The Wild Animal of Lust For Venice and Italy

The city of Venice, built on 117 islands.

Venice, built on 117 islands. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve just spent the last half hour torturing myself looking at photos of Venice, Siena and Florence.  My life is so pedestrian at the moment it’s driving me crazy.  Ever since I lived in Siena, a million years ago, I’ve had a lust for Italy that has never gone away.  It’s been like a wild animal in hibernation, quietly sleeping somewhere in the recesses of my brain, waiting…

I wanted to go back but never managed to.  Too busy ferreting ghosts out of my closet then dealing with them, trying to wade through all the crap to find myself.  Then falling into a pit that seemed bottomless, and learning to crawl out.  I know I’ve had to do it, and if I’d gone back I wouldn’t have been able to have a stable life, so I don’t regret the work I’ve done in facing myself.  I’m very grateful for the help I’ve had and still have.

But I’m so damn sick of survival, and watching other people live adventurous and exciting lives. For heaven’s sake, I’ve ridden a bicycle through East Africa and from New York to Key West.  What’s happened to my courage?  I know I wasn’t born for a pedestrian life.  Today, those gorgeous photos of Venice – outrageously fabulous – woke up my wild animal lust with a start.  Oh, hallo! I remember you.

Well, other people have made it through crises and risen above so I must be able to also.  That’s a reassuring thought.  Need to have a word with God, maybe.  God or the Universe.  Look, I’m willing to apply myself but whatever else it is that I need to learn, or embrace, just send it my way would you.  And yes, yes, I know, I can’t win the lottery unless I buy the ticket.  Speaking metaphorically of course.

On which note I’d better do something practical, like my crime novel and paranormal romance.  Nobody seems to like my ebook And What About Me? Am I Into Him?so far, which doesn’t mean it won’t succeed at some point, I know that.  But maybe I’ll have a better shot with one of these others.  So let me get to them.   I wish somebody would discover me.  I’m sure I’m worth discovering.

Venice, I have not forgotten you…

To buy my ebook And What About Me? Am I Into Him? on how to get real love and respect and be real in relationships,  Click the title.

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Getting Rejected by Agents, Believing in Yourself and Not. Giving. Up.

Writing can be a lot of fun.  The world of publishing isn’t.  Well, not all the time.  Definitely not while you’re trying to get into it.  I guess any meaningful journey feels significantly lacking in anything vaguely resembling fulfillment now and then.

I’m looking for agents, so my book can be a real live one as well as an ebook.  Finding and  researching them to make sure they’re right for me is laborious and time consuming, but it’s exciting when I hit on one who seems perfect.  Which I did two days ago.  Daniel Lazar works for a New York agency, Writer’s House, and he seems straightforward, has a sense of humor and a big heart.

His bio blurb says “If you think your pages can make me hold my breath or miss my subway stop or even laugh out loud…”  I like that.  So I sent him my proposal – which I’ve worked on for weeks, editing, re-editing, thinking it’s just fine then realizing it’s not, throwing it out, starting again.  If I still worked on a typewriter my room would be littered with crumpled up rejects.

People say don’t invest in outcomes, don’t get attached.  What a lot of crap.  It’s impossible to write a book and not hope that the world will love and respect it and you’ll sell millions of copies and make it to the New York Best Seller list.  People who don’t let themselves have that dream are scared of disappointment so they shut it down.

Today I understand them a little better, although I still think it’s half living.  I got an email from Daniel.  So soon!  All agents say you’ll only hear from them if they’re interested.  My heart leapt – he loved my proposal and me, he wants to read the whole book, this is it, I’m on my way, New York here I come!  Heart thudding I opened the email.

It was from his assistant.  “Daniel asked me to reply…your project does not seem right…”.  Damn.  It’s like a mini-death, there’s no way I could prepare for how heavy my heart feels, and all the crucifyingly criticial crap that comes flooding into my head.  About my book being not good enough for a reputable agency, me being a ridiculously lousy writer, a dreamer without a hope in hell of ever succeeding…

But now I don’t feel so bad.  Daniel, divine as he is, obviously isn’t the right agent for me.  It doesn’t mean there isn’t one out there somewhere.  There must be.  Perhaps we’re moving towards each other already in ways neither of us is aware.  That’s how life works.  All I can do is play my part.  I’ve already sent to a bunch of other agents, and I’ll carry on sending to some every day.

I’m getting together with SEO Afficionado Vernon Chalmers on Friday to discuss my marketing strategy.  I’ve nearly finished the thriller script and I’ve started on the crime novel.  I’m going to carry on, no matter what, and hope like hell my fate isn’t like Van Gogh’s.  I might go mad and end up penniless – but I’m familiar with both those states so it doesn’t bother me too much.  At least I shan’t lose one of my ears.  Ha.

