- Mand Paskuski
Call Me Mand
Well, I think it's only fitting to end the year off with a little letter to you, Dear Reader.
I'd like to share some miscellaneous lessons I've learned:
If you're stuck living in the past, hoping to re-write a history you had no control over in the first place, you'll struggle endlessly to live presently and claim the future you desire.
You are not your trauma and your trauma does not define who you truly are. Shit happens. Move Onward.
Truth is hard to find but it's the only thing that matters in this life. I could tell you all about my time as an aspiring Pop-Star turned twenty-five year old Never-Has-Been and how it took another six years to ditch the bubblegum name I gave myself to stand out. Don't get me wrong, it served me well and I adored that time in my life, however, I no longer align with that path - I'm on a new road now, one where sweet Amanda Blush can't follow. When I began the "re-brand" of all my accounts and this blog, realizing how intertwined I had wove this character into my life, it felt like utter freedom. Simply typing out my true last name, felt for lack of a funner adjective - right. It just felt honest and authentic and right; My true name. All the fears of people not being able to understand or pronounce it, all the worries about peeling Blush away from the rigid bones of my life, scared of losing my sense of identity - it all melted away the second I typed out and saw it. Truth is hard to find, sometimes we find it early, sometimes not but it's the only thing that frees us, even from ourselves.
No matter how tempting, genius or clever you think you're being... don't send out query letters to prospecting agents while tipsy. I learned this lesson the hard way after years of never having the courage to reach out to an agent by the name of Rand Holston. I sat on the contact for two years until one night, after reading a bit of Bruce Robinson pulp, I got myself some liquid courage and typed up a letter - perhaps like Hunter might've done. I was feeling bold. I wanted to be fun and fearless and brave. I spoke of his roster being predominantly filled by middle aged men (most are) and teased with the ideals of my contribution as a means of portfolio diversification ... my disappointment was swift. I received an email the very next morning in a monotone: WE DO NOT ACCEPT UNSOLICITED MATERIAL. AT NO TIME IN THE FUTURE WILL WE ACCEPT ANYTHING FROM YOU. PLEASE DO NOT SEND AGAIN. It was a crap shoot but still, I wept. Of course this was standard practice and thoughts of "How could I be so stupid!" flooded my brain - I assumed because he wasn't with a major agency anymore and was working independently that I perhaps could bypass the formality of going through my lawyer. DO NOT DO THIS. I repeat: DO NOT DO THIS. My novel remains unpublished, but I learned my lesson the hard way and I've never made that green mistake again when querying other prospective agents or publishing houses - I shall include the letter I sent below for your per-view should you be of interest. It's highly embarrassing but I don't regret it - it is part of my come up story and gives good giggles.
Love deeply and fearlessly and fiercely. Shame and guilt don't rule your heart, at least they shouldn't. Don't let scar tissue build up so much that you can't let yourself be vulnerable and messy. Lord knows I can be a brat, I can be raw and brazen and big and child-like. I love that about myself, though and the ones in my life who really know who I am, love that about me too - what about the ones that don't, you ask? Oh well! Again, move onward - don't look back in anger - and keep loving anyway. Just love people and let yourself lose them if they need to get lost - chances are while they're getting lost, you'll find yourself.
Privacy is yours to protect. Miriam Margolyes said in an interview on Graham Norton once (paraphrasing) "It is a kind of cruelty, to offer up information to someone you know can't handle it." This stuck with me in a profound way. I used to share so much of myself with people, too much maybe. I thought this meant I was being open, that I was giving, that I was transparent when in fact I think it may have been just the opposite and to my own detriment. It's okay to keep things for yourself, to house libraries of stories and memories just for your eyes and ears only. Learn to gauge your audience and also realize "No" is a full sentence.
Cleanse. Bad habits multiply and metastasize if we let them. For me, cold turkeys are key. Cut out all the bad, trim the fat, breathe, accept and cleanse - your body first, then the mind will follow. Whether it be alcohol, cigarettes, vape pens, drugs, fitness fatigue, toxic friend / relation / situation ships, cold turkey baby. Whatever it is that's taking from you more than it's giving: Cleanse, cleanse, cleanse.
Submit to the thing. Whatever the thing is, submit to it. You're going to worry that whatever it is you're working on it's not ready, or that you're not ready, or that it won't be "good" enough. Fine. Do all that worrying and do it big... and then submit to the damn thing anyway.
Get organized. In your home, in your head and in your heart. Clean out and up everything surrounding you. Focus your attention on the thing you desire most, then one step at a time, inch closer to that desire. Rome wasn't built in a day. Progress is important, it begets a sense of purpose, which begets a sense of drive, which begets a sense of motivation which begets results. Romanticize the idea of documenting your progress towards the thing you desire - you'll be shocked how much closer you are to your goal than you realize.
It's okay, at any age on any stage, to feel like a loser. Even the losers, get lucky sometimes. =)
If I've learned anything this year, it is this: patience, perseverance and persistence are hard to maintain, but we must and we must have faith in ourselves; not get discouraged by the many rejections that may come our way - from people, things, places, jobs, finances, etc. Learning to fall in love with rejection will ease the hurt it initially brings. Forgive it all - keep onward. Keep writing that pilot or novel, keep practicing that dance routine, keep running your scales on that solo, keep reading, keep painting, keep learning, keep onward. Keep true and the dream will find you.
Thank you ever so, for once again turning round this wild world with me another year.
To 2023, let's see where it goes, shall we?
Call me Mand.
Below: The Infamous Query Letter. I wonder many things but you know, I think it would've made my literary heroes chuckle - so query it may be, but I don't see it like that, I see it as a rebellious literary love letter. [I hope one day, if and when I'm gifted the opportunity to shake hands with Mr. Holston, I'll have a funny little story for him...]