When I went back to college in the 1990s I was told I had to take English 214 or I could not graduate.
Taking an English class when English is one’s first language is slightly humiliating and not as easy as one might think. I learned that Americans take way too much for granted, we think we speak and write English perfectly, only to find out, we don’t! Plus, English teachers single out those who are English majors and those who are not, my major was Developmental Psychology. I learned that unless you adored English or were exceptionally smart there was no way the teacher would give non-English majors an A or B. I think I left college with a B- or a C in English 214. But I passed.
I learned how elitist some situations in life can be. This rings true in the literary world as well.
People like J.K. Rowling; Toni Morrison; Ann Rice; John Grissom; Steven King are in the literary world experts in their fields worthy of being recognized because they put forth the effort to major in writing or English lit. Or, they had agents like Ms. Rowling to help them push their work. Or, some of them had been published before they became famous, so they had credentials. Good for them, but that leaves some of us artists out of the loop.
When I was an actor, I could not find work because I was not a working actress and I could not be a working actress because I could not find work. That Catch 22 type situation bothered the hell out of me. And it still stinks today. People like Kim Kardashian who possess no talent, but is a celebrity because she has a marketing genius for a mother and because she hung out with noted people like Paris Hilton and Ray J to help her get seen, now has major endorsements going for her. A real actor or singer who wants to be in the industry has to jump through hoops an hurdles to get over, but people like Kim can glide in on big booties and sex tapes. How nice. So-called author James Fry tricked Oprah Winfrey into thinking he was a literary genius, but his book was found to be a fake she later learned, should have said something to the industry. He studied art, went to LA and became a screen writer and producer and director, got an agent, wrote a book on alcohol and drug abuse, got it published, got on Oprah then revealed his book was a fake. Okay, well then if those people can make it, a dyslexic, hearing impaired Psych major with no major writing credentials should get attention for my work, right?
I am on my fifth rejection from lit agents and publishers, yet none of them give me details as to why they don’t like my project. Second, when you submit most of them prefer that you submit to them singularly which means you might have to wait a few weeks or a few months just to hear back from an agent or publisher one at a time. How stupid is that? You make people wait just to hear them say no? Ridiculous.
Look, I know there is no easy way to getting “over” as the saying goes, but I am not a liar, I don’t hang out with noted celebs, nor do I have a sex tape and my booty is flatter than a one-egg pie. I don’t subscribe to that old adage of it is “who you know, who you do, what lies you tell or how much money you have to pay your way in” it’s just not for me.
I think that when an opportunity presents itself someone with authority should listen, regardless of where that opportunity comes from. Don’t discriminate because you never heard of the person or because the word count is too low or too high. Simply look at what they presented, commend them for their efforts and even if you don’t accept their project hook them up with someone who might.
To all the publishers and agents out there who refuse to acknowledge fledgling writers all over the world, writers whose voices are rudely quieted…GET OVER YOURSELVES AND RECOGNIZE THOSE OF US WHO ARE NON-ENGLISH MAJORS! DON’T BEHAVE LIKE SHORT-SIGHTED FOOLS! Until then, I am moving forward with more queries, more submissions and more hope. I am…
“…Fallen down, but not destroyed.”
Journey, song lyrics from the album Trial by Fire 1996