Friday, November 25, 2016

Thankful and Grateful

Thanksgiving Week in the USA, and a good time for all of us - wherever we might be from, or live now - to take stock. What are you most thankful for in your writing career?

by Paul D. Marks

I’m glad this said what are you most thankful for in your writing career. ’Cause I’m grateful for a lot of things in my career. And, for the most part, I don’t mind talking about them. But if this had been a more personal question I might have begged off since I like to keep those things close to the vest. Especially as, at the moment, I’ve had some issues that are pissing me off mightily. The whole last week/ten days has been one lousy thing after another, though none related to writing. And you tend not to feel real grateful when that happens. So this is a good exercise in helping to put things in perspective.

And I blew it, reading the question wrong, thinking it said what are you “grateful” for instead of what are you “thankful” for. But I’ll just leave it as is even though I could make a global change. It amounts to the same thing and I do feel a little foolish since it is, after all, Thanks-giving, not Grateful-giving.

As Cathy mentioned earlier in the week, it takes a village to raise a writer. It’s a rough road for most of us and unlikely that you just wake up one day with your finished book/story and everything goes well. It happens. It happened to a friend of mine at USC, who was walking through the cinema department one day when he got a call on the loudspeaker. He went to the office. They told him that Steven Spielberg was on the phone. Yeah, right, he thought, someone’s pulling my leg. But the only person pulling on him was Steven Spielberg, who’d seen his student film and wanted to produce my friend’s first feature. And the rest, as they say, is history. But that is the exception to the rule. Most of us work and struggle and play starving artist at least for a time. And when we do make it it’s often because there were people along the way who helped us and kept us from falling or making the mistakes they did.

So, what am I grateful for:

I’m grateful that I have/had the perseverance that it takes and that I didn’t give up.

I’m grateful for all the people along the way who took a chance on me and/or helped one way or another.

By Vojtech Sazel (Own work (Original text: self-made))
 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
I’m grateful for computers, even as I curse them and Microsoft and Dell and the rest. I still love the technology, at least when it works. My long-ago writing partner was the first person I knew who got a personal computer, ancient technology by today’s standards. I went to his house one day, saw him move a paragraph from page 10 of a script to page 65. Wow! Coming from the world of IBM Selectrics and literally cutting and pasting pages or parts of them when we wanted to move them and then xeroxing the Scotch-taped page, that was a miracle. After that, I was the second person I knew to have a PC. Yup, high tech, 2 floppy drives and no hard drive… A Leading Edge, similar to the one in the pic here since that’s not my pic.

I’m grateful for Facebook. I’ve met a lot friends there, some of whom I’ve met in person, others I haven’t yet but hope to. And a lot of them have been very helpful in various ways and I hope I’ve returned the favors.

I’m grateful for my first paid writing gig, which just happened to be about John Lennon for one of the LA  newspapers. If you know me, you know how much I love the Beatles. So it was an honor of sorts to have my first paid writing be for something about one of them. But that was the silver lining to the dark cloud, because the article was on the one year anniversary of John’s death.

I’m grateful to have won the Shamus Award (and some others) and to have been nominated and short-listed for the Anthony and Macavity and to have come in #7 in the Ellery Queen Readers Poll one year. Wow! That’s enough to make your head spin.

I’m grateful people actually read and liked White Heat and Vortex and my short stories.

I’m grateful for the friends I’ve made.

I’m grateful for Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America, where I’ve also made friends and learned a hell of a lot.

I’m grateful for my writers’ assistants, Egg and Little Egg. Bogey and Audie. Curley and Moe. And now Pepper and Buster. See the pic of Super Assistant Curley. He used to help me write, tapping away at the keyboard. Sometimes I liked what he wrote better than what I was doing.

I’m grateful to have grown up in the film noir country of L.A. and to have been exposed to all kinds of movies and writing and art in my life that I could then use in my writing to give it more life (I hope). And I’m grateful for the highs and lows and in-betweens of my life, which also have given me things to write about and draw on. I’m grateful for the adventures of one kind or another that I’ve had, some good, some not so good, but all good fodder for writing.

I’m grateful for my friend Nancy, who I’ve not seen in decades, but who taught me that grateful is spelled like that and not like this: greatful. And who, when she worked at MGM, gave me a secret insider’s history of the studio that’s never been published to my knowledge and that impressed the hell out of the authors of MGM: Hollywood’s Greatest Backlot when I showed it to them, as they’d heard of it but had never seen it.

I’m grateful for this place, Criminal Minds, where I can answer questions and spout opinions, express my weird sense of humor and even do some BSP. And grateful for my fellow Minds. I’m grateful to have been asked to join by Sue Ann Jaffarian and the other folks here at the time. And grateful to still be here. Grateful also to have been asked to blog at SleuthSayers by Rob Lopresti and Leigh Lundin. Another place for me to spout off ;) .

I’m grateful for rain in L.A. – now send more!

And last but not least, I’m grateful, not greatful, for my wife, Amy, who’s stood by me through thick and thin, ups and downs, both professional and personal. And certainly we’ve had our own ups and downs but we’ve always stuck together and stuck by each other. She’s my biggest fan and my best friend.

And I could go on even though when I first saw this question I wondered what the hell I would say, but it turns out when you—when I—stop and think about it I have a lot to be grateful for.

What are you grateful for in your writing life?

So, as this is the day after Thanksgiving, I hope you all had a good one!


And now for something not quite completely different: My story “Ghosts of Bunker Hill” is in the brand new, hot off the presses December 2016 issue of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. Get ’em while you can. And if you like the story, maybe you’ll remember it for the Ellery Queen Readers Award (the ballot for which is at the end of this issue), and others. Thanks.

Oh, and that is, of course, Bunker Hill, Los Angeles, not that “other” one on the East Coast. And more on this in a future blog.



Art Taylor said...

A great (or grate!) post here, Paul--a fine list of things to appreciate. Happy Thanksgiving to you--Thanksgiving long weekend now, I know, but hope you're enjoying it. :-)

RJ Harlick said...

Wow, that's quite the list and a good one. Great post, Paul. A belated Happy Thanksgiving.

GBPool said...

A lot of good things on your list, but for a writer that persistence is key. Never give up even if your back is killing you or it all seems like your dream is going nowhere. It's still going as long as you don't give up.

Larry W. Chavis said...

Great post, Paul. Among many things for which I am thankful is the existence of blogs and sites like Criminal Minds, where I have learned so much from accomplished writers like the contributors here. I attribute my small successes to all of you. Thank you.

Paul D. Marks said...

Thanks, Art. And Happy Thanksgiving to you, Tara and Dash as well!

Paul D. Marks said...

Thanks, RJ. When I sat down to do it I wasn’t in the best of moods, but it actually helped my mood get better and to put things in perspective. Happy Thanksgiving to you, too.

Paul D. Marks said...

Thanks, Gayle. And good points about never giving up, despite whatever obstacles, physical or mental get in the way.

Paul D. Marks said...

Thanks, Larry. There’s a lot of good stuff out there that we can learn from. And it’s free. What could be better. Have a great weekend.

Unknown said...

Hi Paul, sorry to jump in so late - I think I lost a day somewhere. This was a great and inspiring and funny post, especially from someone who's had a lousy week!

Paul D. Marks said...

Thanks, RM. Glad you enjoyed it and I hope you found your lost day.