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Down the Road

Moving on -- a new year
By Milton M. Gross
Dec 30, 2012 - 1:00:39 AM

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I find it interesting that hearing a chance remark or reading or hearing something can change my goals....or confirm them -- coincidentally just before a new year begins.

I'm well over the topside of 29.5 and been writing for many years, a number of years as a news reporter and some as a news editor. But the only book manuscript I ever actually submitted, way back in the days of typewriter and paper -- and carbon paper, was lost by a small publisher.

He wasn't so small that he didn't admit losing it, but I knew that to resubmit it to him or another publisher would basically mean retyping the whole beastie from the carbon-paper copies. I was busy in those days so didn't redo it.

When I taught a writing class -- also for many years, I stressed to writing students that they not get involved in vanity publishing, paying someone to print their manuscript.

But that was then. This is now. I don't know if I've changed my mind about paying to see a book published, but I read or heard something the other day in the news that has made me question things.

My bottom-line question is have things in the publishing world changed that much? Or is "vanity publishing" still a way to "sucker" aspiring writers into buying something?

I know of one person, who has gone the vanity publishing route. As far as I know, that person is no farther along the publishing road to success as before that vanity press publication. A few copies have sold, and I was given one to review.

But I read of another writer who went the online "vanity press" route, and a paper-publisher, impressed with the high number of online sales, bought the book manuscript.* So this type of publishing may be part of my New Year's resolution. I'll figure out the rest of that resolution later, as 2013 progresses.

The renewed hope for that two-thirds-finished novel brought about by that chance reading or hearing of another writer's online publishing success may be another part of my New Year's resolution.

Maybe that resolution is actually to never stop dreaming or trying.

I remember when I was in college my father's telling me I would never have anything I wrote published, because I wasn't rich and famous. Then, a few years later I sold my first short story, then still later became a news reporter, then news editor, and even now am continuing with this column and other "stuff" with which I'm playing.

So, while my father was correct that I wasn't -- and still am not -- rich or famous, what he said about my not being published was wrong.

I don't know what your dream is, what someone has told you you can never do, but in this little piece of writing, my recommendation is to not listen to that kind of negative comment. I've always found that people who think little of themselves tend to want to drag others down to their own level of crawling in the mud. Somehow that makes them feel better, less like losers in the mud.

My unsolicited advice to you is, don't stop dreaming. Do continue trying.

Maybe this New Year will be yours too.

I'll close this with a paragraph I received for Christmas from my daughter in North Carolina....a kind of writing resolution from 1942.

That was the year Louise Dickinson Rich's first book was published, We Took To The Woods, which I had read years ago and sometime since loaned to someone -- who never returned it. Both my daughters knew my copy was missing and plotted together to find me a copy. The North Carolina one found it, and it became a centerpiece of our Christmas.

The paragraph is from the first chapter, "Why Don't You Write a Book?"

"During most of my adolescence -- specifically, between the time I gave up wanting to be a brakeman on a freight train and the time when I definitely decided to become an English teacher -- I said, when asked what I was going to do with my life, that I was going to live alone in a cabin in the Maine woods and write. It seemed to me that this was a romantic notion, and I was insufferably smug over my own originality. Of course, I found out later that everybody is at one time or another going to do something of the sort. It's part of being young. The only difference in my case is that, grown to womanhood, I seem to be living in a cabin in the Maine woods, and I seem to be writing."

* If you've had experience with vanity-press publication, in paper or online form, I'd sure love to hear from you about what you've learned.

Milt Gross can be reached for corrections, harassment, or other purposes at

Milton M. Gross Copyright 2012

Milt Gross Down the Road A Piece Column

Milt Gross Book Reviews

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