Fears, Confirmed

I predicted, upon the launch of this website, that I would prove myself an inattentive, if not terrible, blogger. And that has been realized.

The mumbled excuses are many. My last entry was from early December, a busy month for the biggest humbugs among us. I had one prepared, about a lousy neighbor. Everyone has a crappy person or family living nearby. Their yard is especially unkempt…they throw parties late into the night…they park rusty, unlicensed heaps with three wheels at the curb…unsupervised children routinely wander on to your property. We’ve not been exempt. We’ve dealt with inconsiderate, loud and disrepectful folks since we bought our first home, in 1986. But what we deal with now makes all others pale, because this situation also involves abject loneliness, isolation, mental health issues and what we think might be excessive use of alcohol/prescription medication. Then I decided its scope would only further exacerbate this individual’s paranoia and wretched behavior, so I decided to pour the emnity into a future short story when we are far, far away from Fort Lauderdale.

I considered writing an update on my limited-run TV series I am in the midst of, but it seemed a little vanglorious to provide a documentary look into somthing not complete, much less produced. Suffice to say it is going well. My commitment was to fully complete four episodes before submission to agents or influential people within the industry (and elaboration on what the subsequent four episodes would contain), and that goal is in sight by April 1. Its title: ‘Silver’. And, if anyone reading this should have a REMOTE contact to expedite it getting into the hands of people who actually count in the cable/streaming/premium network arena, e-mail me at RRossSS@aol.com. This is beyond the purview of my literary agent at WORDLINK, Mira Perrizo (who is shopping my novel ‘Diversionary Fires’), so it’s essentially a new foray into a new business. The constant reinvention of oneself is tiresome yet, as a writer, I embrace my own willingness to switch genres.

Then I was blindsided by a notice from Dreamspinner Press that my first novel, ‘The Cool Part of His Pillow’ (and a smaller fiction, ‘Bended Knee’) was going out-of-print at the end of March 2019. To an author this means, essentially, the death of your child. No new copies will be produced. The Amazon and B&N listings will vanish. New reviews? Unlikely, unless someone on goodreads discovers it. Its slide over the horizon is contractual, though, and not unexpected, but ends seven years of hawking, promoting, commenting and tweeting to re-boot sales of what becomes known as a “backlist” book (it’s among a poublisher’s output, but no longer new or current). Has it really been seven years? Yes. Its publication brought me great delight, awards, lovely comments. It did not make me rich. It did not propel me onto Jimmy Fallon, or NPR, or even a throwaway review in any major publication. But I know that, when I too have gone out-of-print, its spine will remain on someone’s bookshelf, some library or LGBTQ center, somewhere, and that brings me a measure of contentment. I don’t always think Dreamspinner did an exemplary job of promotion or marketing but they, too, were younger and finding their way in a niche industry, and they have grown so much since, in terms of social media and bringing their authors forward. One thing I DID learn: man, many authors in the M/M LGBTQ world are women. (For that matter, an astounding percentage of readers of gay male fiction are women. ) They write under pseudonyms, or initials that shroud gender. There is no author picture, for to do so would betray their identity. They are coy in interviews about personal detail. None of this is bad. Women should write about men as we should be equally free to write about women (although, frankly, I find it unlikely lesbian-specific publishers, who seem very contentious and antagonistic in their guidelines, would favor a man writing for their demographic). That I, as a male, stepped forward and spoke openly, makes me happy.

And now, we come to the end of March, with personal calamities, big decisions and other file folders taking center-stage: the ongoing illness of my husband’s mother; the deterioration of his father’s mental acuity; concern when my own mother cannot shake a bad cold; and looming decisions about our own future as we reach a “certain age” and where we want to spend those. Another Summer of anxious Hurricane warnings isn’t cheery but, then again, a single day in Trump’s alternate universe is angst-making. California? Maybe. Indiana? Never.

Which takes me to the final topic: a class reunion. A significant one looms and its significance has left me waffling. My graduating class has not been especially attentive in decades past. (Our 20th reunion featured impromptu gospel on a guitar and many people disgruntled or boycotting because alcohol was served, if that tells you anything about the general temperature of the small town I grew up in.) There were no five-year incremental get-togethers and, given this, the next reunion probably won’t be for another decade. It’s again being staged in that little, even smaller, town now as progress and interstates allow you to bypass it completely, a small-minded community that holds few good memories but plenty of sad and suffocating ones. Its late June announcement is marked with an attire suggestion of “business dress casual’ and already one attendee has publicly replied that jeans and a Harley T-shirt is as far as he will go. I’m not being a snot; I like my sweatpants and my bowling shirts and anyone who thinks I look homeless can kiss my formidable ass. It’s more the defiant declaration and the slightest whiff of confrontation that set off alarms in my head: “I can’t be bothered and maybe ‘ya want to fight about it?” Maybe I’m wrong. Travel plans for us at that same exact time are set, so it really isn’t on my radar. I would have to reschedule. Yet…yet…I feel a pang. People I DO want to see, I console myself, I WILL see, somehow. Why we cling to these artificial, self-created rites of passage, I do not know, but I also know that, on that night, when what remains of my class gathers and someone praises the Lord as someone else pukes his 32nd PBR into a trashcan, I will have regrets I didn’t make the effort.