The Zorro Zee Path
by Pamela Moore Dionne
Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.
-- T.S. Eliot
I guess you could say I’ve had a checkered past. At least you could if you mean that I’ve tried a lot of different avenues to get where I am now – with one published book and two more on the way. Actually, when I picture this trajectory in my mind’s eye I see something resembling a long column of those zees Zorro used to carve into other people's jackets. The question is, why have I lived my life as though some errant folk-hero left his mark all over it?
One answer is that I get bored easily, hence the necessity for change. But beyond that, you can chalk up a lot of what I've done to the fact that I'm a risk taker – a risk taker who believes we learn more from failure than we do from success. Handy when I start hitting walls and failure rains down all around me. Not that I’m looking to create failure, mind you. I always intend to succeed and so should you. But everyone fails at some time or other. It’s inevitable given that the difference between crashing and soaring often rests on a single wing beat against the right updraft.
Perhaps the challenge is choosing the right wing to use against which breeze. That’s a tough one for me because I have a tendency to try to hit every breath of air that comes my way. I’ve pretty much tried all the crazy whims I ever came up with. I’ve got more than one degree in more than one field. I’ve been a wife and mother, a dental assistant, therapist, mortgage broker, educator, and the lead vocalist for an avant-garde musical group called disband. I’ve also been a visual artist and a metal and concrete sculptor with several one-woman shows under my belt. I helped my husband and his old college buddy start a medical software company that is now part of a larger company traded on the NASDAQ. I founded a nonprofit online art and literature journal called Literary Salt. This zine led to my creating a word game called Baffle Gab as a thank you gift for my editorial board. Baffle Gab led me to start a company now called Discovery Bay Games. Today our products are primarily digital, and we have partnered with Atari and Apple. I retired from DBG two years ago and am now writing full time.
Throughout it all, I’ve continued forward in the belief that someday I might actually get a book published. This belief rises above all earlier evidence to the contrary. The fact is I’ve written six previous book manuscripts, not one of which has been published. I came close a few times, but close does not earn you royalties.
Why did I keep writing and hoping to publish a novel when I was already successful in other fields? Why not just go with the flow – especially since it was a pretty good flow? The answer is easy. It’s because I couldn’t stop writing. Writing is almost like breathing to me.
And, besides, it all worked out in the end. True to my usual unconventional Zorro Zee Path, I found my publisher in a very serendipitous way. I had planned to bypass the standard agent/publisher route and simply e-publish the Blue Truth Trilogy on my own. I hired Jennifer Tough to create a knockout cover for Bleed Through, the first book in the series. Then I hired her husband, Todd Hemsley, to create a book trailer. Both of these components were accomplished with absolute professionalism, and I was blissfully ready to move forward with self-publishing my e-book. But then Jennifer contacted me to say that they were in the process of setting up as an independent publishing house and would like to publish my books. All three of them! It feels like magic as I lay it out for you here. But believe me, it was like anything that is really worth doing: hard work and more hard work. And it only took me about thirty years to accomplish.
So when you doubt yourself, please remember that all it takes is a good updraft and a steady wing. As Anaïs Nin once wrote, Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage. I have either been courageous or stupid but, ultimately, what it boils down to is the fact that I risked often enough to finally succeed. That’s what each of us must do. That and hone our skills by writing every day and submitting what we write. Nobody can publish a manuscript that’s hiding inside our computer. A publisher has to see it in order to love it. And if it isn’t outright love that comes back at us, don’t take it personally. And don’t dismiss it out of hand, either. This feedback may be exactly what you need to make your story soar and sell. I wish all of you luck and perseverance in equal measure.
AUTHOR BIO: Pam Dionne loves mystery • writes fiction, nonfiction and poetry • runs workshops • is a feminist • cooks fabulous food • loves to share recipes • has a great dog and an even greater husband • loves mountains and the beach • thinks there may be an explanation in string theory for the existence of ghosts and just published the first book in a trilogy about that possibility. Blue Truth: Bleed Through is available now in print and ebook.