Afternoon Buzz: What the Hell Man!

I had lunch with a friend yesterday, a flight attendant and fellow writer, at Union Ale on Lower State Street (Santa Barbara).

She had some great stories to tell – people sure can behave like assholes on a flight – but equally as interesting was her experience at a recent writer’s conference – a workshop for writers looking to get published.

It was a chance to meet with agents, to pitch ideas, to get feedback.

Ah, feedback – it’s a tricky thing, a slippery slope.

In theory, sure – we can all use an extra pair of eyes – yet in reality we (writers) need to watch out for the Trojan horse that is feedback.

For example: My friend has a brilliant idea to write a historical fiction book that portrays a Nazi soldier who falls in love with a Jewish girl during the rise of Hitler’s reign. It would be based on truth – a story passed down from her grandparents.

A beautiful concept, right?

But before she could even finish her pitch the man cut her off and told her that it would never work, that most of the agents in New York City are Jewish and would never be willing to publish a book that portrayed a member of the Nazi party in a sensitive light.

Thank God I was drinking a 10% pumpkin ale – I sat relaxed in my chair, listening to the horror story, my mind flashing back to when I tried to shop around My Side of the Story – when people told me to do it this way or that way, to make it longer and shorter and change the name of the main character.

It was one of the worst processes of my life – it made me look at my book in a different light, constantly searching how to change it instead of keeping true to why I wrote the damn thing in the first place.

I didn’t write it to sell it, I wrote it because I thought it was a beautiful story – one that spoke very truly about things in life. There was nothing to prove, just a story to tell, a hobby that happens to produce a tangible product.

My friend is expressing these same thoughts, admitting that she’s finding it extremely difficult to get the story out of her head – she’s finding it hard to write the story they want her to write.

Union Ale location in Santa Barbara.

I may never get published or appear on any top ten lists, but I will continue to pen the stories and scenes that come into my head. I’d rather have the words never leave my notebook than have them twisted and turned into a story that I know nothing about.

Despite the frustration that ultimately arises when two writers talk about the head-on collision of creativity and business, I drank the pumpkin beer and ate pepperoni pizza rather happily. I was impressed by Pumking beer in Syracuse – it was instantly one of my favorites – and Union Ale Pumpkin was right there with it (as I said it’s 10% alcohol, so the flavors are all very deep and detectable).

Only a few more weeks to enjoy the seasonal beer – head on over to Union Ale and give it a shot (let me know what you think).

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