Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Making things happen vs. letting things happen: Another example of life imitating golf.


Everyone has a bias, and I think it is always best to state one's bias right from the word Go--so here it is: I am a golfer, and this flavors how I think about life. What am I talking about? It's straightforward, really. A golfer can NOT make things happen. (Don't believe me? Ask Tiger Woods, who has NEVER come from behind to win a major championship. Every time Tiger tees off not in the lead, NEEDING to make something happen, the only thing that happens is a collection of poor shots, missed putts, and blown chances.)

Why am I telling you this? Because I am also a writer, one on the cusp of getting his first novel published. But as I stand on the cusp, teetering back and forth like Humpty Dumpty, I feel like I need to make something happen, to do or write something that will move me into the current. And that's where the aforementioned problem comes in--it goes against my (golfing) nature to force something. If you set out to birdie a hole, you'll more likely make a bogie. You have to let things like birdies (and publishing contracts?) happen. Right?

Maybe not. As much as I think that life is just a poor imitator of golf, it isn't always the case. Especially not in the publishing industry, where upheaval is a weekly occurrence. So, let's assume for the sake of argument that this is the case, that I do NEED to make something happen. In the extended golfing metaphor I am constructing, let's say it's the last day at the Masters and I need to birdie the 18th hole (long dogleg 4 par, second shot to an elevated, severely sloping green--like you didn't know that!). The smart play is to take out the three wood and make sure I hit the fairway, but that would leave me over two-hundred yards out, and I NEED to make a birdie. No, I have to take out the driver, risking the woods and that huge bunker on the corner of the dogleg, and get it further up the fairway where I can attack the pin. (You're still with me, right?)

The question is, what is the same play in my current predicament. What's metaphorically equivalent to pulling out the big stick? My son is sitting next me as I write this, going back and forth between writing college essays and watching re-runs of The Office on his computer (you'll never guess what is winning out?) So I can't help but be inspired by Michael Scott (and yes, I do realize this is a bad idea.) WWMSD? Michael Scott would climb onto the roof to pretend he's considering jumping as a ploy to draw attention to himself, and then almost kill himself trying to pretend he's killing himself, and ultimately succeed in fulfilling his goal. But The Office is not like real life--at least I really really hope not. So I need a Plan B.

Keeping with my current theme of employing tactics I learned on TV (I can see the book now, Everything I Need to Know I Learned on Television) we turn to everybody's favorite, Scooby Doo. In this analogy, Velma, Daphne and Fred research and write The Next Great American Novel but are unable to find a literary agent to represent it, while Scooby and Shaggy jot down a few jokes on a napkin as they eat hamburgers in a diner, and then literally run into the CEO of a publishing company as they walk out onto the sidewalk, who picks up the napkin, laughs hysterically, and publishes their best-selling humor book. Ok, Plan C.

Let's go Old School, Seinfeld-style for C.  Jerry and George and write a book (about nothing of course) and Elaine edits it to a state of near-perfection, but she is accosted by a gang of street midgets on the way to the publisher, and the one and only copy of the manuscript is stolen and ultimately used as raw material for a paper airplane contest. Meanwhile, Kramer trips on a popsicle stick, lands on a large stack of 1950's pin-ups someone is recycling, and makes them into a best-selling coffee-table book.

I am about out of ideas for now, so I will end here, plus I need to pick my fall raspberries



 before the birds eat them all. Please visit MY WEBSITE and leave me a Plan D (you can tell I sorely need one.) If I don't hear from you, I'll be forced to pull out the three-wood--and there's no guarantee that's finding the short grass! Thanks again for your patience and loyalty--I appreciate it.



Peter Hogenkamp is a physician and author living in Rutland, Vermont. Peter's writing credits include ABSOLUTION, the first book of The Jesuit thriller series; THE LAZARUS MANUSCRIPT, a stand-alone medical thriller; and The Intern, a serialized novel based loosely on Peter's internship, published bi-weekly on #Wattpad. Peter can be found on his Author Website as well as his personal blog, PeterHogenkampWrites, where he writes about most anything. Peter is the founder and editor of Prose&Cons; a frequent contributor and reviewer at ReadWave; the founder and moderator of groups on Facebook (The Library), Google+ (Fiction Writers Anonymous), and LinkedIn (Tweets, Novels and Blogs); and a Beta-reader at StoryShelter. Peter tweets--against the wishes of his wife and four children--at @phogenkampvt and @theprosecons. He can be reached at peter@peterhogenkamp.com or through his literary agent (Liz Kracht of Kimberely Cameron & Associates) at liz@kimberleycameron.com.