Thursday, August 02, 2007

Are You Not Entertained? Are...You...Not...ENTERTAINED???

















...that's the rhetorical question I ask people when I'm queried about why do I still do the entertainment stuff-- working the Hollywood beat, jostling for position during press junkets sometimes resembles a bunch of gladiators fighting in the dust on the dirt floor of some Roman coliseum which brings me to the right here and now...I was going to entitle this "A Letter to Octavia, Maya and Martha" but for some reason thought otherwise...strangely enough, I'm typing this entry up in a cafe in Pasadena, the writer's home town (she grew up a stone's throw from where I sit)...I'm waiting to meet with an editor in an effort to scare up some work to keep the rain off my head while I get my producing grind on...I seem to have hit a rough patch getting to where I'd planned to after being in this town for ten years...I wanted to at least be wrapping up my second and focusing on a third tome by now but, as fateful cock-ups would have it, I'm still working on my first and, to quote David Lee Roth in "Hot for Teacher" -- I don't feel 'tardy'...but some would say I am...



















...I once went to a reading that featured Octavia's latest offering at the time, a compilation of her work called Lilith's Brood when the famed sci-fi writer was in Atlanta years ago...I was still living there, at the time and went on a whim with a friend of mine named Bill Campbell (also a writer, now living in DC) so it was years before she passed. The event was held in a little book store in Little 5 Points, across the street from the Point, a couple of doors down from the Zesto's on the corner of Euclid and Moreland...I forget what it was called and I doubt that its still there as the neighborhood had been roundly gentrified, the last time I was in town...all the punks and artists that used to people the area back in my day had been run out on rails...a lot has changed for me since then but some things have not...at least I hope not...





















...I've met my share of lit agents since I've moved out here to Los Angeles and one of my largest hurdles, after securing an actual meeting, is avoiding the inevitable re-direct towards eschewing the theme in my head (I want to piece together an anthology of ideas where people in my age bracket, with very little time to do all the legwork, can refer to and quickly find sources that intrigues them when they actually do have a little down time to look around-- kind of like what I'm doing on this blog) ...suffice it to say that I'm not into penning the next big Harlequin Romance serial or some fantabulous, magikal children's book that will get picked up by some studio-- I don't have it in me...


...I know I'd never be able to look at myself in the mirror if I weren't true to that...is that so wrong? To stick to my guns while it feels like every other hack; suburban housewife has a multi-book deal? I don't think so...but the road to that particular truth has had many twists and I've been tempted more than twice to just throw in the towel and write "that potboiler" to keep the electricity and phone on...but I soon regain my footing, on the shores of what girlfriends past have called my "fantasy Island of hard knocks"...my homebiscuit, Bill Campbell, who went to that Octavia reading with me is already on his second book and I applaud him for it too, he's a cool cat and his wife has a bun in the oven, so support him if his style is in your wheelhouse, he was one of the lot I used to kick it with in MJQ...me, I'm still waiting for that perfect storm of ideas to get the greenlight...or the other shoe to fall...indeed, it sometimes feels like I'm the starving cat who gets trapped in a pantry stocked, top-to-bottom with cans and cans of cat food....but the mouse, standing at his hole on the other side of the room has the can opener...















...I don't know why but as I've gotten older I've always seemed to relate more with great female writers like the two above..another one of my favorites is Martha Gellhorn, she's known by most as being the journalist who married Ernest Hemingway but she's much more than that and should be looked up more often...In her day, Martha was a courageous woman of letters and traveled all over the world to cover wars, people and current events in a time when most sisters (black, brown, white, yellow or whatever hue's appropriate) couldn't do a thing for themselves...this is a chick who hid in the catacombs with the French Resistence and wrote about it with a vengeance...I'll repeat: she hid in the catacombs with Le Resistance, a real player, son!



















...sitting here thinking of Octavia et al, my erstwhile career plans and the refinements I've made to them over the years has made me think of something that Maya Angelou once said about making the commitment and putting it down on paper: "good reading is damn hard writing"...amen, sister....I just hope I've still got the minerals, the sang froid that those tough old broads above had when they were punchin' their shit up...struggling...and surviving to tell about it...

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