Communion Of Dreams

Playing the Hollywood Shuffle.
October 22, 2007, 10:07 am
Filed under: Art, Feedback, General Musings, movies, Promotion, Science Fiction, Writing stuff

I heard back from the person mentioned in this post. What they said:

I’m sorry to report that the person I was hoping would pass along the novel to “hollywood” is too much of an editor and less of a reader. They have been held back by the “roughness” as Kilgore Trout put it. Although they are still hoping/planning to try and read through it I told them that if their heart wasn’t really in it enough to actually finish reading the novel not to pass it along. Networking is only helpful when done with integrity – at least to my mind. I have a couple more “connected” people to try though and will look into them. If you would like I can pass along the editorial comments.

My response:

Oh, that’s fine – as you wish. I concur that networking should only be handled with integrity – the quickest way to ‘burn your cred’ (ruin your credibility) for someone like that is to push something you don’t honestly believe in. I’m certainly willing to hear criticism – my skin is plenty thick, and I will use it as I see fit – but I’m not planning on a major rewrite of the thing anytime soon. If there are small glitches (and certainly if there are typos, et cetera), I’m perfectly happy to fix those.

I honestly think that most of the problem that some people have with the book is that they don’t give it a chance – what may seem at first exposure to be a ‘problem’ is usually an intentional technique on my part to engage the reader to be thinking or reacting to something in a specific way, setting up for either an evolution in thought later or just some kind of outright surprise. Now, since this is “just” science fiction, and I am “just” a first-time novelist, some people do not expect any kind of literary sophistication in the book. So they get partway in, see some things which confuse their expectations, and give up. Whereas if they read it all the way through (perhaps more than once), some of the more subtle things going on may become evident.

*sigh* I’m not claiming to be some kind of literary genius. Everything I did with the novel is fairly standard stuff, applied from my education and decades of reading. It’s just that too often people are not expecting anything more than a surface layer from popular fiction. And when you don’t meet their expectations, if they don’t have some faith in you as an ‘established’ or ‘recognized’ author, they give up. If I’ve failed in anything, it is not in catering to these expectations on the part of some readers to help them get past their initial confusion. I just dislike pandering to people. Certainly, that segment of my audience who have completed the book and found themselves pleased with the whole thing is more rewarding to me than those who do not make it more than a couple of chapters in.

Oh, and thanks for providing me material for the blog. 😉

Yeah, I know – makes me sound like I have a pretty inflated opinion of myself and my book. There is an element of that, I will admit. But mostly, it is just a manifestation of my self confidence – a necessary component in dealing with life, and in particular in dealing with being an artist/author. A personal essay I wrote several years ago that touches on this:


One birthday, when I was nine or ten, I woke with anticipation of the presents I would receive. Still in my pajamas I rushed into the kitchen where my parents were having coffee, expecting to get the loot which was rightfully mine. My father happily handed over a small, wrapped box. I opened it eagerly, to find a little American flag on a wooden stick. My father said that since my birthday was July 4th, he thought I would appreciate the gift. Horrorstruck first at not getting anything better, then at my own greed, I guiltily told my parents that I thought it was a fine gift. After a moment, of course, my folks brought out my real presents. I can no longer tell you what those presents were, but the lesson in expectations my dad taught me that day always remained with me. My dad had been a Marine, fought in Korea, and was a deeply patriotic cop who was killed while on duty a couple of years after that birthday. I’ve never looked at the American flag without remembering what a fine gift it really is, and have never forgotten not to take some things for granted.

When I was in High School some years later, I learned another lesson in expectations. I had always been a good student (straight A’s, involved in Student Government, various clubs, et cetera), but I was never announced as a member of the National Honor Society. With that earlier lesson about expectations firmly in mind, I watched as my friends were inducted during my Sophomore and Junior years, figuring that there was a reason that I had been passed over, that there was some flaw in my academic record that disqualified me. But I couldn’t figure out what it might be. When, during my Senior year, the NHS list came out and it didn’t have my name on it again, I decided to ask someone about it.

I went to my advisor and asked if he could explain it to me. He had only been my advisor my Senior year, but knew me fairly well, knew my GPA and my involvement level. He looked at me with some surprise and said he thought I was already a member. When I said no, he said he’d look into it. A couple of hours later I was summoned to the Principal’s office. It turned out that my file had been mis-filed years earlier. A purely clerical error. I should have been a member of the Society all along. Everyone was most apologetic, and they retroactively inducted me into the NHS.

My High School days are far behind me, and it has long since ceased to matter to me whether I received any particular recognition or award back then. As I’ve matured, gained life experience, I’ve learned many other lessons about tempering expectations, living with occasional disappointment, accepting that things don’t always work out the way you plan no matter how hard you work or how deserving you are. But those two early lessons in expectations still are the boundaries that I live by: don’t take things for granted, but don’t be afraid to ask why things aren’t the way they’re supposed to be. This gives me an appreciation for life, and the strength to really live it, which I think would make both my parents proud.

So yeah, I have some ego. But it comes from realizing that you get nowhere from being afraid to create and assert yourself.

Jim Downey

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[…] Mandy wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptI’m sorry to report that the person I was hoping would pass along the novel to “hollywood” is too much of an editor and less of a reader. They have been held back by the “roughness” as Kilgore Trout put it. … […]

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[…] All of MP3 wrote an interesting post today on Playing the Hollywood Shuffle.Here’s a quick excerptI honestly think that most of the problem that some people have with the book is that they don’t give it a chance – what may seem at first… […]

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