Thomm Quackenbush, author

" Possible Futures | 2009 | A Fine Day "

01.18.09 12:18 p.m.

Lady Luck generally woos those who earnestly, enthusiastically, unremittingly woo her.  

-B.C. Forbes

 


Opportunity Knox

I know two guys who won the Reno 911 contest a few years ago. As a part of this, they were flown out to Reno to hang out with this cast (there might have also been a monetary aspect). While there, they were so entertaining as to make an impression on the executives of Comedy Central. The execs asked them to make a video and submit it, with heavy suggestions that this could result in a show. And you know what they did?

Nothing.

Not a damned thing. Melissa offered them the use of her camera and said she would edit the product. They declined utterly. Instead, they wanted to focus on their music with a local scream-core band. You wouldn't have heard of them. I know them and I can't recall what they are current named.

Apparently, they couldn't accept that this was a golden opportunity, one of those rare times you are handed something on a platter by fate. They couldn't process that a million times their current audience would be aware of them, that they would have a record contract tomorrow if they had a show on Comedy Central. They would never again have to work at a grocery store for minimum wage or live with their grandmothers.

Perhaps, it has been suggested, it is just a fear of success, that it is so much easier not to put forth effort than to try your hardest and fail anyway. If you might just screw it up, what's the point in trying? But I find this scenario far too pat, even as I've dealt with more students than I can recall suffering from this malady of the will.

The current Cave Drawing Ink project is not turning out as we had planned, though I am not surprised. In the last book, I wrote fairly blind and had my characters radically changed once I submitted my script. Then, even after I made the very necessary revisions to accommodate the ending of the book, some of my story was changed to be less funny (I was partly the comic relief). In this coming book, a character I created was thrust into a sexual relationship that I did not feel fit her and then went from a savant-like electronics geek to Angelina Jolie in "Hackers". When the publisher said he wanted her killed off before our chapters, I compromised with the other teams to secure that characters survival for a little while longer (at the expense of the aforementioned sexual relationship), even though that was not my initial vision.

I was put in charge of Melanie and Hannah, who I had to prod in the final weeks to turn their drafts into me because they were disappointed at how the project drifted from our vision and it infected their inspiration (though what they turned in was better than my chapter, so I am not really complaining). When it was announced that they wanted our scripts, I turned in my rough draft the very next day, because I understood that canon means whatever is read first. I understand that it is not exactly equivalent to being offered a show by TV executives, but it is another writing credit, something I've craved for much of my life. I mention my affiliation with Cave Drawing Ink when submitting query letters to publishers or offering stories to magazines. I wanted our third of the book to shine as the most coherent and unified section because we would have had time to tie together all our continuity, something that is impossible if I don't have the rest of the story to work with. I tried bribing them with the truth that this was just a beginning and that, if we did especially well on this book, we would have a better chance to have Cave Drawing Ink publish something that was distinctly ours. Even if Hannah and Melanie never wrote for Cave Drawing Ink again - and they are keen to do it again, now that they know what to expect - I would still offer my services on the next book and the book after that because this is one of the ways I am going to convince fate to bless me with success, short of winning a contest because I am a lucky bastard.

I've been sorting through rejection letters for We Shadows (including one from a company that specializes in urban fantasy featuring female protagonists that does not see how my book is right for their company, despite the fact that We Shadows is exactly that). I'm not giving up, not even thinking about it. I will write for whoever will publish me on paper, acknowledge me as the author, and pay me something. I have yet to have an opportunity just handed to me, so I am going to fight tooth and nail for anything I can get, slowly building up my resume and portfolio. Things cannot always be to my tastes and I will have to compromise, but I'm going to succeed. I've been disappointed in the past - by an anthology of poetry that was nothing more than a scam my poetry group fell into when I was a teenager, by my one-act being mutilated and miscast - but I will persist. I never want to have any cause to wonder what would have happened if I had actually committed to my success.

Soon in Xenology: Seeing Emily. Reunion.

last watched: United States of Tara
reading: Confirmation
listening: Regina Spektor

" Possible Futures | 2009 | A Fine Day "

Thomm Quackenbush is an author and teacher in the Hudson Valley. Double Dragon publishes four novels in his Night's Dream series (We Shadows, Danse Macabre, and Artificial Gods, and Flies to Wanton Boys). He has sold jewelry in Victorian England, confused children as a mad scientist, filed away more books than anyone has ever read, and tried to inspire the learning disabled and gifted. He is capable of crossing one eye, raising one eyebrow, and once accidentally groped a ghost. When not writing, he can be found biking, hiking the Adirondacks, grazing on snacks at art openings, and keeping a straight face when listening to people tell him they are in touch with 164 species of interstellar beings. He likes when you comment.



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