Saturday, January 26, 2013

I Wish I Were a Brave Handsome Man

That's one of my favorite lines from the movie, Mad Dog and Glory.  

I'd like to take a few moments to talk about the evolution of the book and the exquisite yet painful process of writing.  If I was the kind of person to apologize I probably would here but one cannot afford to spend a spare second prostrate when there is so much beauty and magic and mystery in the world to embrace.    

First of all, I am not a writer but I'm guessing you already had an inkling about that.  Not in the professional sense anyway.  I think that's why I made the hard and decidedly controversial (at least to a few of my trusted advisers) decision to publish the first book on my blog free of charge.  

But for me it's more like free of madness.  


After the walk ended, Ed and I worked tirelessly on the manuscript and then, for reasons I'll never understand, Murphy was diagnosed with nasal adenocarcinoma.  After that I just didn't know how to tell the story though my team made a noble effort in submitting it to publishing houses.  

Christian publishers, known collectively as CBA, were all over it but they had "issues" with my use of colorful language.  Clean it up, they said, and we'll make a deal.  

My response was.  I have an important story to tell and what's incumbent on me is to try and tell it as accurately and genuinely as possible.  And if that includes the use of words like fuck, shit, damn, goddamnit, motherfucker, fucking A, fucking B, or my favorite, long lost phrase fuck O, so be it.  

Look I'm not Kurt Vonnegut firing off profanities for fuck's sake.  But I am a Christian and my God has a lot more important things to do than censorship and 'curse' words don't even rank in the top ten million of what's vile and wrong in this world.  

I'll talk more about the sacred and the profane later and spare you the rant for now.  ;)

Needless to say the folks in the CBA market were not amused.  

The rest of the publishing world was less kind or more wishy-washy.  From the editors who took time to write rejection letters the responses were varied.  We're not doing dog books at present.  Or inspirational books.  Or semi-inspirational, meta motivational... my head's starting to hurt now.  

I misspoke when I said 'The rest' since after ten rejection letters I shut it down.  My priority at the time was just trying to save Murphy's life and when the end was certain and the cancer deemed terminal, bring some final comfort to him.  

When your son is dying in your arms, book deals and all that business signify very little.  


One of the rejection letters that has stayed with me most was from an editor who was kind and gracious enough to respond and offer his thoughts.  He said that while he admired my writing, he wasn't in love with it.  

Reflecting back on it now, I recall a speech class I took at the University of Texas.  The professor was showing us an example of how to give an effective, heart felt speech.  From behind his desk, he pulled out a guitar and began to entrance us with his story.  

His father had passed away that year and his sadness had become inconsolable.  But one day he picked up the guitar and started strumming.  He played and played and became pretty damn good at it and his friends asked why don't you start performing?  Austin, after all, is one of the greatest stages in the world for musicians.  

And that's where the point of his speech became apparent. You see, it wasn't about loss or music.  It was about the difference between being a professional and an amateur and he went into the Latin roots of the later word which is love.  Amare.  

My professor had no interest in getting paid for his guitar playing because he felt that if he did he'd loose the love and, I suppose now, his father's memory.  


That editor was spot on.  I love writing but I am not a writer.  

Don't get me wrong.  There are times I wish I was.  I wish a lot of things but what I don't wish is to be a brave, handsome man.  I already am.  


Anonymous said...

Who cares, other than ourselves, if we are writers or not. The most beautiful aspect of yours is that you actually speak from the heart. You speak from experience & with that I feel it. Isn't that the point of a writer? Isn't it not only the desire to make our points but to put the reader where we were when we were? You do that. You have that ability. You have that desire & you have the experiences that many of us only dream of.

I enjoy getting lost in your words; your world.

Anonymous said...

That you are, that you are. . .

Glad you're not sweatin' the rejects too hard. I mean look at the bestseller lists. They could dump 90% of these books without ever feeling guilty of destroying the cultural achievements of humankind. But they don't. And anyway, people like to read books that don't overstrain their braincells. Thus, a rejection letter might be a compliment actually.

Just my effing 2 cents worth, Mr. Robinson.

Anonymous said...

I've thought about your writing and what comes to mind is a quote by Walt Whitman that I thought you might enjoy.

'The words of my book nothing, the drift of it everything.'

Anonymous said...

I like what yor write but shouldn't amare be amore?

Anonymous said...

I have a feeling you have a deep appreciation for the truth. You expect it of yourself and others. After all, you know already know who you are. In your own self-assessment, you are a brave and handsome man...and a decent enough writer. Good enough to at least have earned detailed feedback from publishers, as opposed to the silent treatment. Good enough to have sparked controversy over whether or not it should be sold or given away.

But more importantly, good enough for you.

No one should look to find themselves in the opinion of others - they should look within themselves and then show others. That's a hard, hard lesson to learn. One that you've not only learned for yourself - but one you have exemplified.

And we should, above all, do everything for a greater purpose than money, praise, or recognition. Do it for the love of something completely outside of ourselves - and keep it that way. Or else it cesases to honor. Another fine example you have illustrated for so many - and with such determination, beauty, and grace.

Like your professor, you have taught others something you did not necessarily intend. And those are the best - the VERY best - lessons to teach.

So self-publish. Entrance us. And continue to bless us with your example.

Anonymous said...

Kind of like 'yor' should be 'you'?

Anonymous said...

Don't give up your dream.

"The world wasn't built on wishes. It was built by dreamers who defied the absolute odds against them."

Luke Robinson
December 28, 2011