Elster's World

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

A Well Timed Rant

By trade, I am an attorney (insert your own lawyer joke here). As it happens, I hate being a lawyer. Not because all lawyers are scumbags (a very gross over-generalization), but rather because I hate the nature of the work, the hours, my bosses and many of the clients.

For the last six plus years I have toiled at this career, always assuming that something better was right around the corner and I would simply ram right into it like a deer in the middle of a country road.

So I waited. Patiently. Five years went by. And like an anvil, it hit me. There wasn't going to be a magic moment where my phone would ring and a dream job would be offered. Talk about going into a funk. Those were some dark times for Elster, let me tell you.

Talk to the average person who hates their job and ask them what they would do if they could do anything. Once you get past the professional baseball player, actor, model, general manager of the Yankees mode, they usually have no idea. "Um, I don't really know." Gee, no wonder so many people stick with their unhappy careers for so long.

Well, that was me. Except one day, I realized I did know what I wanted to do it I could do anything. I wanted to write books. I wanted to be an author. Well, that's kinda easier said than done, you know? But there's ony one way to set forth on the path to realizing your dreams; you have to set forth. And so I did. I took an old story that I had begun earlier and started running with it. Everyday on the train to and from work, writing on legal pads and then coming home and night and putting on the computer. Time passed. A year passed. And then...It was done. I had completed a draft of my dream. Almost 450 pages of dream to be precise (double spaced, fear not). Over 121,000 words. A true novel.

I re-read it, had my wife read it and finally a friend from work. I polished and cleaned it up like a '67 Corvette restoration project. Finally, it was done.

So then question became, now what? I had to get it published. No problem, I thought. It's good. Why be modest? It's damn good. Hell, I even have a friend who works for a publisher. So I sent it to her. That was four months ago. She speaks to me now and again but never even mentions the thing, except to say that she's really busy and will get to it when she gets to it. I'm afraid to push too hard because (a) she's my friend and I don't want it to be uncomfortable and (b) because she is my sole contact in the frosty world of publishing.

So now I have been trying to find an agent. I have submitted a query letter to eight agents. I've been rejected by seven so far. I have been told that it's common to get rejected as many as 30 or 40 times before anyone even wants to read your manuscript. So I plug on. I have no other choice.

Well, that's not the rant. This is: I always assumed the hardest part for me would be to figure out what to do with my life. But I did. Then I assumed that the hardest part would be to write the book. But I did (and it was easier than I thought it would be). But the truth is, that was all cake compared to getting anyone to even read the freaking thing. It pisses me off to no end. The book is good. I know it is. Yet it sits in one publisher's slush pile and no one else even wants to see it.

I'm frustrated beyond belief. I come to a job every day that I cannot stand and I plug away, doing things that I hate doing. Why? Because I have a family to support. Yet every day, my dream seems like it's slipping farther and farther out of my reach.

Which begs the question: Is it better to never discover your passion, or to discover it but fail?


  • Definitely better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all - i.e. discovering one's passion is worth quite a lot.

    I am also writing a book (somewhere around 30,000 words right now) and am beginning to despair of ever getting it published, yet on I plug because I love it. Writing makes me feel as though I've done something useful and worthwhile.

    Now, fortunately, my career (teaching) also makes me feel this way, so I'm doubly blessed.

    Keep at it - I think finding an agent is the best idea.

    P.S. Re: our conversation on my blog, feel free to email me using the link there if you have any ideas.

    By Blogger AnySara, at 6:16 PM  

  • You're probbaly right. I'm just getting frustrated. I thought people wold just kinda realize it was a publishable work.

    As for your own labor of love - don't worry abt publishing it until you finish it. One step at a time.

    By Blogger Elster, at 8:38 PM  

  • Nice '67 Vette throw in!

    Dude, you are providing for a family and pursuing your dream, you're the man. The fact that you hate it but still plug awaya it shows how mch strength in character you have. Sounds like you're pretty on it with the book and you'rem aking it happen.

    You are choosing to chance the rapids, daring to dance the tides and not just setting up on the shoreline.

    By Blogger The Real Neo, at 2:06 AM  

  • i once heard a story that ammounted to this:

    someone had a dream, which one day they where told wasnt possible because rhey where sick, her father told her don't even try, her mother told her to try and in response to her fathers refusal to pay for the schooling required gave her her entire bank account.
    when later asked about this she said "are dreams are what make us what we are, if you are denied the chance to even follow you're dream then you'll be bitter for ever wondering whether or not you could have mannaged, but if you try and fail, yes you'll hurt, but in time you'll make a new dream for you're self."

    By Blogger Halfnutcase, at 11:44 AM  

  • just remember, samuel beckett said,
    "no matter. try again. fail again. fail better."
    definitely words to live by. and remember, you wrote the book. that's half of the equation. i know, i'm in the same boat. it's not easy, but if it was, would it mean as much to you?
    from one unpublished author to another, hang in there!

    By Blogger bec, at 1:17 AM  

  • As long as you are writing and enjoy it, how can it be considered a failure? The publishing world is rife with stories of bestsellers rejected by 30 or 40 houses before being accepted. It has almost become essential to have an agent these days. You can find one that suits your style in Writer's Market. Hatzlacha!

    As a writer and artist thinking of becoming an accountant to pay the bills, I can definitely empathize...

    By Blogger MC Aryeh, at 11:36 AM  

  • Elster,

    If you can find a job that pays enough for you to live on, get out of the office. Most lawyers are going NOWHERE, in a faustian pact with the g-d of mammon. It's bad for the neshoma. Keep plugging away with the book and have faith.


    By Blogger The Rabbi's Kid, at 7:50 AM  

  • Agree on all points. I'm working on it!!!

    By Blogger Elster, at 2:18 PM  

  • Maybe if you publisize your blug they'll toss you a book deal. I heard its been done! ;-)
    Bi'ezrat Hashem, youll get your book published.

    By Blogger Manny, at 10:22 PM  

  • I came across this website recently - it's an online 'vanity' publisher. I haven't tried it, don't know anyone who has and can't vouch for it at all - but you're a lawyer, so if there are any pitfalls I guess you'll notice them yourself. Good luck.

    Oh, the link is http://www.lulu.com/uk

    By the way - I'm also mid-way through writing a novel(big respect for finising yours) and I work in publishing. Two insider tips:
    1. Don't even think of sending an unsolicited manuscript to a publisher. The pages from the unread slush piles could wallpaper the wall of china. Twice over.
    2. You HAVE to get a literary agent. No other choice. Then, you can get moving...

    good luck

    By Blogger R.x, at 12:33 PM  

  • RX - Thanks. While very old news to me (I have done a good amount of research in this area) I appreciate the advice. Good luck with yours.

    By Blogger Elster, at 1:20 PM  

  • I am in the same boat, just five years earlier. I am a lawyer also, and I absolutely hate it. I want to be an author as well, and I've started about three or four books with different ideas. Just trying to figure out which one to stick with for now. I'm also thinking of starting a business. Something.

    Anyway, have you considered self-publishing? There are sites out there that will print your book and sell it on amazon, barnesandnoble, etc.

    Ultimately, I don't know what route I'm going to take, but I know it won't be the law. This has been a huge mistake that results in golden handcuffs.

    By Blogger JD Wanting Out, at 1:54 PM  

  • Yeah, big mistake, me too! Legal writing was a faux lure. All along it was writing, legal or not. Now I am not sure I can do otherwise.

    By Anonymous dejavulaw, at 2:30 AM  

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