Some of my Saturdays are harder than others and the person responsible is Friday's bloguero Manuel Ramos who I have to follow biweekly. This is one of those weeks. I won't tell you all of what he wrote yesterday. I will say you should go here and read his essay that Ramos should get published in some significant, landmark collection of essays on Chicano lit. It's that good, comprehensive and the start of bigger questions that will be addressed, of necessity, but not only by me.
Below this post you'll find some evidence of how today can be termed some kind of Golden Age for Chicano/latino writers. I heartily agree with Ramos that if this is the golden times, La Bloga--beginning its ninth year--helped in more than spreading the word, and that our work has just started getting to be chingos of fun.
I can't add a significant contribution to Ramos' points. He begins from an Esquire Magazine article that posits: more U.S. readers are reading more and there are more of them. He then applies that observation about mainstream lit to the specifics of latinidad. Below is my personal take on that.
Golden age of writing para nosotros? Para mí.
- Like Ramos, I can't keep up with my pile of books by raza writers.
- That pile is neither current nor comprehensive.
- It's my golden year: 1 novel published by a small press, 1 children's fable in a national Spanish magazine, 1 SW fantasy reprinted in a Romanian anthology (in English), 1 sci-fi short accepted by icons of the SF (non-latino) world, 1 magic realism tale in an East Coast journal.
- A fantasy novella about ancient Mexico possibly published next year.
- My Chicano fantasy has received great reviews in the non-Chicano realm.
- I wrote 40k words in Nov., of a Young Adult fantasy novel.
- I've given up trying to get schools systems to let me teacher and am retiring to write full-time.
What's above sounds like it's all about me. It is to the extent that I'm some prototypical Chicano writer, whatever that is in a raza that's as varied-loco as our Global-Warmed climate.
In truth, what I listed above is not all rosas and fame. I didn't get reviews from places like Kirkus or NY Review of Books. Financially, I'll probably only be in the hole a few grand, after royalties, etc. My YA novel may not get published for a while and is not complete, either. Likewise the historical mexicano novella.
But I am prototypical in the sense that I've been writing forever, it sometimes seems (decades in my case), getting stories published specifically since 2008. That means that in four years I went from nada to mucho más. I don't believe I'm atypical. Lucky. Super gifted. I'm just a regular old Chicano spec writer. Writing up una tormenta this last month. So, opportunities that have been there for me are there for others, especially those who can become more successful than me because of their superior writing. So, it can't be just my golden age.
I am driven. Some days I write 8pp., on good days, 16pp. The ideas, plot, characters flow, easily. I don't think that comes only out of the addiction, which I confess to. Nor out of my own fantasy that through some milagro more of my art will see the lights of a bookstore shelf. In some esoteric, even ethereal sense, other writers' accomplishments--some of whom Ramos mentioned yesterday--are guiding, pushing and leading my labors of love. Otherwise, I can't explain all the sources for inspiration and production.
Another point, to Ramos and everyone. Si no es the Golden Age para la gente, qué importa? We're gonna write, anyway. We're gonna read it out loud on the back patio to our bilingual dog. We're going to read it at open mics, like Tía Chucha's. Some of us will self-publish it and qué importa there, either?
Lastly, what if la gente aren't reading us? In this consumer society, everything is about marketing. But I won't go there and say you have to become a marketing puto/a that many advocate to get your book noticed. Do it if you have the time/money and ganas.
I did become a marketing puto for my first book and I highly recommend it. Not because it produced incredible sales and wondrous reviews. But because after you sink half your life into months of active putoismo, it will drive you to make your next book a blockbuster so you can hire a publicist, secretary and chauffeur with your obscene royalties.
MORE importantly to Ramos' points, if la gente no está leyendo our stuff, maybe we need to reconsider our audience. Writing 101: Remember your audience. Now that you remembered you'd like more of your gente to pick up your story or book, ask: am I doing anything to NOT attract more raza readers? What do our people need in literature to drive them to read more, more often and books of more variety? If you have that answer, contact me so I can at least hire the publicist.
If there's enough gente to push Obama-of-the-little-results over the top, then there's more than enough to get several brown books in the top-ten best-seller lists. In the same week. For weeks. And then, again, in the same year. Since you're reading this, one of them could be yours.
Abstracts of An American Pageant:
Reality Principle of an Aphasic Metempsychosis
Jim Lopez of AntiqueChildren.com has a collection of essays with the above title. Below is his synopsis of this series of profound, abstract essays that is not for those unwilling to navigate the thoughts of one loco dude. But an educated, talented and intelligent one.
"Perhaps this collection of transgressive abstracts is the liturgical confessions of a man whose life is snug on coin; nevertheless, he may have found but then abandoned love in Italy, only to return to a perfidious life in the United States, where his childhood memories revealed the true meaning of value: Woman. It's possible that his predisposition for freedom was in opposition to a relentless hysteria that tried to distort his concept of worth, so perhaps he killed a man and became a tosspot toastmaster honoring crack whores to remind himself that there were worse things he could be. Heroin may have slammed through his friends who never overcame their addictions. Perhaps a new world lover in a DMT universe touched him as the pangs of aging surprised his trousers. Or, maybe, he simply joined the Shoe Shine Cowboy Express.
You can also click here to see the book trailer that gives you an idea of what lies within.
Tolerance in today's America
Go here to read a serious essay from Jimmy Franco Sr. of LatinoPOV. It's entitled: Thanksgiving: From Witch Hunts to Increasing Tolerance.
Walmart and Jon Stewart
In reference to my post last week, Support Walmart workers this holiday season: Protest, go watch this episode of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. It's funny. And saddening, gente.
Buy a cheap Closet for Xmas gifting
If you're wondering what to get your nephew who's pieced more than Julius Caesar, or your best friend who retired from accounting and now sells Zuni fetishes at the Burning Man event, look no further. During Dec. you get 25% off the Chicano fantasy novel, The Closet of Discarded Dreams, ebook format only (reg. price $6).
At check out, enter coupon code: 12PE9NGO4MDS
Good until 12-31-2012.
Available formats : epub (Nook compatible), pdf, mobi (Kindle compatible), lit (Microsoft Reader), and pdb (Palm)
To get the paperback 25% off (plus shipping), go here.
NaNoWriMo Consultation relate to you?
If you're like me and began a NaNoWriMo novel, you can spend $15+ to get a "consultation" report from the literary publisher Black Lawrence Press. I'm not endorsing this, but it's an avenue that might be of use to some. If anyone has experience with that press and needs to share it, I'll add the info here. What that report details is explained below by the publisher.
How to Participate
Step 1: Go to the Black Lawrence Press website and order any three novels priced between $5 - $12.
Step 2: Submit an excerpt of your novel or novella. Excerpts may be up to 25 double-spaced pages in length. Please feel free to include specific questions and requests for advice in the cover letter field. When you send your excerpt, our submissions manager will prompt you to include the PayPal Transaction ID number. You will receive this number after placing your order for three novels
Step 3: Black Lawrence Press editors will read your MS and send a consultation report. These reports will address questions or concerns that you send in with your excerpt, discuss issues that need to be resolved, highlight the elements that work well, and offer advice for development.
Offer ends Nov. 30 and consultations completed by Dec. 31.
Es todo, hooy
RudyG, aka Rudy Ch. Garcia author of The Closet of Discarded Dreams and patron of the loco book trailer.