Posts Tagged ‘Cleveland’

I’m naive, I admit it

March 28, 2010

One of my goals has always been to be published. By a major publishing company. With an editor. And, most importantly, a nice advance that could (maybe) pay my bills for a bit. I also always sorta expect a publishing house to be helpful in pushing me (or any author) in the right direction regarding publicity of said work.

Then I read this blog by Mitzi Szereto.

Then I read this page by Jim Cox at the Midwest Book Review.

Then I talked to a couple of other friends of mine who are knee (well, shoulder) deep in MFA Master/PhD programs.

And I discovered how horribly naive I really am about the whole publishing mess. Any hope that a publisher would help a writer succeed appears blind and destined for failure. Want to do readings? Book’em yourself. Want to get reviewers to read the thing? Send them copies.

Unfortunately, if you’re like me (and you’re probably not, so you’re fine), you don’t really interact well with people. Or maybe you are like me which means that, like me, you have some work to do. for the first time, networking is taking on a clear importance and meaning.  Friends (or at least people who want to remain acquaintances and who may later ask you for a favor) are essential.

But how do you make friends, especially in a world where you are literally a tiny fish in a MASSIVE sea? I come from a small ass town in SE Michigan. I have lately moved to Cleveland.  Not exactly the center of the universe or, especially, the literary universe (Though Dan Chaon lives about 10 minutes away, and I guess Harvey Pekar lives somewhere in this town, so there’s some people whose names are at least noticeable on bookshelves). Given such a situation, it’s easy to look around and wonder how the hell you’re supposed to meet/greet/schmooze anyone.

Well, first, send stuff out. Obvious answer. People like you enough to publish you, on their dime, that’s a great first step in fostering allegiances to call on when needed. Second, use the web. Search for blogs and websites related to your interests/writings/etc. And comment. Say stuff. It’s easy, even if you do look like a naive nit (such as I on Mitzi’s blog). And just know that it’s going to happen. Don’t be an ass. Just be you (unless you are an ass then try to be something less you).

As I crawl, drag, stagger towards finishing the (first) re-write of my first novel I have considered hurling into the world, I’ve started taking these steps. And credit goes to people like Mitzi Szerato and Jim Cox for erecting islands of illumination in the publishing darkness. Eventually, I hope to provide something similar. Until then, I’ll keep plugging away and trying to be a bit less naive.

And I’ll try to shake more hands.

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Mac’s Backs Paperbacks – Store Review

August 2, 2009

I’ve finally had the opportunity to get out and look at one of the used book stores in cleveland. It’s a little place called Mac’s. The lady working there was nice and helpful. Oddly enough, for a small bookstore, I get the impression that she may not have been either an owner or a long time employee. This isn’t a bad thing, just sort of odd in face of my prior experiences with little used bookstores.

On the plus side is a very solid selection for such a small store. It’s not even close to being the largest used bookstore I’ve been in but they do a good job of hitting pretty much every major author you could want, especially newer authors. They also have a commendable selection of children’s books, something more appreciated by me since I’ve started going around with a 5 yr old in tow.

The selection also leads to a bit of a negative – the pricing. The reason they have so many newer authors is that they have, well, new books mixed in with the old books. This is annoying in that you walk down an aisle and you see something and think you have a nice little find, only to pull it out and see the thing is fullpriced. For some paying fullprice for a book is no big deal. For me, considering I’m looking through a usedbookstore and won’t shop from borders unless I have a nice sized coupon, it’s a bit of a roadblock. But it’s not a huge deal.

what’s a bigger pain in the butt is that they have three or four different pricing methods. I’ve seen pretty much every pricing method. from prices written in the corner of the first page, to little stickers to big stickers to just prices posted on a wall.  For some reason this little store tried an “all of the above” approach.  So be prepared to look for prices.

All in all, not a bad shop. If you’re in cleveland, check it out.

Mac’s Backs Paperbacks

concrete jungle makes for creative nature poetry

July 20, 2009

Alright, I’m lying. It’s not really creative nature poetry. But it’s nature poetry with a bit of a different slant to it. I’ve always lived in the country.  I’ve always had a backyard. My childhood memories include my parents using cigarettes or salt to get leeches off my legs after walking through the creek at my grandparent’s place.  The most amazing thing I have ever seen is a tie between the clear night sky from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and the clear night sky from western nebraska.  Though the obscenely cute little ass of a woman I used to date places a dmn close third.

Living in cleveland now, walking around a bit, I see how nature is a commodity in places like this. Trees and bushes are hemmed in by concrete and trimmed to pleasing shapes. The night sky is a void. The only thing that seems to have some power of its own is the sky and the weather. It just rolls in and rolls out oblivious to our wants and cares but I bet that someday even that will change and come under our control.

