R.L. SAUNDERS

writer attempting real life in the middle of everybody else's vacation

Bern smartly, pale and precious candles of hope.

 

Bernie rally

My kids and I rallied for Bernie (literally) and we’ll be leaving our A FUTURE TO BELIEVE IN sign up in the living room indefinitely. But despite all the Bernie Or Bust up here in the Great White North (by people who are suddenly much smarter and more committed to their ideals than Bernie), this Bernie-loving progressive is WITH HER (you know, like Bernie). For whatever reason, it seems entirely plausible to me that Bernie’s in a position to know something about the best course of action for the revolution he inspired. Those ideals are closer than ever to becoming reality–just look at the Bernie youth vote! That’s our future! Yay! And it’s the much nearer future if a need for immediate gratification doesn’t fuck it up by inadvertently setting human and civil rights progress back a good century.

And all these recent variations on the idea that “Bernie or Bust” is at this point, in part, a reflection of white privilege? They ring pretty true, if we can be a little bit honest with ourselves for a sec.

I know this is the first time some Berners have cared much about our political system (welcome i love u so much plz never leave), but the way it typically works is: sometimes your preferred candidate wins and sometimes he or she loses. If your fav comes up short in the primary, it feels good to amplify and hold tight for a while to all the (founded and unfounded) negativity spewed in the process. Thing is, while Bernie was screwed in many ways (He totally was! I so get it!), Clinton won, even adjusting for our completely imperfect and sometimes corrupt system. Hillary MOPPED THE FLOOR with Bernie in the South, actually. The reality is that some of us are clinging to hurt and divisiveness (and yeah, hate) instead of even attempting to see what is now our most reasonable, sustainable (if slower) path forward. And it’s making me sad. Not like personally terrified for the immediate safety of my children sad, because my family will still be comfortably white during a Trump presidency. Just run-of-the-mill middle class white lady bleeding heart liberal sad.

Seems a little like love is the answer unless things don’t go exactly our way. Like, discount the validity of minority votes because why? They’re not as enlightened about the path forward as we are? They just don’t understand all the secret winking, or whatever, that Bernie is doing to signal we’re supposed to write him in or vote third-party? It’s our moral duty to have hope for the masses of misguided hopeless minorities in place of their own hope (poor things)? Come on. Bad hippies. Bad.

To whitesplain: The best yurt builder in the world has devoted himself to helping you build your  environmentally sound, non-GMO, most amazing dream homestead for free. And he’s making good progress on the project, but you’ve decided to burn the whole thing to the ground in a fit of rage because he’s taking longer to finish than you expected. That doesn’t teach the world about the pace at which you demand things get better. It just devastates your own family.

At some point (preferably before November), I hope we’re better able explore and genuinely consider the difference between unbridled hope and unbridled ignorance.

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On unhelpful publishing advice (once more, with feeling!)

I’m not feeling mean-spirited. It’s just time for this again, even if it serves no real purpose outside a little positive self-talk.

Publishing advice from those who don’t seem remotely qualified to give it (people who neither write nor read much, for example) comes in waves. Maybe I need to start paying closer attention to what I’m doing when it happens, in case something about my approach is contributing. Serious questions: Does this happen to most writers? Does this happen as frequently to male writers? Does it happen because I disclose too much? Or because I seem especially helpless? Needy? Frustrated? Stupid? Does the fact that this is even on my mind make me seem ridiculous and neurotic, somehow? And why do I care?

I’m at work on my fourth manuscript. And while I share openly about having underestimated how difficult traditional publishing would be (and I thought it would be incredibly difficult) I’m no less determined. As a writer and reader, I appreciate the vetting process–however imperfect–of traditional publishing. I also like when authors are paid for the publication of their work instead of paying to have their work published. The idea that there’s big money in self-publishing because everybody else doesn’t get a cut is mostly a fantasy. The idea that there’s big money in publishing at all is mostly a fantasy. No writer I take seriously is doing it for the prospect of a big payoff.

My experience is not so different from authors you know and love, no matter how much it seems they just popped onto the scene one day with a great book on the shelves. Most traditionally published authors endure years–sometimes double-digits’ worth–of growth (so, rejection) before they hit the right editor at the right time. Either they have many manuscripts set aside or they’ve reworked the same one a hundred-thousand times.

A couple of my more recent rejections are along the lines of: “I love so much about this–especially the voice. But it’s too similar to something on our list.” Or more painfully: “She’s one to watch–please send me what’s next!” In other words, my time will come. I have to believe that.

My process has made me a little nuttier, but my writing is there, or at least better than ever. And my confidence is intact most days, which is in no small part because of my agent. She’s not in the habit of blowing smoke up asses, which makes her encouragement valuable and sincere.

Point is, giving me (and so many like me) advice about how to self-publish, especially when it’s clear you’re not aware there’s much of a difference, is unintentionally like going to the doctor and saying, “Look, I know you’ve been at this medical thing a while and that’s actually super adorable, but I Googled my symptoms last night and here’s what’s up. You’re welcome.”

So, thank you, but please trust that I’m pretty aware of my options. I know what I’m doing, however insane it seems when you know for sure that I could have my books available next week.

Call me stubborn. But also call me patient and hard-working, because I’m those things, too. There’s no other way to be in this business.

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