Monday, December 17, 2007

2007: A Rebuilding Year

“Rebuilding year.”

Here in D.C., you hear that a lot. Nobody wants the Washington Redskins to make the Playoffs more than I do, but over the years, I’ve learned my lesson. Once a team blows a whole season, the coach usually attributes the whole debacle to the team having a “rebuilding year.” Last month’s tragic death of Sean Taylor aside, I imagine that the “rebuilding year” will be the old standby once the Super Bowl becomes, again, the unattained goal for the Skins.

I can relate to the Skins this year. 2007 has been my rebuilding year. I prefer “rebuilding year” to “annus horribilis.” This was the year that the writing career began to feel like slogging through mud. This year, rejections rained down on The Kid – that would be me – like dollars that Floyd Mayweather throws up in the club. And we know how Floyd can make it rain. It’s quite humbling when, as an author who’s sold a respectable number of books, I still get rejections from editors who don’t even have the common courtesy to spell my name right, or who put their names on rejection letters written by their lower paid minions, on whom I’ve been fobbed.

This year, I parted ways with my management, beginning the long hard road to finding a new literary agent. And you all know how much fun that can be. It amazes me that some agents can’t even be bothered to lick the SASE that they’ve insisted you enclose, once they’ve decided not to represent you. Apparently, some authors aren’t even worth the saliva needed to seal an envelope.

This year, I’ve begun to wonder if being a writer is worth dealing with the business of publishing. The aptly named business end of the industry is hard, cold, devoid of any imagination, which is weird, considering that the fruits of our imagination prime the pump. Case in point. I have a friend who’s an exceedingly talented author. I mean, the brothah’s bottom-of-the-ocean deep. His use of prose and mastery of the English language are second to none. He quotes German philosophers in his jacket copy to button up his point. This brothah says he’s done with the industry, which couldn’t be any sadder. The publishing house he recently left probably has no idea of their loss.

But 2008 is coming, and the advent of a New Year brings the promise of hope. Writers have power. Just look to California at the strike that Screenwriters Guild of America is waging, demanding that writers get their fair share of DVD profits. Late night TV is a wasteland of reruns. I can’t even get my Bill Maher fix on HBO, because, as funny as Bill is, he needs folks to put words into his mouth. All we have to look forward to watching is Dance War: Bruno Versus Carrie Ann and other crappy reality shows as the strike goes on. “The Winter of Our Dissed Content,” one writer had scribbled on his strike placard. And I can’t steal a sports metaphor – “rebuilding year” – without mentioning Randy Moss. Last year, Randy Moss couldn’t have gotten arrested, which, let’s face it, is lately an exception for an NFL player. Now he’s on the receiving end of Tom Brady’s rifle of an arm. He’s playing for the New England Patriots, who, as of yesterday, are 14-0, making the first team in the league with that distinction since 1972.

So, in 2008, I’ll channel Randy Moss and the screenwriters and extrapolate their triumphs into my hopes and dreams for the future. The film version of my second book, What You Won’t Do For Love, is going along smoothly in pre-production. I’m continuing on the Femme Fantastik Tour with Lori Bryant Woolridge, ReShonda Tate Billingsley, Trisha R. Thomas, Carmen Green, and Berta Platas. I’ll also join my fellow Black Greeks on the Divine Literary Tour. Moreover, I’ve received a wonderful write-up in the 2008 Bahamas Handbook, which should open me up to a wider audience. God willing.

About the craft itself, I’ve written a wonderfully poignant story called, Triptych, about how love and the strong bonds of family transcend death and the passage of time. I think you’ll like it when you get a chance to read it. If that doesn’t happen with a mainstream publisher, I’ll publish it myself, which is the route that other established but under-appreciated authors are taking as of late. For inspiration, I look at the great and wildly accomplished Deepak Chopra, one of the pioneers in mind-body medicine, who’s sold millions of books worldwide. I bet few people know that he was once a self-published author.

To be continued. Until then, please, have a safe and joyous holiday. See you back here in 2008…