Another Day in Long Beach — Networking, Confronting Rejection, and Chaos Theory

It’s impossible to know whom I’m going to meet during my writing journey.  It’s impossible to predict the turns and outcomes of certain roads.  And it’s impossible to understand the repercussions of my actions and decisions, but it helps to try and predict them and be realistic, right?  This seems, to me, the leading cause of fear – uncertainty of the future.

But there might be another way to perceive uncertainty without feeling anxiety.  For example, instead of freaking out about not knowing the future, I could choose to see the unknown as a positive.

Like my buddy Nick Garnett said to me when I moved to Los Angeles: “You shouldn’t worry about the outcome,” he said, driving in his Alpha Romero.  I was leaving in a week.  “Be excited to find out what’s going to happen.”

Well, I can’t say that I live without anxiety.  It’s there.  But one way to get rid of that anxiety, I have found, is to be out in nature, take my dog to the beach, go on a run, and, most importantly, believe in a positive outcome.

Okay, okay, enough of the motivational speech crap.  It’s just that right now I feel good.  I have been sending out e-mails, telling people about my plan, and asking them if they need any help.  And I have come across some people who are excited about their publications.  It looks like I might be able to contribute.  (Not going to reveal any names.  I just feel weird about that.)  It’s just a great feeling to find that when you put your voice out there, someone answers.  And you never know who is going to answer.

Now, it’s time for me to tell you about some rejection I had recently.  Like I wrote in the previous post, I’m trying to publish my book.  And in April of this year, I was lucky enough to have a very excellent literary agent respond favorably to my query letter – a short letter explaining my book.  After the agent reads the query letter, they either request a partial (usually around 50 pages) or the full manuscript.  When an agent requests the full manuscript, well, that’s a big deal.

And this agent was my dream agent.  Well, one of my dream agents.  And months went by without a response.  It took her three months to respond to my initial query anyway.  I pretty much gave up on her, thinking she passed on the book without saying anything, but last Friday, I saw her e-mail in my inbox.

When I saw her name, I scrolled through my phone, pushed the e-mail button, and waited while my old phone loaded the message.  Finally, the e-mail opened, and I started to read.  After a few sentences, I knew it was a rejection.  I knew she had passed on the book.  I knew months of waiting were over without a reward.

But as I read the e-mail, it turned out that it was a positive rejection.  In fact, she liked the book.  She was upset that she had to pass on the book, because she could tell I was a talented writer.  She just couldn’t figure out a way to revise the book, without changing the qualities she liked, to appeal to major publishing houses.  She suggested I try independent houses, which she knew nothing about.

In the end, what I took away was that she – and this is agent speak – didn’t fall in love.

Throughout the course of my life, how many people have I come across?  How many of those people did I make eye contact with?  And how many of those people did I start a conversation with?  Aren’t there 6 billion people in the world?  Holy smokes, how do I ever make connections?  How do I ever network?  How do we ever find that right person who is going to help our careers, our friends, our loved ones?  Seriously, I found my dog in the Detroit-Metro pound.  He literally barged into the pound with his old owner and jumped into my lap.  How did that happen?

I guess what I’m trying to say is, there are people out there I feel we are supposed to come across.  I always think of chaos theory and Newton’s laws.  Chaos theory, to me, is the inability to predict, mathematically, outcomes.  We are unable to predict the spread of cancer cells, because the process happens at such a fast rate.  Or we’re unable to see the connections between the circumstances leading up to a person’s decision to delay a plane departure time and then running into a friend in a foreign country in some tiny coffee shop or the million tiny chain reactions needed to place a car on a collision course with a man on the way to the grocery store.  But just because we can’t see or predict the connections, does that mean there isn’t one?

2 thoughts on “Another Day in Long Beach — Networking, Confronting Rejection, and Chaos Theory”

  1. “But just because we can’t see or predict the connections, does that mean there isn’t one?”

    Connections within connections. The ties that unknowingly bind us all. The ending to your post reminds me of the series finale of Battlestar Galactica. (I’m a sci-fi fan, but you already knew that from Megan O’Neill’s Star Trek class back in undergrad.) The clip from the finale is below. For years, we’d (the fans) all been asking ourselves – in regard to the series’ ultimate journey – the same questions that you pose in this blog. Here’s the clip (which, I don’t know… might mean something to even the non-BSG fans. Let me know on that one).

    Every time I see that clip, I’m reminded of the convergence of chaos. The written word to the spoken word. Music to mystery. Faith to science. Poetry to the screen.

    But more interestingly enough, now, after my visit to Los Angeles at the end of July, I realize that the script of the finale contains no provocative imagery descriptions, notes of flashbacks to previous episodes, connections between music, math, and faith. What we see on the screen is far more fleshed out than what’s actually on the page.

    So I ask myself, as an aspiring screen (T.V.) writer, what does the written word really mean? How do we as writers define the importance of what we put on the page? Is the script god? Is it a blueprint? Or is it merely a suggestion?

    All good questions. I know that, for me, personally, the script should be a guide, a suggestion to the people who bring it to life. But then, if we say that, what role do writers play in bringing some thing to life?

    Obviously, in the novel, the written word is god. It has to be. It’s what we have that allows ourselves to become immersed in the world that’s being created before our very eyes.

    But what about the Harry Potter books? When they were new (by that I mean before the movies), I remember everyone thinking that Harry’s scar was in the middle of his forehead. Yet that’s never stated anywhere in the books. And the movies show the forehead scar located elsewhere. So where in the text did so many people pick up “middle of forehead” from? Is it just that we gravitate, as humans, toward symmetry and perfection even in disfigurement? Or was there a clue hidden in the words after all? I don’t know. But something happened there between the written word and what imprinted on the minds of the readers.

    And this all goes back to the link of the finale of BSG. What does it mean that something that so many fans hold to be the holy grail of sci-fi series finale moments wasn’t even on the page this way? It certainly doesn’t take anything away from the experience of being a fan. Far from it. To me, it amplifies the curiosity, the desire to understand and push the boundaries of knowledge: to learn more. (Plus, it doesn’t hurt that the soaring musical score is all based around Jimi Hendrix’s version of “All Along the Watchtower.”)

    So if nothing is lost by altering the word on the page, then I arrive back – somewhat aggravatingly enough – at the original question: What does the written word really mean?

    I don’t know. But it has to mean something. Perhaps that’s the journey we as writers take – to find the answer to that question. After all, all this has happened before, and it will happen again. Don’t we just need to figure out what part of that continuum we’re on?

    (Wow. That turned into more of a blog post itself than as a response to yours. But it works. It is a response because this is what you’re post made me consider. So, yes. This works. And as I write that last line, “All Along the Watchtower” begins to play on my iTunes playlist. So that about wraps it up for me. Now: Shark Week on Discovery channel.)

  2. Hey Chris, thanks for sharing. I’m glad that my post ended up sparking your own flow. That’s great. Isn’t that the hope — to bring about more dialogue, more conversation, more questions?

    I enjoyed reading your thoughts. The clip was interesting, too. The connection between music and the keyboard and the decisions. Really like that. It seems that in a lot of ways, you’re writing not just about the word, but the writer’s quest for order, to create symmetry out of our chaotic lives. I like that a lot. I hope you’ll keep sharing what inspires you.

    It seems like L.A. had an impact on you, huh?

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