Friday, December 30, 2011

On Flying Direct And Solo

This isn't a review of a book, although, the title I will keep in mind for future manuscripts.  I have
officially given up the quest for a literary agent.  Fifty percent of them never replied to my cover letter and then I discovered something really amazing!  You do NOT have to obtain a literary agent in order to get published!  FOLKS!  THERE IS A LITERARY GOD!  After reviewing various publishing house submission guidelines, I found that yes, you can submit directly to various publishing houses.  Since my memoir revolves around my dad's second bout with lymphoma, I have noticed that literary agents tend to see the word "cancer" and literally run screaming from the room as if there hair is on fire.  Maybe they forgot about the success of Tuesdays With Morrie or The Last Lecture, but I did not.  I have always told my students that you can do anything you set your mind to and then I decided to write a memoir and attempt to get it published.  And I started doubting myself.  For Crying Out Loud I'm An English Teacher!  Who better to work with on writing and revisions?! 

Now I am sending partials of the manuscript direct to publishers.  Oh yes, I did my homework from A to Z, and I basically did the job of a literary agent in doing so as well.  Yes, there is approval of contracts, but I decided to hire my own intellectual property attorney and entirely cut out the middle-man.  You guessed it!  That's why I like piloting my own plane, being captain of my own ship, or determining my own destiny.  I have always been of the mantra, if you want something done right and well, by God, do it yourself and pray.  Additionally, I also had an editor of a  publishing house contact me about submitting the manuscript directly to him.  I could not figure out how he discovered my cover letter until he informed me an agent that works in the same building thought my manuscript had merit and brought it to his attention.  BLESS ME!  AND BLESS WHOEVER THAT MIRACULOUS LITERARY AGENT IS THAT DID NOT RUN SCREAMING FROM THE ROOM UPON SEEING THE WORD "CANCER" AND "MEMOIR".  A THOUSAND BOWS TO YOU SIR OR MA'AM!!

Monday, December 19, 2011

What You Crave Is Who You Are

Since Thanksgiving I have been reading the memoir entitled The Man Who Couldn't Eat by Jon Reiner.  In this intriguing memoir, he writes about his experiences with food.  How food links to our identity, culture, memories, and heritage.  And he also discusses how someone who considers himself a foodie also struggles with the inflammatory disorder known as Crohn's disease.   Crohn's disease appears to be inflammation of major proportions in the colon leading to extreme pain, exclusive diets, and oftentimes, long hospitalizations. 

The first thing the author remembers eating that caused him massive problems intestinally was dried apricots.  And it becomes a juggling act to maintain balance so the intestinal system does not get overly aggravated because when that happens, as it does to Mr. Reiner, you can lay for hours out on the floor in pain and
semi-conscious until someone, somehow finds you and gets help.  Mr. Reiner has been through a multitude
of surgeries for this condition; at times he has been hospitalized for months as doctors try to navigate how
to stem the inflammatory processes that give rise to Crohn's disease.  This can mean cleaning out your system which means nothing by mouth, and by the way, that includes water.  It can often come to the point of being fed through a tube with a substance that is a far cry from what we all know and love as "real food". 

Obviously, when you are the chief cook and food purchaser in the family, this can be a problem.  It can also be a problem if you have to stick with a bland, macrobiotic diet while watching your kids and significant other partake of ymmy stuff like lasagna and pastrami sandwiches.  And the people who live with you are affected as well.  They want to know when you will be able to eat normally again.  They want to know when you will be physically well enough to run the household again.  You become aware of all that they are eating and they become aware of all that you are not eating and doing.  It takes patience.  It takes time.  It takes understanding.  People and their families do not just adjust to life with this type of disease overnight.  In the end what one realizes if you happen to have an autoimmune disorder is that while there is not a "cure", what you will have is times of "stability or dormancy" when the disease is not keeping you from your life and the enjoyment of it.  This is not a condition to be cured, but rather managed.