking a look at a manuscript. It isn’t a fair proposition because they take a long time to write, time that could be better spent working on the next manuscript. And equally unfair is the fact that they make their decisions based on the first paragraph. An no matter how good that first paragraph is, you can still be rejected, and for a variety of reasons, one being that someone else is writing about the topic, and another being that they feel that it isn’t a topic that anyone would be interested in reading about.

I don’t know anything about the history of the book proposal, but in my mind, its just

View of the black hole (storge cabin) from the arena
View of the black hole (storge cabin) from the arena

another way of screwing over writers. They should be able to make their determination by reading a cover letter, the book’s introduction, and the first chapter.

I am a terrible proposal writer. This is my biggest marketing-related downfall. I’m sure that many right brain thinkers like me have also ended up at a distinct disadvantage publications-wise. I am not grousing about this – wait, oh yes I am grousing. Grouse are good, grouse are great, thank you dog, for putting grouse on my plate.

Too bad my proposal can’t take the form of a poem. I could write several, but this would undermine the poetic genre at a time when it needs all the help it can get.

I also am having to contend with the fact that this book now fits under the category Old News. I should have been done writing it last November. A few days ago I was in the stupor market. A well-meaning Alaska State Fair Recycling volunteer came to me and asked me how the book was coming along. I told her that I had to stop work on it now and then because I needed to give more thought as to how the material would be organized. “Honey,” she said, “You spent too much time thinking and not enough time writing. You’re writing about the 2017 Fair season. In a month’s time it will be 2019.” “Live and learn,” I replied, and made a mental note to change the Fair dates. As I walked away I thought, huh, I am and will remain in the eyes of all who had some knowledge of this project a bullshit artist.

I am now fairly far along with the proposal for If You Come to a Fork in the Road Pick it Up. As with the other proposals that I’ve written, time in terms of my composing process has been incremental. At first, I spend little time on such things because they’re so hard to work on. But as time goes on, I spend more time on such things because they’re easier to work on. This time, I out-psyched my psyche by forcing it to believe that I was further along than I actually was. I did this by first working for a bit on the overview, then going and filling in the requisite publication information such as Length, Genre, and Anticipated Date of Completion headers. Then I moved the introduction and first chapter from my manuscript to the proposal document. I hadn’t put my mental pedal to medal yet, but having ten pages on hand made going back to working on the overview easier. Bang, pow, smack – take that psyche.

The above is as boring as my dental history. But consider this: today you were spared. I’ve developed a gum abscess but have chosen not to bore you with the details. Rather, I’m boring you with the details related to this project, the angst involved comparable to having yet another root canal and perhaps going from having a bridge to a partial denture.

Hope springs eternal – Pete keeps saying that this book is a worthy project. If I didn’t have his support on the more agonizing phase of this venture, I’d by now have moved on to writing about something else and then abandoned that something else. This is because my expectations exceed my abilities, or so I think.

Back to work. Son of Forks – yes, this is what I am going to call it. It’s pretty far along or else I would not also be working it this evening.

Next: 334. 11/30/18: My Own Private Epicenter

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