“You’re gonna have to kill me …”
Friday, April 5, 2019
Optimist gets world's worst rejection letter
In my evergreen attempts to gauge my occupational results (pathetic) versus my potential (monumental), I think I’ve settled on what kind of following I have. It is thus:
I have a cult following.
That sounds presumptuous until you consider the kind of cult writing like mine inspires.
My cult is polite, proper, has good posture and excels at things like living room “Jeopardy.”
This is opposed to the kind of cults that indulge in drugs, random sex and stand on street corners and harass strangers as to why they should sell their possessions and follow me in ways that have nothing to do with my lame Twitter account (seeking followers @8days2Amish!).
But I’m always tickled when someone tells me how much they enjoy my blog or my books — and some of them are sober folk, too!
One of my favorite’s is my buddy Greg who’s told me, “You’re the reason I’m glad I have insomnia.” It’s true. He says when he can’t sleep, he goes back and reads in reverse order nearly all my 2,000 blog posts from the past 10 years.
He says he laughs out loud, which inevitably awakens his wife, who I must assume either hates my guts or at least wishes my blogs were full of things like golf or pottery tips or other LOL-free topics.
But he’s not alone. I’m always hearing the kind of feedback that buoys me into believing one day all this deliberate typing will pay off.
I keep thinking I’m on the verge of some breakthrough where literary agents and publishers see me through new eyes. A prestigious agent who was once indifferent to my book proposals replied to my latest idea to say just that.
I now make him sick.
The book proposal is “The Art of Living Suddenly: How to Deal with a Parkinson’s Diagnosis (& other things that suck).” It’s about how anytime we hear of anyone dying suddenly we need to commit to living suddenly.
Here’s what he wrote:
“Thank you so much for writing. Your book hits me too close to the bone: both of my parents had Parkinsonism-induced Alzheimer’s disease, and I watched them die from it. I’ll likely get it, too. More specifically, Robin Williams was diagnosed with Lewy Body dementia, a particularly nasty variety of Alzheimer’s that I’ve also seen up close and personal. I’m afraid it’s a pass from me. I do not think you should pursue a project that has the potential to upset readers the way this upsets me.
I swear I went back and read it twice to be certain I didn’t miss the part where reading my proposal made his penis detach.
Really, I think a guy like Frank would benefit from reading a book about sudden living. He seems haunted by a future that may or may not ever come to pass. Who knows? They may find a cure for what killed his parents or he may enjoy a symptom-free life.
Or he may get hit by a bus today on his way to the Friday bowling meet.
I mean, you always have to look at the bright side.
I without fail do. I mean, I was floored by the scalding desolation of what I consider to be among the worst rejection letters ever sent — and, by God, I’m something of an expert.
But I got up and am back up and at ‘em today, forever convinced I’m right and anyone who rejects me is wrong, wrong, wrong.
In that way, I’ve always considered myself the Lucas Jackson of rejection-riddled writers. Luke is the Paul Newman character in the peerless “Cool Hand Luke.”
“Dragline” (George Kennedy) beats Luke so thoroughly he becomes exasperated at Luke’s stubborn insistence on rising to rejoin a battle he cannot possibly win.
“Stay down, man,” Dragline pleads. “You’re beat.”
“You’re gonna have to kill me …”
In the end — spoiler alert! — they do just that.
I’ve for years tried to divine some profound lesson from Luke’s struggles and all I can figure is it’s "don’t buck the system or the system will kill you."
So I’ve perhaps learned the lesson.
I’ve just never applied it.
And I never will.