Thursday, March 10, 2016

Why do I do this to myself?

So I go off all enthusiastic minnie, set myself tasks, light bulbs come on ... writing juices start whirring, everything's looking really gude.  Then what?  I'm fucked before I start, that's what. 

Today I spent the whole morning, going through my lists of publishers who I've contacted since October last year.  I compiled a massively comprehensive list on Excel, with comments and notes. of the over 125 publishers I've sent enquiry emails for book proposals to.  So I'm not playing at it.  The majority haven't even had the decency to respond.  The ones that did respond, were very sweet, polite, nice, kind, (aargh blech) and gave me some words of encouragement or pointed me in the direction of publishers who:

 'might be interested in the concept.  This is a very important topic and thanks for your courage in pitching the idea to us.  But for the moment, it's not for us.  Good luck in your endeavours. Have you tried looking through the Writers And Artists Yearbook for potential publishers who might suit?'

Oh God, people are so condescending.   I got the WAAY2016 edition for Christmas, that's where I got your fricking details from moron.  

So I took a long hard look at this frigging manuscript again and the light bulb exploded on top of my head and the broken glass fell into my eye.  There is no way I'm going to get any publisher to print this manuscript as it is, in memoir / semi-autobiographical / essay format. It's just too risky.  I'm no Sylvia Plath and anyway I'm not writing about mental illness from MY perspective as a sufferer (although some would vouch that I do need to see a psychiatrist).  The viewpoint in my story is that of a carer of someone who has a severe mental illness.

I have to divulge a whole ton of personal information/feelings/observations in order to tell the story with any degree of authenticity.  This stuff is potentially defamatory or could be construed as an invasion of privacy.

The old chestnut that you should change names, places, dates, occupations, countries etc. etc. of your 'characters' is a crock of shit.  As sooon as it gets out that I wrote the book (i.e. that I get some degree of public acknowledgement or acclaim for it), it will be blindingly obvious to anyone with even a slight knowledge of my family, who I am writing about.   Leaving out some members of the family in order to protect their identity in the story is also counter-productive because I need them there to illustrate certain points.  My reactions towards things wouldn't have been possible without all those people. 

So how did someone like Doris Lessing get around this?  How do you stand up to being sued by a family member or other person, after you've published an honest (fictionalised or otherwise) account of how YOUR life has been affected by the onset of mental illness in someone close to you? 

I have her consent to write the story, that's a start I suppose.  And all the other members of my family have said they're okay with it (although none of them have seen the manuscript) but they're all saying this before the thing is published - everything changes when it's standing there in the bald light of day and you can pick it up and your name shouts out from the page in big black shiny letters. 

This is why pI believe ublishers don't want to touch it with a barge pole. 

But shortly after first publishing this post, I found  this 

And there's a new glimmer of hope ... 


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