What it means to be “picked up”

As a  retiree who moved to the island of Cozumel I had simple goals.  Start a new life, basically from scratch, and finish my novel, which was barely begun.  Okay, so maybe those goals weren’t so simple, but they were doable.  On a teacher’s pension I’ve furnished a home, mostly, bought the clothing necessary for the climate, almost, and adopted and now care for two dogs, completely.  One simply can’t scrimp on the animals, as we all know.

So, when I finished my novel I celebrated.  After about a week of that I started the task of shopping around for an editor and a publisher.  For those of you who are writers, you know what that experience is like.  For those who aren’t let me put it this way.  Writing the book was easier.  It became a little harder since I discovered the word count is way more than a short story, but just under what is required for a novel.  I’m only under by a couple of thousand words, but,  yes, that’s important.  As a result,  it’s now called a chapbook, or at least that’s what I’ve been told, repeatedly.  Still, there was a nibble.  An editor out of Los Angeles felt that my work was worth taking a second look.  A little while later she told me that my work has been “picked up.”

Now, I’ve heard that expression before, but it never applied to literary works, as far as I knew.  The other little bit of knowledge that was news to me was that when one is “picked up” that means that changes are expected.  Now it seemed as if my former idea of what that expression meant was now much closer to the reality.  I can be grateful that I was noticed so quickly, but I still have to make some changes to be seriously considered.  That is, of course, if one wants to be picked up in the first place.  But, before I digress let me share the suggestions I’ve been given so far.

They aren’t crazy about the title.  Apparently it is too short and gives the reader absolutely no idea of what to expect.  Now, please do not feel that I am comparing myself to the following literary folk, I just want to use a few titles for examples.  Oh, and for those of you who’ve not read these works, let me give you a spoiler alert.   Okay, here goes…..

How many of you knew that a book titled “Anna Karenina” would lead to such a sweet woman’s suicide?  Or that “Romeo and Juliet” would lead to a double suicide, and of teens, no less?  Did the “Thin Man” cause you to think of Nick and Nora and their dog Asta solving crimes?  Now, again I want to reiterate that I am not comparing my work to Tolstoy,  Shakespeare, or Hammett, but if ambiguity was good enough for the pros, why not the rest of us?  Or, is that the problem?  Maybe one has to be multiply published, and sufficiently recognized,  before being obscure?

They are also not fond of the length of the chapters.  Again, if it was good enough for Andrew Vachss, whose chapters sometimes only contain a couple of paragraphs, why not me?  And, since my work is nonfiction, the only way that I can think of lengthening the chapters is to become ridiculously wordy, or alter the facts and I’m not willing to do either.

Finally, they would like to see more.  More of what? I asked.  “More details” they answered.  Okay, I can give them that and will do so, soon.  But, and here is the ongoing debate for all writers, artists, photographers etc., do we do what is good for us, or do we do what is wanted by the public?  These are often at opposite ends of the spectrum, but the reasoning is understandable.   Sometimes it’s all about the art, but, sometimes, it’s all about the money.

Now, as I’ve mentioned, I’ve just about finished purchasing all the things one needs to survive, and live fairly well, on a tight budget.  Did I run out of money a couple of times before the next pension check arrived?  Yes, but that was to be expected.  I was blindsided by my medical needs,  but, I know to budget for them now and will be purchasing the insurance necessary at the end of this very month.   I also wasn’t quite prepared for my last electric bill, but I’m ready for the next one.  These are the little things we learn when we move here.  It may be gorgeous, lush, and filled with friendly folk, including tourists, but life goes on no matter where we live.   It just took me a while to realize that I’m not on vacation, I live here, and I needed to adjust my spending accordingly.

Still, it would be nice to be published.  And the money would be great too.  But, at what price?  Do I stick to my guns, and eat a lot of beans and rice?   Okay, that might have been a bit extreme, but you can see where I’m going with this, yes?    A lot of questions for so early in the morning, I agree.  So, I think I will just mull it all over for a while longer since I’m now budgeted for life as it really is, not as I thought it was……….  Salud!

2 thoughts on “What it means to be “picked up”

  1. That is a tough call. My niece is a free lance writer for all kinds of magazines, she faces these choices over and over. In my humble opinion give them what they want. It is a sad truth of life but to get anywhere you have to sometimes compromise. and even then there are no guarantees, but it is all up to the individual. My niece told me of one publisher that was just so unreasonable she walked away rather then dealing with him. Years later she by pure accident reluctantly wound up writing for his publication, whcih reminds me I never asked her how that worked out

    1. I replied on the other site as well. It does become a tough call. It might be different if it wasn’t nonfiction……..hard to change then, certainly won’t change the facts, maybe just how many of them I present? Don’t know…………but, thanks for reading!

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