A few days ago I started penning a memoir as a way of coming out of a period of creative dormancy.
This post–the part that follows this intro–is an excerpt from that not-yet-titled autobiographical work.
This will be my second autobiography. The first one was called Blue Yonder. It was never published even though I sent it off to several literary agents in NYC (and elsewhere) and was able to generate considerable interest. M****** K******–I don’t remember the name of the agency she worked for–strung me along for months. She liked the manuscript but requested a few rewrites which I completed. She also asked me to write up a book proposal. Again, I obliged.
I sent the proposal off and she took a long while reviewing it. She came back with a critique of my marketing plan. She asked me to do a little research on how to market a work of nonfiction and then resubmit the proposal. Being the good boy that I am, I did all that she asked.
To make a long story short, she eventually, after giving me the run around and building my hopes up, sent a cursory rejection note. This had been the culmination of months of work on my part and lots of to and fro emailing.
This whole experience taught me lessons. For one, my writing is good enough. (She even told me so.) Secondly, her sole reason for rejecting me was rooted in the fact I hadn’t proved to her that I could be a good salesman. By the way, I never, not once, not even in the initial query letter, promised that I was an experienced hawker of books. (Isn’t it asking enough that one be able to write one?) Wasn’t she supposed to do something other than contact the publishing houses after I’d put years of labor into the project? Her webpage promised that she would be with her authors every step of the way. Did she really mean that or were those just pretty words?
What M****** wanted was to ride me like a donkey. I was supposed to carry her to the place where all the money could be found and then she would jump off my back long enough to fill her saddlebags with dough. Had I signed up with her and had book sales lagged, I sure she would have taken out a stick and flogged me on my butt along with digging her spurs into my flanks.
Anyway, I’m ready to try again, but not with M******. The first couple of pages of the first-draft of this second attempt can be found below:
My heart is untroubled, and my face wears a permanent smile. When I close my eyes and try to visualize what I look like, in my current state, I see myself as a contented Buddha-like character, sitting with crossed legs under a lotus tree.
I’m speaking metaphorically, of course, as well as beating around the bush. I’m trying to say that I’m in one of those rare good places in my life where everything seems to have worked out perfectly well and now, as a result, I am truly happy. I don’t know if this wonderful turn of events happened because I was able to engineer it to be so or if it’s the result of pure dumb luck.
Most of the last two years—up until about four months ago—have been damned hard, and I was, during that period of darkness, not at all feeling blissful. Looking back at my recent past, I could say—without being guilty of anything that even remotely resembles exaggeration—that I’ve just come through hell. On my trip through the fiery pit, I got a bit singed but wasn’t wholly reduced to ashes.
My story starts on the evening of July 2, 2015, the day I landed at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport in Austin, Texas, and was greeted by my father and stepmother. I hardly remember my arrival in Texas’ capital because I was so exhausted. I’m sure that the three of us talked about how my flights had gone and other inane subjects while we waited for my two pieces of luggage to find their way onto the baggage carousel conveyor belt and then into my hands. We then made our way to my parents’ parked car, loaded my suitcases into its trunk, and drove the whole kit and caboodle to Georgetown, Texas, a beautiful, smallish city that’s located just up Interstate 35 about half an hour or so. Once in Georgetown and at my folks’ place, I went immediately to bed and slept the fitful sort of semi-slumber I always have after completing one of my international sojourns.
This particular trip had been a really long one. I’d started it in Cairo, Egypt, and had passed over portions of three continents—Africa, Europe, and North America—and two significant bodies of water—the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. I’d had a long layover at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle International Airport where I wiled away the hours awaiting my next flight by wandering among souvenir shops and looking at tiny, plastic versions of the Eiffel Tower. My movements through said shops bore a strong resemblance to the way a zombie might wander in a post-apocalyptic landscape. On a side note, many people who travel by plane have the good fortune of being able to sleep aboard those big birds as they cruise high above terra firma, but I am not blessed like this, which means that I always have to find ways to kill time. Often, while on board, I achieve this by drinking as much alcohol as my belly and bladder can hold. This method is tried and true for me and I took full advantage of it as I made my slow way over land and sea…