Blizzard winds blew down the last of the tall, skinny pine trees planted as a hedge eighty years ago beside the house opposite mine. No one was hurt but a chimney died. The tree and the man who planted it survived approximately the same length of time. Not all states remain as long. Since I spend many days gardening, by September I have freckles and a patchwork tan. Now, I look as though I’m a vampire’s favorite meal break. Is the popularity of vampires due partly to their eternal existence?
Since I received an E-nook for Christmas, I’ve spent more time wondering how soon digital books will replace paper ones. Crowded bookcases and the piles of books and magazines in my house made me fear that I might one day appear on a TV show about hoarders, alienated from their families, who crawl through narrow spaces in search of a bed or toilet. I recall purchasing and carrying two hundred pounds of books at the beginning of each semester. What a joy to download these books instead. The younger generation is hooked almost from birth into apps and keyboards so how long will they want to turn pages and save places in traditional books?
During the last two weeks, I’ve been doing my homework on agents before submitting my novel. After two or three days, the task turned into an interesting learning project. I was reminded of why I pursued an MA in Literature despite people telling me a degree in engineering or business would earn me more money. I saw the genuine interest of several agents in their clients and in fiction. One woman, who graduated at the same time I did, took a job at Little Brown. To think I might have gone the editor-agent route and today have my own slush pile.
I learned agents might list mystery as one of the genres that interest them but the mysteries they agent are set in science fiction worlds or are urban fantasies. I was surprised how many writers disappeared after one book, and marveled at the writer who published on his web site that anyone wishing to turn his books into a TV series or a movie should contact his agent. Anyone wishing to make my work into a movie can call me any time. I’ll even let them know the best times to reach me.
All the research reminded me of theses I had to produce, except what I now sought was at my fingertips thanks to the digital age. For my MS degree, I did a meta-analysis of cardiac rehab programs reported in journals stocked in five university libraries. I physically visited each library and destroyed trees by the ton with photo copies of articles I lugged home to read at 3 A.M.
My thesis on American Realism involved carrying books and copying copious amounts of scholarly criticism. Reading the books was fun but scholarly criticism lacked meaning for me. The professor grading my thesis worked hard at teaching me how to write scholarly articles. These articles rely much on third person passive. For example, enthusiasm and emotion needs to be lacking if the article is to be taken seriously. It was information like this that convinced me I wasn’t destined for a life in academia. At the time, I published poems, all of them free verse.
The professor was his own piece of American realism. He looked like a Viking raised on American steaks. He came from a family of farmers living in the Midwest. I guess he had to work hard at changing his inner image from physical strength and hard work to high intellectual achievement. He drove a pencil instead of a tractor and had to diet to keep his weight down because he spent so much time sitting. I’m sure there are people, including family members, who think I should spend less time trying to sell my imaginary worlds and more time solving concrete problems. Thank you to all those who brought information closer and turned weeks of research into days.