Tag Archives: Publishing

One Man’s Trash is …Well, Another Man’s Trash

Air pressure crushing a plastic bottle p1180559

Air pressure crushing a plastic bottle p1180559 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Have you ever noticed that nowadays we tend to measure the amount of any particular product by placing said product end to end and speculating how far the object will reach?  For instance, a particular company packages two hundred fifty million boxes of frozen lima beans each year.  A company spokesman will then say, “We manufacture enough product that if placed end to end would reach from New York to Sarasota, Florida and back.”  Or the bubble gum company that claims it produces so many pieces that if placed end to end would reach to the moon and back seven and a half times.

These claims seem a bit outlandish but you get the general idea.  There is one more that I cannot resist verbalizing.  I’m going to say this in my best attempt to avoid a hull-a-baloo.  The United States drinks enough clear non-carbonated beverages in clear containers to stretch around the world less than one hundred ninety one times, or so we are told.

Now I’m all for being a good steward while I live on this planet.  I believe we should keep our water clean, our air pure, and take care of, in so far as we can, this beautiful planet that God has given us to live on. But I just can’t get excited about a plastic bottle being buried in dirt whether it takes thirty minutes or a half a billion years to decompose.

The formula seems rather simple to me.  We unscrew a top. We drink the substance contained within the bottle. We may choose to screw the top back on and then discard the container or discard the top separately.  This trash will soon find its way into a landfill (which by the way is put there to bury plastic bottles and other implements of indestructible plastic) where it will sit more than likely being covered with a carpet of  grass when the landfill has fulfilled its purpose.  Perhaps a housing project will be constructed in this area.  And in this housing project people will be discarding plastic bottles and other implements of indestructible plastic into new landfills.

As you can see this is the plastic cycle of life and I for one fear to trod on such an institution that has persevered for such a lengthy time span.

If we were to take a shovel and dig into one of these long dead landfills there would be much that we could learn.  First off we would find that it is still full of trash.  Secondly (and this applies to the craft of writing) we would also learn that as we cut through the garbage we create a clearing that exposes the direction in which we are trying to lead our readers without the unnecessary clutter.

So you see…. (excuse me while I open a bottle of water….glug…glug…glug) keep your story clean, keep your water pristine………………………………..can’t think of anything that rhymes with “clean” or “pristine” so I guess I’m done!

Leave a comment

Filed under On writing

They Don’t Mak’em Like They Used To

How many times have you heard “Boy, they sure don’t mak’em like they used to.” ?  And I’ll have to say, I’m certainly glad they don’t.  Take for instance your average house–in the good ole days bricks were laid right on dirt with no foundation.  It makes for a nice Dr. Seuss look-alike dwelling but hardly better than the concrete foundations of today.  True, some of the craftsmanship in the ornate trim work has been lost, but I’ll trade that for a roof that’s not constructed from 2 x 4’s.

How about the one, “I sure would like to live back in the olden days.”  I don’t know…would I rather drink a bottle of liquor or have a shot of Novocaine to have that pesky tooth pulled? Four men holding me down and a forty percent blood alcohol level with little pain relief tells me that things are a lot better today than a hundred years ago…at least in the dental profession.

Oh!  I forgot one more thing…did you want to eat tonight?  Well, just in case you did, better clean up the ole rifle Tex.  Times a wastin’ and we’re all out of firewood…and don’t forget to draw some water from the crick.

Now on to the world of writing. The quill pen was commonly used by 700 A.D.  The first pens were made from bird feathers.  The major problem with these writing implements was their longevity.  After about a week the writer had to once again chase a bird down and unceremoniously jerk another feather from its wing.  This lead to a larger than normal population of flightless birds who attempted to evolve into penguins, but falling way short, died ostracized from their bird brethren and featherless reminders of man’s insatiable appetite to write with things that don’t last.

In 1795, Nicholas Conte developed the process used to make pencils.  Now at long last the world could write to their hearts content.  It soon came to the attention of these ecstatic writers of the word that mistakes were inevitable.  I want you to follow me close on this.    In 1844, Charles Goodyear patented the process to make erasers more commonplace.  This brings in a bit of thought provoking thought that would provoke the average thinker.

How did the human race tolerate and manage such a stressful situation with fifty years of mistakes and no foreseeable solution?  Answer:  The war of 1812.  On a sad note, the pencil sharpener was not patented until 1897.  No further information is available on this bleak period of history.

To sum up:  You can push that button and watch as the magical computer comes to life allowing you to start that great American novel you’ve always been meaning to write or start rubbing two sticks together and the next time you go out for dinner make sure you bag a duck, cause you’re gonna need something to write with.


Filed under On writing


Who came first, the publisher or the agent?…wait!…I know what you’re thinking. He’s asking  THE question!…    You know…THE question that’s plagued mankind since the dawn of time, rearing its ugly head when the first stone chiseling cave man, Rocky Stoningway, tried to publish the gripping granite tablet, “The Old Man and the Cave,” and the riveting sequel “For Whom the Boulder Falls.” I will admit it was easier then, as there was only one author, (the aforementioned Rocky Stoningway), one agent (Cenozoic and Sons Tablet Chiseling Agency L.L.C.)  and The Big Bang Publishing Co. Ltd. (the only publisher).

Today there are hundreds of agents and publishers to service thousands upon thousands of writers. The problem, other than the shear number of writers to publishers, is that most publishers will not accept unsolicited manuscripts. Which means…drum roll…enter the agent. Agents would rather represent published authors… Talk about a rock and a hard place. It’s more like a catch twenty-six and a half or something.

The conundrum in all of this is that all three parties have valid concerns. Writers want to be published and certainly should be if their work warrants it, as many do. Agents have to be particular about who they represent  else they lose credibility with their publishers. And publishers stand to lose a lot of money if they take a chance on a book that doesn’t sell. I’m not trying to pass myself off as some all knowing authority on the subject–I’m just relaying my personal experiences and what I’ve learned along the way.

It’s a tough business if a business is how you care to look at it. I prefer to embrace the passion I have for the written word, work tirelessly (but not if it truly becomes work) in order to publish, and go to all ends marketing the book. If your novel is the greatest book ever written that won’t be known if it’s never read. The one thing you’ll have to learn to accept is refusal of your work. Just never give up. (My therapist says in another year or so I should be able to handle rejection again.)

If you take anything away from this let it be this…work hard, develop thick skin, marketing is essential (no one’s going to sell your book for you) and above all, have fun…gotta run I’m late for my therapy session.

Leave a comment

Filed under On writing