Thursday, October 05, 2006

Even Unpublished Writers Write. Period.

I don't know what got Olivas cranky enough to pump out his piece on "Writers Write. Period" (, but it drove me to offer something from the opposite end of the writing craft spectrum. Whereas Dan has articles and real books to his credit, I instead have enough rejection letters to proverbially paper my den.

In another literal sense, too, I'm at the opposite end of the pole from Olivas. I stopped writing 35 years ago and went into idle mode for at least 20. No excuses, except I must not have thought I was a writer during those decades.

My first "published" book came out in the early 70s. Actually, it was only half mine, since the other half were letters written by my English teacher, to me. I never thought the half I sent to her was anything more than correspondence, as it was called then, but she had it typeset, copied and printed. "The Words Between Us" still sits in my den.

But there was more in that time before the sabbatical. In the early 70s, for a year and a half, I wrote a regular Sunday editorial for the Denver Post and became a minor celebrity, Chicano editorials being a rare find in those times. "Oh, you're the one that writes those articles." sounded just as good as a letter I got from a southern Colo. teacher who used my articles in her class. I quit only because I felt the Post editors were over-censoring my material. To boot, although my queries about syndicating the column amounted to cuacha, the possibility existed, one that I gave up on. Instead, por pendejo, I went on "sabbatical."

When I returned to writing regularly, it was difficult, but I eventually found new muses. Like Dan, I've written 3 novels and maybe a hundred stories, but only 2 shorts have seen the light of publishing.

Like Dan, when I get writer's fever from a new story idea, novel or short, I write, for weeks, months, even years. I've done 55k words in 5 mos., 60k in 45 days; it varies. That's how I know I'm a writer, now.

And also like Dan, I get bored, though not cranky, of hearing anyone talk about how they have no time to write. I teach elementary school (a 70-hr. job, the way most teachers do it), take a college course, have a house I may never finish remodeling, a wife, family, a dog and otherwise, some sort of life.

But when I get that fever, I can rise early, like 4 or 5am, write until it's time to get ready for work, and get chingos accomplished. For me, those are great hours in the den, with little interruption, even from the dog.

I've done that for about the last 12 years with little incentive, since agents publishers aren't budging each other for a chance at my door. As Olivas pointed out, you learn to juggle with what you've got so you don't explode.

Writing is not the "life" for everyone, especially if you're not like Dan, getting published what seems like almost every other month. It only becomes the life for you when you take it up as addictively as some of us.

If I'd had Olivas's article to read right before I took my sabbatical, I might have never taken leave of my senses and already surmounted those humps of first-published works. I assume more of my fiction will make it further than just the eyes of La Bloga readers, one day.

But I don't have to guess about another thing. No matter how little or rare publishing success I have, I won't ever again stop writing for long, nor complain how little time I have to write. When I get to be a 100, I want to look back and see that I only took one sabbatical from writing, just because I was too naive to know any better.

[Possible subtext for my tombstone or that one remaining spot on the den wall:
"After being turned down by numerous publishers, he had decided to write for posterity." - George Ade]

© Rudy Ch. Garcia 2006

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well Victor Villasenor, who I consider to be a damned fine writer was rejected tons of times for "Rain of Gold". I found that to be absolutely unbelievable but it happens all the time to excellent writers. Keep on writing compadrito.