This I Believe

Hugh - Cushing, Maine
Entered on February 2, 2007
Age Group: 65+
Themes: creativity



Why, after twenty years of trying, can’t I get any commercial house to publish my books? It’s a question that has dogged me ever since I submitted my first novel, set in WWII, to a major publisher who rejected it because at that time “nobody cares about WWII.” The publisher suggested that the novel might well be a masterpiece, but that didn’t matter.

Since that first novel I’ve written eight more books, including another novel, a collection of essays on business management, a novella collection, a travel memoir, and a short story collection. After reading the manuscript an agent for the second novel phoned, bursting with enthusiasm, but cautioning that it had a problem: it defied categorization. He was right: a half dozen publishers, unable to figure out where to place it among the standard classifications of novels, turned it down. Meanwhile, the memoir was passed over because it wasn’t sweet enough, or it was too tough, and the short stories were either too mainstream or not mainstream enough. As for the business essays, publisher after publisher agreed that they were excellent, but worthless, because nobody knows the author. Having warned, that in the field of business books this might happen, the agent who believed in the work, eventually bowed out.

I could blame our celebrity culture, or the shallowness of our society, or perhaps God. None of this flies with me. I do believe that life is like a sine wave, that we experience periods of hard times and periods of good times, often due to no fault of our own. As much as I believe that we have some control over our destiny, I also believe that fate frequently intervenes, taking away that control. I recall one of my agents who, enthusing over my book of business essays, planned to take it with him to England where he intended to find a publisher for it. As he boarded the plane he had a heart attack and expired. Talk about fate intervening.

So one adapts as the sine wave pursues its determined course. If I don’t adapt I might as well give up on writing, even life, because writing is such an integral part of my life. I now ask myself, is it necessary to be published? What is my motivation: am I to be satisfied with self-expression strictly for its own sake? To hell with recognition? Not this author, not most authors, not artists of any stripe. I believe we have the innate need to communicate what we have discovered, and who we are.

Since my motivation hasn’t abated I can’t quit, so I have to conclude that twenty years of trying isn’t enough. Although the amplitude of my failure is enormous, being a believer that change is inevitable, I’ll keep writing and trying to sell my past wares. Who knows, although I’m into my eighth decade, I may even live long enough to see it happen.