Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Back To Music

Yesterday I sent off to my agent a book I’ve been working on for almost two years. It’s called L’Amérique and I think it’s one of the better things I’ve written. An excerpt has been picked up by a good literary magazine, Chrysalis, and will be published in the fall. The few people who have taken a look at L’Amérique tell me it’s first-rate. Is that hubris? Maybe, but in this trade, pride tinged with a little arrogance are occasionally necessary traits. The book is finished and I should be pleased.

So why am I feeling depressed?

Maybe it’s post-partum stuff. I’ve been living with the concept of this novel far longer than with its actual writing. The writing—as usual—was the easy part, just a question of putting thoughts to the page and trying to make them readable and not too repetitive. The letting go if it wasn’t hard either, though I know for some writers it’s indescribably painful.  When I was in college, I had a professor who kept in his desk drawer the manuscript of a novel he’d finished writing years ago. He couldn’t/wouldn’t send it out, whether from fear it might be rejected or for all I know the belief that it might age well, like some sort of literary Camembert.  

My fears are not that it will be rejected so much as that it will be ignored, a far less tolerable outcome than outright dismissal.

I am not aided by the fact that an earlier book, Montparnasse, has been in the hands of my agent for more than two years and so far has gotten a chilly reception. Publishers like it, but not quite enough to justify spending the bucks to put it in bookstores. I’m afraid L’Amérique may find a similar response.

I’ve decided I’m going to take a little vacation from fiction writing. I’ve already mapped out the next fiction project and have some 50 pages of notes jotted down, but I need to change focus. So I’ve dragged out the equipment used to record a CD when I had a band, and I will try my hand at music again. I have melodies echoing off the walls of my house, and some 200 songs written in the last few decades.  I’ve changed the 20 strings on my Carter pedal steel guitar and retuned the beast, a not brief investment of time. I’ve unlimbered the mixing board, bought a second-hand amp to replace the one that blew out some time ago, and I’ve checked out the Home Recording for Dummies book from the local library.  I’m also playing daily to replenish the calluses on the fingers of my fretting hand. I have a couple of musically adept friends willing to devote their time and talent to the endeavor.

My talentless drum-bashing-at-seven a.m.-neighbor had better watch out.  It’s gonna get loud.

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