Long writing journey into something

Ever since I read in Stuff White People Like that Moleskines are a staple of white pretentiousness and posturing, I’ve been self-conscious about mine. Christian Lander had me nailed, right down to the MacBook Pro sitting next to it as I sipped at a non-fat latte in an overpriced coffee house. At least I hadn’t procured mine with a credit card—I’d scraped together cash from around the house, on the premise that if I only used loose change, it was like a free purchase, like how sucking on a mint after an outing to Sonic is free of calories. How idiotically white of me.

mocha latteTo make matters worse, this is not my first Moleskine. It is, in fact, my second. And if anyone cared to study this little black ruled book, they would discover a “2” written  in on the bottom, where the gold leaf should be, I guess.

Perhaps it’s better that I used up a whole book already, because at least I write in them, and no, they’re not just full of grocery lists and directions to IKEA.

I also don’t have anything in here worthy of da Vinci or Hemingway, two of the Moleskine’s more famous users, and Hemingway was a stuck up misogynist anyway. His best short story is six words long (his assertion, not mine).

No, I write in this notebook to keep track of query letter submissions, the inevitable rejections, submissions to journals, and the places I might submit to someday but for what I consider exorbitant submission fees (read, $10). I also keep track of my work in progress’ progress, scheduling deadlines for myself like an agent or editor would. That way I can have arguments with myself over why I’m giving excuses on missing important dates and don’t I know what this is doing to my career, and who is going to want to work with me after this?

I’m sure I still have my mind. It’s right in a box over there.

All of this ponderance about Moleskine notebooks comes because I’m sitting at PDX airport waiting to meet my mother who will be visiting us or a week. A technology professional is at the table next to mine, speaking loudly into his cell phone describing the apparently delicious and speciously nutritious drink he’s just purchased from Jamba Juice: a little bit of banana, strawberry, and mango, he declares loudly to his wife, plus some SOY PROTEIN! and ESSENCE OF WHEATGRASS! It sounds particularly disgusting to me, but then I’m the schmuck with a $4 nonfat mocha in a world-preserving, 100% recycled cup, so what do I know? And writing in a Moleskine. Damn Moleskine.

I don’t feel particularly pretentious, but then again, white people never do. We’re pretty much blind to it, save the very extreme examples—here I’m thinking of German avant garde artists from the 1980s, or say, people from Massachusetts named Biff Wellesley or Chauncy Milton who wear plaid shorts unironically and race in regattas around the Cape. Maybe I feel a bit incognito partly because I am sans my titanium Apple accessory this evening, and partly because I am in green cargo pants and a black hoodie. I fit right in to PDX, the city, not the airport. Come to think of it, who nicknames their city after their airport? I bet if I asked everyone in earshot who had a Moleskine to whip it out and wave it like they just don’t care, 39 percent of the folks here would be showing off their pretentiousness inside of 16 seconds.

The airport announcer is saying, for the fourth time, that Jesse Bauer really needs to meet his party at the Panda Express. Jesus, Jesse, get moving, their dinners are going to get cold.

I left Walla2 right after receiving notice from an agent in Seattle that they just didn’t quite connect to my manuscript, so they won’t be moving forward with me on this project. Moving forward. I note that they didn’t rule out moving left, or upward. Perhaps those options are still open.

My mind reads this rejection sentence and immediately thinks of a shoreline. I’m not sure why. Perhaps it goes back to that oft-repeated line about the footprints of Jesus as he carries his ignorant follower who somehow doesn’t get that hello, JESUS IS CARRYING YOUR DUMB ASS. I’m not sure with whom I’ll be moving forward, but if Jesus is doing any agenting, I’m open to the idea. I bet he could work wonders with publishers, yuk yuk.

She went on to say in her letter that it wasn’t me, it was her, and just, perhaps, a matter of taste. This Dear John letter tone didn’t sit well with me. A matter of taste? She was looking for a Prada clutch, and I was a Jacqueline Smith pocketbook on the clearance rack at KMart? Or perhaps it just wasn’t what she was looking for right now. Maybe three years from now humorous memoirs about klutzes who get sex changes will be all the rage. But why say perhaps? Doesn’t she know? It’s her opinion she’s offering.

Well, it comes down to platform, I get that. Mr. Dan Savage of the Stranger, another GLBT author working with a Seattle agent, has readership. So okay, I’ll work on having a platform and see if my words suddenly sound better, or become more connectable to people.

The second paragraph of her letter was just as brief. She wanted to encourage me to continue trying. I genuinely appreciate that. But why? Or more to the point, how? She said there was much to recommend about my writing. What, specifically? The font? The careful avoidance of split infinitives? The witty banter among urban dwelling queers? What? I’m left, as after my other rejections, in the middle of a guessing game. So far, my guesses have been wrong, if success is measured in contract proposals.

But I’ll tally ho and try again, because I am a writer with nothing to lose. JK Rowling got 13 rejections of her original Harry Potter book. I have just surpassed her with this 14th rejection.

Take that, JK!

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4 Comments on “Long writing journey into something”

  1. March 18, 2010 at 1:39 am #

    I am warming up to Moleskines, thanks to the Color-a-Month-Planner for a dollar! It’s amazing. I go through too many notebooks to actually afford to be solely a Moleskine person.

    • evmaroon
      March 18, 2010 at 8:42 am #

      Oh see, now I have to try finding that! I’m sure there are none available in Walla Walla proper, but I’m no longer inhospitable to the idea of walking into a Barnes and Noble.
      I have quite the cacophony of notebooks: a couple from my days in the government, a “Cambridge” brand from my local Hallmark store, a couple of nice leather bound ones I received as gifts. I’m afraid to write in those, as if only the best ideas I’ve ever had are worth filling such a nice volume of paper.
      Maybe if I had a monthly planner again my life would feel renewed. I used to get the very lovely and large Paragraf Diary, but I can’t bring myself to shell out the $37.50 for it right now. One greenback sounds much better!

  2. March 18, 2010 at 1:42 am #

    The second paragraph of her letter was just as brief. She wanted to encourage me to continue trying. I genuinely appreciate that. But why? Or more to the point, how? She said there was much to recommend about my writing. What, specifically? The font? The careful avoidance of split infinitives? The witty banter among urban dwelling queers? What? I’m left, as after my other rejections, in the middle of a guessing game. So far, my guesses have been wrong, if success is measured in contract proposals.

    The rejection letters are rarely helpful. Most of mine have had the cheek to cite writers (who happen to be black) who stylistic choices are nothing like mine and suggest I study their works. That has happened more than once.

    I totally agree with the platform feedback though. They want you to come to the table with a built in fanbase so it’s easier to market your book and so you can do all the promotion yourself.

    That’s why I definitely wanted to create a blog for us to build that platform.

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