Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Paying It Forward

My email to an author from whom I requested a review of my latest novel:

Michael... I actually wish my first request to you for a review had resulted in a non-response. Y'know? It's what I'm used to. I sent the same request to George Takei and didn't hear back from him. Receiving a glowing review [for my novel Secreta Corporis] from you was a wonderful experience, but since then I've sprouted question marks around my head. Anyone else receiving affirmation like that from someone credible like you would be able to move forward to the next step and then the next step and so on. Me? I receive a glowing review from an established writer and— [Insert long pause and shrug.] I'm just baffled by my life experiences. Anyone getting a "rich and detailed landscape" and a "highly recommend it" could look forward to interest in a subsequent novel. Or interest from a publisher like Cleis. Couldn't they? I don't know, it just seems logical. Is it the men in black warning people not to associate with me? They can be quite intimidating...

A similar instance: Back when I was learning to build 3D models, Geoff Campbell, the head of the modeling department at Industrial Light+Magic, came up to me after he saw my reel and just started chatting with me. At one point, he said something like "They could get you started in the architecture department," because of a cathedral model he saw on my reel. Anyone else hearing something like that would end up as an employee at ILM soon thereafter, wouldn't they? If that had been you, I know you would've ended up working there. It seemed like an open door. Me? [Insert long pause and shrug.] After contacting them several times to follow up, I finally gave up. I'm just baffled by my life experiences.

I'm sure that if you respond at all to this, your email will have an edge and will be on the order of "Life is tough. Don't expect things to be handed to you." Please don't send a response like that; your "Good luck" cut deeply enough, you don't need to cut any deeper. :-} I suspect that your glowing review was intended to help market The City of Palaces because you knew someone like me would display your author information on every webpage around the world to which he has access. I'm not convinced that's true, I just suspect. But that is how the real world works. It would explain why a friendship hasn't developed between us (a long-distance, lite friendship). It would explain why there was no mention of my book in your blog, even though you told me I'd written a good book. Alternately, I suspect that my atheo-agnosticism is something you want to distance yourself from because most of your readers are devout Catholics, or at least somewhat religious. In that case, it's possible that you actually did think it was a good book. Slim, but still a possibility.

One thing I feel is important to mention is how you would have reacted to me, everything about the book being exactly the same, if I looked like the models in the photo shoot. I'm not convinced that this is relevant, but examine your feelings. If it had turned out that I looked as edible as they look, would you have expressed more interest in the book, given everything about the book being identical? I can think of four people off the top of my head who refuse to be seen with me in public. Two will talk to me in private, but being seen with me in public would lower their social standing. If someone is as mentally deficient as that, their opinion really doesn't carry a lot of weight with me. But that kind of thinking does exist. If you actually would be more interested and helpful with me if I looked like one of the models, then that's a character flaw that needs your attention. You know what it's like to be considered inferior simply because of your Mexican heritage. Exhibiting that same kind of bigotry to someone else because of his looks and age isn't forgivable, especially as you're an established spokesman in the LGBT community. Do you associate only with cute young guys, or with homely older people only when they're already established writers? It's certainly possible. Be brutally honest with yourself. If it's true, then you're still at your own Little Rock H.S. prior to 1957 and you have work to do. If it's not true, which is quite possible, then this whole paragraph should be disregarded. Never mind.

If there was ever somebody to invest good karma into... You already know from my writing that my IQ is on par with the people in your social circle, and there are other talents I could mention like songwriting, painting, and writing computer code for websites. I don't know, I really don't think I'm all that dull. But my life experiences would suggest otherwise. If you were willing to be a sort of mentor for me, or at least to answer my infrequent emails, it would take very little of your time, but it would have a tremendous impact on me. You could at least give it some thought. Sometimes ugly ducklings... take a lot longer than usual!

Thanks.
John


1 comment:

John Garvey said...

A follow-up email sent on 3 July 2016:

Michael,

I just happened to re-read the email I sent you back in May and found myself thinking "Why did he take offense to this? Everything I said was conditional, if/then statements. 'If this doesn't apply, then disregard it.'" (You probably deleted the email then and don't remember what I'm talking about, so I've included it below. Just in case.)

I apologize that the email was so wordy. I tend to edit myself over time and didn't take the time then to chop it down to less than half its length. I think you probably saw the length, thought it was a long screed, and only skimmed it. So you may have missed all the good parts.

You probably saw "Receiving a glowing review from you was a wonderful experience." It's true, it was. When you read "You knew someone like me would display your author information on every webpage around the world to which he has access," did you see that I also said "I'm not convinced that's true, I just suspect." I'm still not convinced you would take advantage of a writer you considered talentless to promote a book. Your integrity was obvious in your first email when you wrote "If I can in good faith recommend it I will."

When I said "If someone is as mentally deficient as that, their opinion really doesn't carry a lot of weight with me," I was referring to the other guys mentioned in the paragraph, not you. I ended the paragraph with "If it's not true, which is quite possible, then this whole paragraph should be disregarded. Never mind." I pictured Rosanne Rosanna Danna from SNL long ago when I wrote "never mind." The paragraph doesn't describe you so pffft it disappears.

Most everything should've been edited out. What I was actually saying was "Please be me friend/mentor." It wouldn't entail any more for you than one or two emails a year, but it would be so beneficial to me. What could I do in exchange? A mentor arrangement requires an exchange, but I don't know what I could provide you with, other than food, in whimsical shapes. Is there any merchandise on Zazzle.com that I could custom-design for you and gift you with? Probably not, but it's available.

My left brain is saying Stop writing. This time I'll listen.

Thanks.
John