If you keep your eyes open,
your head held high,
and your feet constantly moving forward,
even the most desperate circumstances
can eventually lead to greener pastures.
If you maintain mindfulness,
make a conscious choice not to panic,
and keep your perception clear,
even what at first appears to be a falling sky
can start to seem like heaven coming closer to earth
Scott Thomas Outlar spends the hours flowing and fluxing with the ever-changing currents of the Tao River. I have probably included that line in nearly 100 publication bios during the course of the past two years. And I ain’t just whistling Dixie when uttering such a sentiment.
I know that life is not all kittens, cupcakes, and cotton candy. Sometimes it throws a nasty curve your way. Other times it tosses a 101 mph fastball straight at your head. In those moments, it’s absolutely necessary to hit the ground quickly so you don’t suffer a concussion. However, it’s just as important to immediately stand back up, step into the batter’s box, and dig your heels into the dirt. The next pitch will be coming just as fast. There is no time for fear or uncertainty.
OK, enough with the baseball analogy. That’s old hat. I used to play the sport, but it’s not my bag anymore. I’m a writer now. So here’s an anecdote:
I woke up two days ago, opened my email, and discovered an unexpected letter from the owner of Longsword Press addressed to every author, editor, and photographer involved with the publisher. It stated, essentially, that he had bit off more than he could chew and so was shutting down the operation immediately and suspending indefinitely all books that were in production. The news came without any warning. Absolutely out of the blue. In fact, I’d just recently received a personal copy of the finalized book in the mail, and it was scheduled to be published at the end of May.
Talk about a punch in the gut to start your day.
I flow and I flux. Before even finishing the last half of the letter, my focus was already shifting toward what needed to be done next to solve the unfortunate problem. Prior to Longsword Press popping up on my radar, I had been planning on submitting “Chaos Songs” to Weasel Press. My poetry and fiction has been included in a few of their anthologies during the past couple of years, and so I’d been contemplating sending them a manuscript to consider for quite awhile. Not to put too fine a point on the matter, but the time to take such a step had obviously arrived.
I sent a query letter to the publisher, Weasel Patterson, explaining the strange turn of events and the mess I now found myself in. Thankfully, he responded within a few hours and told me that he was going to send the manuscript over to Em Rose Ramser for review. Just knowing that the book was going to be in front of someone’s eyes put me in a state of calm.
I woke up the next morning to another letter informing me that Weasel Press would be taking “Chaos Songs” on board for publication later this year. Hallelujah! Within a period of 24 hours I’d gone from receiving the worst news in the entire two years since I started publishing to being lifted back up to an even higher plateau than I was on to begin with.
I’ve long respected Weasel Press, and so having the opportunity to now be involved with them has turned what could have been an embarrassing disaster into a blessing in disguise. I’m on cloud nine, and I want to say (or scream from the mountain top) thank you to Weasel Patterson and Em Rose Ramser for believing in my work and, quite frankly, for saving my ass from a terribly sticky situation.
I’ve been in touch with Davide De Col, the photographer whose work graced the original cover of “Chaos Songs,” and he has assured me that we can still use his photograph moving forward.
I have no time or energy to waste on drama. I do not have any hard feelings toward the publisher of Longsword Press. I wish him all the best in wherever life takes him next. If I hadn’t become involved with his press, I never would have met and connected with several new friends I’ve made during the past months. Also, the book would not have evolved from its original draft into the finalized version it is now in.
Lemons into lemonade, my friends. It’s a damned fine beverage.
Douglas Adams was fond of writing in “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”: Don’t Panic! I certainly second the motion. Hell, I’ll even give it a “Hear, Hear!” for good measure.
Scott Thomas Outlar