Precious Cargo

Refreshingly Bitter And Twisted Observations On Life's Passing Parade.

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Location: Valley Village, California, United States

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Even Your Friends Won't Tell You

In response to my comment on excerpts from her rejection letters (see my previous post), Fran has posted all sorts of complimentary comments she received from readers of some her fiction that she's posted online.

That's all well and good. Unfortunately, those people aren't agents or editors. Somewhere in her post Fran writes that publishers' opinions aren't as important as the readers' opinions.

But without a publisher you're unlikely to ever reach many readers for your writing.

Either Fran's fooling herself and knows it or she simply doesn't get it and never will. She's not alone.

Look at this guy. Several nights ago Larry King had a program on people who are addicted to plastic surgery, and Steve Erhardt was one of his guests. Erhardt claims to have spent over $100,000 on cosmetic surgery to his face and body in attempting to transform himself into a human Ken doll.

In my opinion, he looks terrible. He's a freak. Yet he must clearly think he looks fantastic and that he keeps getting better as he has more and more disfigurements added to his face and body.

Psychologists have a term for people like him: they say he has body dysmorphic syndrome.

What he has is a defective feedback mechanism.

All living things have feedback mechanisms and many machines have them as well. We are constantly initiating actions and create results. Our brain mediates the sensory input we receive about the reults of our actions and then we modify our behavior accordingly.

Clearly, many people have defective feedback mechanisms.

Their actions don't produce the results they desired but they don't interpret the feedback from the outside world properly. They don't modify their behavior. I think most people would agree with me that Steve Earhardt looks grotesque.

Writers who receive nothing but rejection and are even told they don't write very well who can't accept the possibility that this may be an accurate assessment of their writing can't process what the objective reality of the world outside their brain is trying to tell them.

I have a friend who I've known since 1968. He came into a substantial monthly income about ten years ago because he's a member of an Indian tribe in California that built a casino on its land. All of a sudden I started to hear him tell me how he'd gotten together with someone, written some six or seven page screen story and how he was just in a meeting with some people who were going to give hima a $40,000 option on it. Another time he told me he might be going to Europe to make a submarine movie with sets and costumes left over from the film Das Boot.

His former production partner who claimed to have some very minor industry connections (he had none) put a ring in my friend's nose, mooched off my friend (free apartment and at least one trip to a Nevada brothel) and finally blew a good thing when he forged $3,000 of my friend's checks.

I last talked to my friend around Christmas and he spoke ebuliently about the project he and his current partner were trying to pitch-a docudrama about Wernher Von Braun.

I remonstrated with my friend after he'd been taken by his former partner. I met him one weekend afternoon for what I told my sister was an intervention. I asked him if his ambition in life was to be the world's oldest living twelve-year-old.

He answered "Yes" without the least bit of embarassment.

I was flabbergasted. Since them, when I happen to speak to him, if he happens to apprise me of his latest wannabe endeavor, I merely wish him good luck.

He's told me a number of times that he's happy and I believe him.

I'm a ball of frustrated ambition. He's never had any as long as I've known him. He nurtures fantasies, which is not the same thing as having ambition. When one fantasy pops like a bubble under the stress of reality impinging on it, he just creates a new one.

I envy him. I really do. I wish I could ignore the feedback the world gives me, but I can't. I'm a realist and a cynic. I can't delude myself about what happens to me.

That's my personal agony.


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