I rarely work with paper anymore, but time was, when I was writing and submitting through the mail, I lived with an array of festering paper cuts that, from time to time, would bleed onto the actual pages. Perhaps this is where the phrase "blood, sweat, and tears" comes from in reference to a writer's sacrifice for the written page.
What I do know is that I don't bleed anymore. I do occasionally sweat. Sometimes I also weep over the page--either out of sadness at how awful my writing is, or the surprise of finding that I have written something stirring. But I don't bleed.
This past week, though, has made me realize how deeply embedded I am in the publishing industry. It's weird, but as publishing has continued to morph out of the old ways into new arenas, markets and methodologies, I've navigated them all fairly well. Mostly, I think that is because I have maintained my relationships.
Although publishing has changed, I have found that one thing has remained consistent, and that is people. Or, more specifically, the relationship between writer and publisher/editor is still the backbone of the enterprise. Without trust, without conversation . . . even friendship . . . publishing cannot work.
In a few weeks I will be traveling to New York with my wife and a couple of good friends. While the trio will be out visiting Ellis Island, Central Park, museums, and perhaps taking in a Broadway show, I will be criss-crossing the publishing district near Greenwich Village and Chelsea taking small gifts to publishers and editors, a former literary agent, and two literary "giants" who have agreed to meet with me (why, we'll never know).
I expect nothing less than gratitude to come out of this trip and these connections. Although my wife thinks I'm crazy (she still doesn't understand why I keep writing through so much failure), she does have a tinge of respect for the people I'll be seeing and the possibilities that are born and bred of these friendships. Or, as she has told me, "While you're traipsing around all over New York worrying about your books, I'll be enjoying myself. Sorry."
More power to her. But she's wrong about enjoyment. I'll be in my element. I'll be walking the avenues carrying a bag full of gifts and trinkets of thanksgiving. As long as I don't get mugged, I plan to deliver them into their respective offices.
I may sweat in New York. I may cry. But I don't plan to bleed. I won't be carrying any paper.