Lone Wolves and Prides of Lions--by Reb MacRath
Dark dreams afflicted me: torn throats and treacheries beyond the heart's endurance. I saw a blur of fur and fury, a red mist of spiritual rot on the rip. I saw myself discovering the lone wolf in my heart.
You can imagine my predicament, since I don't even like wolves. I once called a wolf a thug in a hair suit and I stand by that assessment. Wolves in packs aren't any better--a step up from hyenas--though they have the sense to bounce the thugs out only for themselves. No, I don't like wolves at all and I believe Jack London was probably pure wolf himself.
Nevertheless, there I was at the end of 2012--with 4 ebooks that hadn't sold five copies and hadn't attracted too many more reviews. As I glanced about EbookLandia, I saw a frightening, icy terrain with lone wolves lording over hoards of starving beasts scrounging for crumbs. The lone wolves loved attention; and they loved reviews; and above all they loved their fat paychecks. But they shared little in return. And nobody knew where they'd buried their more revolting past tricks. Those who knew did not tell; and those who guessed, by and large, didn't have a clue.
The theme song that played in the background was Schadenfreude. (Per Google: An English expression with a similar meaning is Roman holiday, a metaphor from the poem Childe Harold's Pilgrimage by George Gordon, Lord Byron, where a gladiator in Ancient Rome expects to be "butchered to make a Roman holiday" while the audience would take pleasure from watching his suffering.)
Was it any wonder that dark dreams afflicted me...and that I seriously wondered if I'd sell my soul to become a lone wolf? I took no action on my thoughts. The bitter metamorphosis would have taken years. And yet, God forgive me, I wondered...
But something astonishing happened in January 2013. And this astonishing something turned my thoughts to prides of lions. At the urging of John A. A. Logan, I was invited to become the first non-U.K. member of Authors Electric. The honor stunned me. This was the first time since I'd arrived in icy EbookLandia that I'd been invited anywhere. And I now found myself in the presence of a tightly knit, supportive group of true-blue professionals--some of whom had also been legacy-published and dumped.
It got better still, and quickly, when AE opened its private page on FaceBook. In this cozy lounge members could open up about agents, publishers, contracts, promotion--and, bless me, technical things like formatting, changing type on Amazon, etc. It was possible here to ask for help in the form of reviews or promotion.
Now, the help in itself was most welcome. But more welcome still was the knowledge that prides of lions also roamed where I had gotten whupped. And lions banded together to hunt here for all required to help their books live--not because they are weak...but because they find strength in resources pooled together. I received quick help when needed from: Sue Price, Debbie Bennett, John Logan, Valerie Laws, Bill Kirton, Catherine Czerkawska, Cally Phillips,Chris Longmuir, Mark Chisnell, Kathleen Jones, Pauline Fisk--and Elizabeth Kay for the photo above.
This still left me with the challenge of reconciling my inner lone wolf with the new joy of belonging to a pride of lions. I resolved it in good time with no inner long division. The lone wolf rules when I work on a book: my decisions are mine and I'm out for the good of the story, the style, the pacing and tone. When I write, I'm at war with Committees: six hacks to write a screenplay, six more to revise it, twelve studio executives to tear it all to pieces...and then three orangutans to put it back together. The war isn't for MeMe--but me and my book. But then when I've done what it is that I do, I return to my place with the lions. And, man, it is good to be home.
The rules of the pride are quite simple:
You hunt together as brothers and sisters.
You share as much as you can of your catch.
You remember those who've helped you.
You never dishonor the pride.
And I'm not sure I fully get the 'lone wolf' thing - but remember that John Logan has a pretty interesting take on wolves in his short story collection.
I like wolves (mainly because I live in a country that doesn't have them native I expect!) but then I always think of Dances with Wolves which does tend to colour ones judgement! Why let reality get in the way of a good fantasy eh?
I'm still trying to work out what the time difference is from your side of the pond to work out if you are up all hours or an early riser! So many questions... so few of them relevant (I know!) But - it's nice to be nice eh?
And Cally - it's me who always refers to you as a herd of cats: that is, wilfully independent and impossible to herd because they leap over fences, go under gates and through hedges, run between the herder's legs, climb up their shoulders and sit on their heads... And in fact, I rather admire this quality even when it causes me problems. (I love cats.) How much more boring to herd obedient sheep. (That is, mythic sheep, as I'm told by a friend who has actually herded sheep that they are far more stroppy and difficult creatures than popular myth allows.)
But thank you, Reb, for allowing us to see ourselves, even if briefly, as a pride of noble, golden lions rather than a lot of little moggies.
And we're delighted that you're with us - and we welcome another American member soon.
Trite language suggests sloppy thinking.
And by the way, I'd be the first person to point out how badly I've erred in my own writing - lots of metaphors (and other stuff) that I wish I hadn't written.
Do you really believe you've offered readers a fresh approach by contrasting two overused metaphors? That no one else may have combined them wouldn't make them any less infelicitous; just the opposite, in fact. As I see it, this compounds the effect - and the problem - and I doubt that you'll convince me otherwise. You may not care for my frankness, but if I groan when I read something - my first reaction here - the piece is not likely to interest me, move me, offer me something to mull over (except, perhaps, in terms of what to avoid).
Style matters. Language matters.
Instead of reacting defensively, why not give my view some consideration? You have enough people backing you up here to be able to cope with the relatively minor irritation of my criticism, I should imagine.