Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Beginning of the End

Today’s meeting with my publisher could not have gone worse. A total disaster. The meeting was set-up to hear what my new editor thought of my final manuscript and to meet the production department. I went into the meeting light on my feet–confident and smiling. 90 minutes later I felt like I was exiting a boxing ring, punch drunk with bad news. The last time I had such a drop in my stomach was twenty years ago when I was walking out of the Smithaven Mall out in Long Island right after being dumped the first time I was in love.

Like that fateful day at A & S department store, I was blindsided. Ideas of creating the perfect “gift-book” filled the conference room. And once I heard the book dimensions were to be 5” x 7” it pushed me over the edge–I don’t remember much said after that. The edits on the book included cutting 8,000 out of the 38,000 I turned in. At the time, I was thinking that’s almost half the book! What happened? She was such a sweet, innocent–looking editor. Why did I do to make her hate me so? The last time we meet I remember we had this great lunch.

I had spent five years writing and researching this book on snowmen and practically bankrupted myself. The others in the room were not in on the scam. I didn’t know I needed them. In 2001 I had enough of pleasing art directors, sending cold pitches to magazines, sketching a dozen cartoons for every one that passed snuff. The plan was to write books. Disappear for months at a time and find an agent and editor who are too busy to edit me heavily. The first book I started, a comedy about 18th century Arctic exploration, I quickly realized would not open any doors for me. That would have to be my second (or third) book. No, that first book would have to sell. Make my mark and then write books that nobody wants to read. So I walked into Barnes & Noble and imagined looking for a book I wanted to buy. It happened to be the holidays and all I saw at the front tables were cookbooks and spiritual crap. What about a holiday book for Jews? Atheists? I’m Catholic but even I’m sick to death of Santa Claus, which come to think of it, has nothing to do with Jesus. Then it hits me; The History of the Snowman. Since that moment I started quitting my regular gigs I took for granted and started buying snowmen from yard sales. Earlier this year I traveled through Europe to meet with historians who were gathering whatever information they could find for me about the first snowmen man made. The project has since cost me, easily, $50,000, about $6,000 on eBay alone.

This was to be my breakout laundry truck leaving the prison, me stowed away under a pile of smelly underwear clinging to the hopes of a book about snowmen. The moment when that art director suggested marketing my book for placement at the registers, (killing any chance of the book being reviewed, garnering respect, or triggering other book deals) that laundry truck pulled into another prison. My plan, I see now, was flawed.

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Anonymous said...

Good start...

susan E. Carter Carter said...

Bob, I just got my first look at your blog and LOVE IT!
It has pathos, comedy and hubris. WHat more can one ask for? SO who will play "you" in the movie?
I think Pitt is too slick and Depp is too "Keith Richards" Maybe MICHAEL Richards! I think he's looking for a new gig these days and the hair is right.
Hang in there, buddy. (Opps, Don't take that literally,please. Keep the faith, baby)
Savor each day,

Gerry Conteras said...

So this is what you've been doin' with your time instead of calling me and having me lovingly berate you?

I hope I'll at least make the guest list of your book party, Wayne, Pete and Ken for the cheap box white wine and "Gouda nuff" cheez. Xo