Posted in Self Published, Witterings

The Other Side of Me…

When I’d started to think about an appropriate title for my first book I remembered that some months previous I’d started penning the lyrics for a song. I had this romantic notion that having worked in musical theatre for many years I could write a script about the possible ‘goings on’ backstage between members of the cast and crew (and before anyone gets the wrong idea this was all in my imagination of course, and not based on anything that actually occurred)

Briefly, the backstory to the song went something like this…an aging West End Headliner no longer finds himself wanted by producers for any of their latest shows. His partner of many years, a girl from the chorus line, who with his help had made it to principle, no longer saw him as useful…she too no longer wanted him.

He takes a job as the Stage Manager of a provincial theatre and finds himself attracted to another member of the staff, but it’s not clear to him if she feels the same way. As he doesn’t want to get rejected again he adopts a demeanor of disinterest in her, and even though he wants to reveal his feelings…he can’t.

And so he sings

Dreams hide in the shadows, yet unspoken through fear,

As I dare not reveal them just in case she won’t hear.

So afraid of rejection and the pain of before, here concealed by the darkness

Will love pass by my door?

And then she looks at me, the demons disappear, I long to be

That special someone that she hopes to see,

And I pray she’ll free the other side.

I know if she were mine forever in my heart a light will shine

To show the way, tomorrow we’d define

If she opened up the other side of me.

But how do I tell her and just what should I say? She may not feel the same as I do.

Then she’ll think that I’m foolish, it may push her away,

Then my pitiful life would be through.

But then she smiles my way with eyes so full of love that I must stay

To be with her for more than just this day,

I just have to be the other side of me.

And when you look at me I hope you see the one you’ll love, and we

Will always be together endlessly,

And there can be another side.

Please say you’ll be right here to hold my hand and chase away this fear.

My every dream becoming crystal clear,

As you open up the other side...

I know that there’s another side…

Please God she frees the other side of me.

© Jamie Gray 2019

Posted in Self Published, Witterings

Is it me?…

I really don’t want this to sounds like ‘sour grapes’, but after working for over three years writing and perfecting my first novel, ‘The Other Side of Me’, (shameless plug) then spending hundreds of hours composing interest letters, along with a concise synopsis, to send off to the many, many literary agents around, why did I not have even a sniff of interest?

I was desperate to know why.

Okay, I understand that the most obvious answer is definitely not the one I want to hear…in fact I believe that everyone who has put heart and soul into their manuscript would never admit (or accept) they’ve turned out a piece of rubbish.

And quite right too, because why would anyone commit so much of their valuable time to a project that they genuinely didn’t believe was going to be successful. I truly believed in my story, my characters and my ability to assemble each and every aspect of my imagination into a readable manuscript…as I also believe that everyone who has ever put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) in an effort to entertain others does too.

My second novel, ‘Penguins & Panamas’ (shameless plug number 2) took me less time to write, but I’ve subsequently spent many more hours trying to tempt some kind-hearted agent to take pity on me and proffer their support. Alas the result has been an identical lack of interest.

I was starting to think that maybe my family and friends, having read my books, were being too kind…maybe I wasn’t a good writer after all.

So, in the name of research I trolled Amazon for other ‘self-published’ works in order to obtain, read and compare the work of various other aspiring writers to mine. I wanted to see if I could gain any insight into why so many of us are turned down.

I ended up (generally) reading stories that I absolutely loved. They were well written, had believable characters and provided various emotional responses. The sort of thing you would expect from a good book, and certainly on a par with some of my favourite ‘well-known’ authors (who of course I won’t name, just in case they read this and are offended by some unknown saying that some other unknown is as good a storyteller as them)

So…I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s them and not us…well most of us.

Book shop shelves are teeming with ‘Celeb Books’ who of course already have a large fan base who will readily buy anything their icon puts their name to. So I suppose it fair to say that agents and publishers are so busy with this, along with their regular writers, that they have no time or capacity for us normal, hard working, cash strapped writers.

So take heart all you great scribblers who’ve been rejected, I can honestly suggest that it’s not your fault.

Oh My Gosh…these grapes are so sour…anyone got sugar?

Posted in Live forever, Self Published

Fame may come, but I may not know…

As a continuation of my last post, I’ve been thinking quite a lot about this idea that once a photograph or piece of writing is committed to an online public domain it will remain there indefinitely. It’s so easy to create a site like this that any budding artist, poet, writer, photographer etc can display their creations for the world to see…forever.

In the past a publisher would only continue to reprint books that sell, and an author that wasn’t considered profitable for their literary agent would be quickly discarded and replaced. Now I’m sure that there have been many great works from some incredibly talented people which have drifted into obscurity simply because they lived long before the development of the internet and it’s powerful ability to record, store and recall pretty much anything.

Unfortunately for me, the two books that I’ve written (sorry if I mention that a little too often) have never been taken up by any of the publishing houses. So had I lived through the earlier part of the twentieth century and was desperate to see my work in print, not only would I have been required to purchase a minimum print run and store the remaining unsold copies in my little ‘two up, two down’ terrace house, but on my demise some poor relative would be detailed the task of disposing of them, thus rendering my life’s work extinct...permenantly.

But fortunately, I am living in this super age of technology, and with the development of ‘Print on Demand’ services and the ease of ‘self publication’ I, and many like minded, hard done by scribble merchants, can be reasonably assured that our brilliant manuscripts will live on for all time…unless of course our great benefactor Amazon needs to free up space on its futuristic country sized servers.

So there it is, we all actually have the potential to live on forever…at least the things we’ve worked hard to create can. And maybe many years after I’ve departed this mortal coil a spirited literary agent will download Penguins & Panamas, laugh themselves silly, and wonder how I slipped through the net all those years ago.

Never before have we all had the ability to get our ten minutes of ‘Andy Warhol’…but I would prefer it to happen within my lifetime so I could at least enjoy it 😀

Posted in Uncategorized

Dancing Bear

I would like to explain the reason for my title page containing a picture of a ‘Dancing Bear’.

It was during a trip to Canada that I first came across these incredibly skillful carvings, and I was so fascinated by the story behind them I just had to get one. For me the sculpture I bought fills me with happiness and I find it inspiring…no matter the situation I’m in, it can always raise a smile.

There are several different explanations of the story behind these carvings, and I’m sure someone will put me right on this, but the version I was told by one of the sculptors is the one that captured my imagination and truly explains the joy I see them, and probably the explanation I want to believe is true.

“The Inuits are great hunters, and we believe that if you’ve lived a good life and have provided for your family then the gods will bless you and return you after your human life to be one of the great hunting animals. These are the eagle, the wolf, the walrus and the greatest hunter of them all, the polar bear...

...If the gods see fit to reward me for living a good life and being a great hunter by returning my spirit in the form of a polar bear, the greatest of the animals, then I would be so happy I would dance.”

What wonderful symbolism and a great outlook on life…and death. I often look at my Dancing Bear sculpture and hope the story becomes a reality for the teller and offers him some sort of hope to carry forward in life.

And I get to wondering if all story tellers (including we writers) need to make sure we offer our audience something in return for the commitment they make to read our work…even if it’s just raising a smile in this complex world we live in.