Getting your work into the world can be hard.  Some people are born into an environment that predisposes them to success, but many aren’t and part of the journey is developing a belief in yourself and your work.  The only way that belief can grow is through getting rejected, and learning not to give authority to the messages in your head that say the rejection means you aren’t any good.

The real enemy isn’t the world, or agents or publishers, it’s in your own head.  Conquering it is a fight, it’s one of the hardest things in the world.  But it’s the good fight, and the better you get at it, the more you stand behind yourself deep in your heart.  That’s when the world starts responding to you, duh.  There’s no way past the impasse but through it.  And it’s indisputable that you can only make it onto the list of people who might succeed if you don’t give up.

9/11 – The Day New York Was Raped Broke My Heart

I can remember exactly the moment I first saw the news about the attack on New York.   I was home in Cape Town, South Africa.  I switched on theTV absent-mindedly.  Those horrific images hit me like a punch in the gut.  I had just returned from a trip to New York, my second visit but the first time I’d spent any real time there.  I stayed in downtown Manhattan, not far from the Twin Towers.

My first visit was when I was 21 and it terrified me.  I arrived with my then husband from London.  We’d brought our bicycles with us, intending to ride down to Key West, and we got off the plane, and foolishly decided to ride into Manhattan.  Got lost and ended up in a really dodgy area after dark.  I was so naïve it didn’t bother me.  What did I know about New York, anyway?  Nada.  We stopped to get an ice cream.

The vendor said what are you doing here, you two?  Riding into Manhattan, we said.  His reply? “Get out of here.  Now!  And take the subway.”  Gulp.  So we took the subway.  Covered in the graffiti of angry youths.  Come midnight I was sitting on the sidewalk in Times Square bawling my eyes out, trying to fend of drug pushers, terrified out of my wits.

Some wonderful young man rescued us and took us to his apartment; fed us, gave us a place to sleep.  We left the next day and I thought I never wanted to see that awful city again.  But about 24 years later I was back.  Much less naïve and with much more sophisticated tastes.  And I fell in love with that great city.  I loved the energy, the aura of romance, the fabulous architecture.  The men, oh yes, the men!  What is it about them?  Smart, sassy, nice to look at.

People had often said how aggressive everybody was in New York but I didn’t find it so at all.  In fact I thought people were more at ease with themselves and their lives and much less aggressive than here in South Africa.  I certainly felt safer there than I do here, and I took that subway late at night, walked around by myself.  Never felt even vaguely threatened once.

I spent a lot of time in Central Park, lustfully contemplating the apartments that look down on it, dreaming of living there one day.  Just like Yoko Ono.  Have to really make it big to be able to do that.  Actually, I’d settle for one of those gorgeous studio apartments in downtown Manhattan, Tribeca for example.  They’re amazing, they have huge windows and sometimes the entire front façade of the building is a cast-iron mold.  I also had tea at the Ritz, and dreamed of spending a weekend there.

Oh, New York is a place you can dream, but it’s also a place you can come alive.  I did that, and came home pretty reluctantly.  Some people leave their heart in Paris.  I left mine in New York.  So that day I turned on the news and saw the rape of my beautiful city, it broke my heart.  It still does, every time I think about it.

Like Billy Joel I’m In A New York State of Mind

Went to the gym today light-hearted and feeling almost weightless.  Listened to Billy Joel sing I’m in a New York state of mind over and over.  Me too, Billy.  That city symbolizes something to me – I’ve watched so many films that were shot there, so I guess it represents a world of possibilities, the kind that come to fruition in movies and sometimes in life.

I stayed there once for two weeks and fell in love.  With the gritty rawness of downtown Manhattan, with Central Park whose trees were turning in autumn colors.  With the hugeness of and classy sophistication of some of the architecture in the upper East Side.  Americans sure know how to build grand monuments to their fertile imaginations.

I went to the Guggenheim and saw the most incredible exhibition of Armani designs; and to the Metropolitan Opera where what was left of my heart was stolen.  I strolled Broadway at night, watched a play starring the actor who plays Mr. Big in Sex and the City.  I got to the top of the Empire State Building and imagined I was waiting for Mr. Right and his kid, a la Sleepless in Seattle.  I went to a jazz club where 14 musicians jammed before going on to their jobs on Broadway, and I heard an old woman sing the blues in a down and out joint.  My god she was beautiful.

I stayed in a hotel in downtown Manhattan, close to Tribeca, where I was treated very rudely and with much suspicion.  I didn’t care.  I walked all over the place until I dropped.  Strangely I felt safer there than I do at home.  Late at night I went to sleep to the cacophanic music of New York police and ambulance sirens and woke up to it again at 5 in the morning.

I loved every bit of it and cried when left.  I’m going back some day, oh yes I am.  I’m in a New State of mind.