Friday, September 23, 2011

Launching Literary Outlaw

So, I've launched something I've been talking about for quite awhile: Literary Outlaw. It will become the place that I publish my fiction, particularly my political and speculative fiction. The so-called 'Featured Story', titled "Conceived in the New Liberty" appears there. I've sent it out to one publication, but I have little hope that it will be published. I say this not because I don't have confidence in the story, but because it's not something that literary journals would readily publish. I explain this statement a little more below. But first, some philosophizing, brought to you by: My Mid-life Crisis, available in regular or economy size. I know. It's a little early for that, isn't it? Indeed. But 40 is just three years away, so I'm rehearsing. Plus, I had one when I turned 30, too, so let's call it a relapse.

Lately, I've been asking myself: what is it that I want to accomplish in life? Well, I'd like to be a writer. Check! Cool. Got that one down. I'll recap...I published my first book, The Famous & The Anonymous, in 2004 when I was nearing 30. The designer and publisher was the wonderful Steven Coy of Better Non Sequitur. Through Steven, I made the online acquaintance of James Stegall, who ran So New Publishing. After he published my work in two short, DIY-style anthologies, he then went on to publish a theme-based anthology that I edited, titled Consumed: Women on Excess. Three years later, in 2009, he published American Soma, although its distribution and publicity didn't go as I'd hoped. (The design, by David Barringer, is awesome, and I'm really grateful to him for his astute marriage of visuals and concept). The rest of my experience with American Soma was less than stellar. I leave it at that for professional reasons. I'm very grateful to author Jen Michalski, Iconoclast Magazine, and horror writer D.L. Russell for their reviews of the book. That helped take the sting out of some of the things that happened with So New. American Soma was the last book James published under the So New imprint. He now is distilling whiskey, I believe. There's more to that story, of course, but it's all water under the bridge. And water moves on. Not even rocks can keep it back. Indeed, rocks, over time, are worn away by moving water. So, let's move on.

American Soma was a mixture of different genres, all of them related to either the actual or metaphorical drugs people take (or are given) to mediate (or influence) their experiences in the world. And I'm very interested in this: in human psychology and the things people cling to in order to mitigate pain or navigate through the harrowing landscape that is life. I'm also interested in politics. As a college instructor, I see how little information students leave high school with, whether through conscious refusal to pay attention to anything that doesn't involve music, consumption, or good times, or through poor high school curricula. I suspect it's a bit of both. But many kids can't even tell me how many amendments there are to The Constitution, or what any amendment is after the second one. They really have no idea. So, I wondered: how easy would it be to convince them that something better is needed, that The Constitution itself is obsolete, that we could come up with something better? Pretty damn easy, I would wager. And therein lies the danger that I see, and that's what I've written about in "Conceived in the New Liberty". This is not something that is going to find easy publication. I'll be the first to ackowledge that.

Back in my elementary school days, I was a handful. I talked back to the teachers, and only through my Mother's intervention did I avoid getting corporal punishment. Oh, they wanted to paddle my behind pretty badly because I was not a docile subject. I was not a bad kid, mind you. I just didn't like people telling me what to do and when to do it. So, I stood in the corner a lot. I often spent recess indoors, so I could think about the ramifications of my inappropriate behavior. This causes me to chuckle now. Anyway, I've taken some of this childhood 'FU' and decided that I would start cranking out my work in a venue I felt comfortable in. Of course, I know that self-publishing, which is in essence what I'm doing, is denigrated. I will not be easily reviewed, but I return to my other experiences in publishing and ask myself, "When has it ever been easy?" The answer to that is "Never." But at least it's out there. Like water, I will keep moving, hewing a path through the obdurate field that hasn't truly welcomed what I offer. Here, folks, is Literary Outlaw.

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