Down to the Last Petal


Down to the Last Petal

I don’t give up easily, or maybe I just don’t let go easily. I often buy fresh flowers, the local grocery store variety ($4.99 a bunch). I pick up a few extra packets of  bloom extender, even though the flowers come with one wrapped into the cellophane. Most of the flowers are long-stemmed, so I start with a tall vase, then I begin a gradual process of clipping the stems every few days, putting the remaining flowers into a slightly shorter vase, and doing it all again until I am down to a few straggly blooms in a very short container. A couple of times I’ve reduced this process to one languishing blossom in a tiny bud vase.

Although I could buy a bouquet of fresh flowers weekly, I find I can’t give up on those slightly frayed petals that still offers potential. I’m the customer at the local garden center who digs through the clearance table and buys a desperate looking geranium for $1.00. I bring it home, repot it, and nourish it until it flourishes again. A few years later, when it is nothing but leggy stems, I regretfully consign it to the trash.

I don’t get rid of things that have gone hopelessly out of style or have lost their original purpose, although often I should. I also don’t give up on people in my life, even though they sometimes vex me to distraction.

So far, I haven’t given up on publishing, even though it is often a formidable challenge. You know what I mean if, inspired, you have written something you believe is good enough to be read by others. At which point, you are faced with three choices, although, I suppose, there are other, imaginative, options. Basically, these are the typical avenues to publishing.

You can do the “dance of the agents.” If you know an agent, or have any connection to one, then you might luck out. On the other hand, if you are going through lists trying to find a fit (and visiting forums that supposedly give you the lowdown on various agents), then you have a major task ahead. Once you finally narrow down your choices, put together your query letter, and hit send or slap a stamp on an envelope, the wait begins. Maybe they’ll respond; maybe not. Maybe it will be in a few days, a few weeks, a few months, or a year or two. Or not at all. Should they want to read your work, the same timeline often applies.

You can try to contact a publisher directly, although that has become extremely difficult because most of them use an agent as a gatekeeper. Some of the Indie publishers allow un-agented queries, but many of them are small operations and overtaxed by their own generosity.

All of this makes self-publishing attractive, since you’d like to see your work out there before it is hopelessly dated, or you have visibly aged waiting to hold that book in your hand. Self-publishing holds it’s own terrors along with the advantage of instant gratification. Ask anyone who has gone that route. Print on Demand is quick and easy. Marketing is several full-time jobs, during which you aren’t writing at all, or very little.

Still . . . there is that last petal (or poem, or short story, or novel, or nonfiction work) that you just can’t abandon. Neither can I, and I’m looking forward to this summer when I can rescue a few  headed-for-the-trash petunias. I’m also polishing a manuscript; I’m not allowing it to die an early death either.