Back to the nature poetry. An emphasis on the poesy. What I’m saying is that nature isn’t even nature here. There are a lot of beautiful homes, cute shops, well manicured lawns, etc. etc. etc., but it seems to be in a battle against a ridgic control by people who want it to simply be in its place and be pretty and its desire to live. Working on filling up a book of poetry loosely centered around nature and the difference between what I was able to write about before and what I am writing about now is stark on the page. It becomes fairly clear that not only the roads planned haphazardly and a bit on the fly but nature was an afterhtought as well. It makes me think of a book I read a couple of years ago about the city of Los Angeles and how it has been hit by disaster after disaster, from earthquakes to tornados, and how because of poor city planning it is also ripe to be hit by fires to poorly contstructed tenement buildings and other assorted man made disasters.  Cleveland makes met think of this. Whether I should be connecting the two or not I don’t know, I doubt it, but the connection is already there in my head.

Should make for interesting poetry, though.

cleveland sucks and I’m fairly certain I don’t care for people as a general rule

May 17, 2009

We made our trip to cleveland this weekend and it was an unmitigated disaster. We didn’t get to see half of the apartments because the rep. who was supposed to show us around stood us up, another rented the room out and didn’t have any others to show us, and the other showed us one room in our price range and one that wasn’t in our price range.

We got lost trying to find our way home because I was told that she had already gotten all of the mapquest crap that we needed except a map on how to get the hell out of this place and, oh yeah, there were a ton of fucking people. Which I’m not a big fan of.

Apparently when I later make comments about the next two years being a waste of my life this sorta betrays my dislike for Cleveland and pretty much every thing currently associated with it and has a tendency to upset my girlfriend. Which, in turn, makes my life more needlessly drama filled and annoying.

All I really want, I think, now, at this point, is to be left alone by the vast majority of society. Surface connections online are great, some family stuff is fine but, beyond that, fuck it.  This isn’t even saying that everyone is horrible or some such blather. I just don’t deal well with people and I don’t care much for change. My dream is to have a nice big fucking house in the middle of the country with a lot of land around it and few neighbors. 

on top of that, while having sex saturday night, I had a bizarre vision of a car accident on, I think, I480 (?) heading in/out of cleveland.  This was one of the most bizarre experiences I have ever had as I felt as if I was literally somewhere/somewhen else and seeing something that I had never witnessed before but was strangely meant to see. Honestly, it has kind of upset me. I also haven’t told anyone about it but I’m willing to blog it. I guess I still suffer from a certain degree of false perception of anonymity.  But I guess I can officially say I had a vision and it hasn’t improved my opinion of the move to cleveland.

lost in cleveland and abandoned by real estate

May 16, 2009

My g/f and I went to cleveland today to view apartments. We were only looking in one area and had six lined up for the day. Around noon, while driving in to Cleveland, we got a call from one of the agents showing us an apartment today to tell us that the apartment was rented but he could show us some others. He would call us back when he found something in the area and price range we were looking for.

The first place we stopped at was nice. First they showed us an apartment that was about a hundred dollars out of our price range but it was nice. Then they showed us a second apartment that was within our price range. It was less nice, with smaller closets, but still quite livable. We thanked them and promised to stay in touch.

Then we waited around for the agent who had called us earlier to call back. They never did, but that was fine, too, as it gave us time to sit down and get something to eat. It was a little diner, loud but good. I think the waiter was worried I was going to stiff him a tip because I didn’t put a tip on the bill. I left a five on the table when I left and, looknig back, I hope he got it. I wondered if a busboy wouldn’t simply pocket it. I don’t know.

At three we had an appointment to see three more apartments, including one which was the clear front runner from what we had seen on the internet when we did our first scouting around the area. We found where the offices were and went up and knocked on the door but no one was around. We were a bit early so we waited. Then we waited some more. The people never showed.

So we had driven 3 hours to look at 6 apartments and ended up looking at just one in our price range while getting a chance to just walk around the area a bit. My g/f was dejected a bit from this. I just wanted to come home. And I couldn’t help but notice that, while driving around, I kept seeing all of these little red signs that said “Snow Street” on them. I know cleveland gets a lot of snow, sitting on the lip of Lake Erie and all, but this was sort of the first hammer blow sinking that nail in. They get a lot of snow.

Needless to say I am a bit apprehensive about all of this. She keeps reminding me that it won’t be long. A year and a half, really, but it is closer to two years. It’s a long time, really, when put up against the shortness of our lives. Two years can represent a fairly significant chunk of it.

In the end, I’m just not sure about any of this. I want to be sure and supportive but the whole endeavor has me digging my heels in and saying, “Wait.”