Friday, October 31, 2008

No Guts, No Glory

...or "How To Chicken Out"

I had a conversation today with a talented guy who illustrates covers for New Yorker magazine. He's also illustrated several children's books. I happen to have written (recorded, actually) what I think is a children's book, and I knew I was going to run into this guy today, so I prepared for it.

About five years back, and pretty much out of nowhere, I was helping my kid with her homework, but I guess I kind of ran with the ball and ended up with a six minute recording of a story for kids. I sent it around to some people I knew, just for the fun of it. I actually got a pretty good response. Some folks spent a good 15 minutes on the phone with me, imploring me to have it illustrated and turned into a full-on book. They said it painted a real word-picture. I enjoyed the comments, and pretty much just filed the info away.

So after five years of thinking about it, researching illustrators, checking into publishers, forgetting about it, remembering it, doubting whether or not it was even any good, waiting for the excitment of it to wear off, listening again and deciding I liked it... yeah, I was prepared for today. I brought along a CD to hand to this guy.

The plan fell apart almost immediately after that.

It kind of came off the rails when he mentioned that he thinks he's done his last children's book "for a good long while." He went on to say how he wants to watch his kid play hockey, spend more time with his family, and just generally not work so hard with his hand constantly cramped up in that hook shape all day. Illustration, it turns out, is quite time-consuming.

Any thought that I had about my story being different or particularly illustrative or maybe even inspiring, well that all went right out the window pretty quick, and I didn't bother even getting the CD out of my bag.

What's wrong with that? Well I just gave up, didn't I? I like to think that's not the kind of guy I am. I say, let's not trouble ourselves with the particulars of whether or not the conversation has the right emotional dynamic, or - I don't know, whatever else Dr. Phil can dream up. I'm more the let's-just-get-to-"yes" type.

Would it have really been so wrong for me to hand him a CD and say, "Look, I'd like you to just give this a listen. I think you might enjoy it" ? And what's the big deal if he says "No thanks"? Are we likely to part ways with a relationship any different than the one we had two minutes ago? Let me answer that one for you. "No."

So I guess if I'm gonna do this, I have to try it the "normal" way. I have to submit to a publisher and get it thrown on the gigantic pile of works that are submitted every day, and hope that whomever finally hears it isn't having a bad day at the time.

Yeah, I mean, why use an "in"?

Stupid. See - this is why I hate Halloween.

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