The ones that got away...
Just about every writer I've ever known has stories to tell about how close they came to fame and fortune--or at least not having to worry about scrambling for work.
i'm writing about this tonight because I got a call yesterday from a friend I hadn't spoken to in years. It was good to hear from him. Nice guy, good writer.
The last time we'd talked he was about to break out. He'd gotten an advance of $200,000, the novel was bought outright for more than the novel had made him, and for the first time in years, he thought he could relax a little.
His editor left, the orphaned book didn't get the necessary promo and discounting and subsequently it tanked--and the movie never came to pass. He's back to being a mid-lister.
In my twenty-five years of full-time writing I had two moments when I thought I'd move up at least one rung on the career latdder. My agent called and said that one of two women editors who'd ushered in the gothic boom of the Sixties had picked up a novel at the airport by one Daniel Ransom. She finally learned that Ransom was me. She called my agent and told him that if I'd take some direction she felt she could make me a paperback bestseller. We were excited.
Three weeks later she quit her job at one major house and moved to another. I, she said, would go with her. But before she was there long enough to read my pitch, she decided that she'd had enough of big house publishing and retired to a small house that only published books about goldfish. Or rocks. Or some damned thing like that.
Scratch one would-be break.
The second one came the day a famous movie won an Oscar. One of the people associated with it said at a press conference that her very next picture would be Moonchasers by one Ed Gorman. I'm told most of the trades picked up the story. I even got a few calls from reporters asking me what the story was about.
You quickly get cured of Hwood enthusiasm. Everybody out there thinks you're a genius and wonderful and about to become a brand name--while they have you on the phone anyway. But stupidly I really believed this one was going to happen. Such powerful Oscar-winning people, how could it not?
The story's too long and painful to detail here. The director and I slogged through two years of waiting only to see it all just drift away. Smoke, the fire itself long dead.
Since then it's been optioned by three or four other people. I'm not complaining. The option money's been good.
Still I had a few idle daydreams about a movie success bringing back in print the two novels I consider my best. Not big money and certainly no fame...but it would've been nice to see them back in print again.
But then most writers have stories like these...