Posted in Publish or Perish on August 21, 2011 by Susan Weiss
August 21, 2011
Surprise is a wonderful, terrible thing. The surprise of a cancer diagnosis. The surprise of winning a $5,000 grant in fiction writing.
I can barely describe the shock I experienced when I found out that I had cancer. It was a recognizable event but not something I could have conceived would ever happen to me. My reaction wasn’t so much a “why me?” kind of disbelief. It was more like having imagined winning the lottery but not being able to grasp the reality of actually doing so.
The surprise of good tidings in the literary part of my life has felt equally…stunning, I guess I could say.
Posted in Publish or Perish on July 28, 2011 by Susan Weiss
July 28, 2011
I have, ever since my book was accepted by a publisher, been surprised by how subdued my reaction has been. After all, I’ve been writing for years and years, most of my life. I wrote another novel or two along the way, neither of which was fated for print (though I haven’t given up on one of them). And yet, once the thimbleful of dust settled, what I was left feeling was mostly relief. Oh good, that’s done now. I don’t have to devote myself to finding a publisher. My task is complete. Cross it off the list.
Certainly the arduous labor of promoting the book in advance of its publication date has not been easy. At times I’ve felt like a coal miner, descending each day into a dark and unwelcoming place to work very very hard for hours without much satisfaction. By now I almost feel like a professional publicist after learning so much about marketing, and while I’m pleased with all of my efforts and am confidence that I won’t look back and feel that I should have done more, it is most definitely not the writer part of myself that basks in this sense of accomplishment.
Today I got my first review (http://letsbookit.blogspot.com/) and felt a first surge of excitement. There it is, in black and white and color--indisputable evidence that I did write a book.
Posted in Publish or Perish on July 18, 2011 by Susan Weiss
July 18, 2011
I can’t recall what prompted the idea, but lately I’ve found myself thinking about uniforms. At first I was envisioning uniforms just for those living with cancer. (I pictured them as green, for no good reason I could think of.) Then I thought, Why not uniforms for diabetics, for those with Crohn’s disease? And almost instantly I decided that I’d like a uniform that identifies me as the author of a soon-to-be-published novel; when I was in the process of trying to get that same novel published, I sure would have liked a uniform aligning me with every other author trying to get a book published.
True, not all of us wish to publicize the struggles we encounter--problems with our health, professional frustrations—or even the successes that feel too private to blast out into the world-at-large. The hair loss experienced by many who are undergoing chemotherapy is an all-too-visible clue that those people are dealing with cancer; understandably, they may not welcome any further scrutiny. But maybe if we were all in uniform, we would become more sensitive to each others’ circumstances and at the same time feel less alone ourselves when in the midst of a troubling time.
Posted in Publish or Perish on July 06, 2011 by Susan Weiss
July 7, 2011
Do you remember—probably some time in your early adolescence—when you realized that from the moment we’re born, we begin the decline that ultimately leads to our death? In other words, we’re dying throughout our lives. Many young people who stumble upon this dark concept feel philosophically elevated to a higher order of pondering. They perhaps feel more sophisticated, having suddenly been faced with a whole slew of new questions about the very nature of our existence. If life is really about dying, then what makes it life? What makes it an experience that encompasses growth, prosperity, inflation of the soul? It’s kind of a Woody Allen-esque way of looking at life, I suppose. Because one could just as convincingly argue that we are born to die but along the route we thrive, luxuriate in contentment, and have a taste or two of joy.
I took comfort recently when, after I confessed to a counselor my fear of the suffering and pain I associate with the dying process, she suggested that life is actually a slow process of death. But the idea wasn’t presented as a dreary maxim, rather as an expression of some organic truth. For me the notion softened the line of demarcation between this life I so hate to let go of and the end that my cancer cells are conspiring to force upon me. If I’m already dying, then maybe the crossover to the deathbed won’t be as drastic as I imagine.
Posted in Publish or Perish on June 28, 2011 by Susan Weiss
June 28, 2011
I’m thinking by now that I’m likely to be published before I perish—or more exactly, before I’m done in by my cancer (though there’s always that bus people are telling me might some day run me over). My novel is scheduled for official publication on September 19, and for now I’m medically stable. But I’m writing another novel. In fact somehow, inexplicably almost, the novel I’m currently working on is close to completion. Of course, once it’s done, there will be a solicitation of feedback, the letting-it-sit period, the revision. And then? Will it not be long before I must again ponder “publish or perish…which will come first?”
I’m surprised by how often I invoke the childhood experience of playing musical chairs as a metaphor.