If you have read Joseph Heller’s book Catch-22 or seen the movie then you will understand the title. This spurious philosophy has played a large role in my literary life and I doubt this will change in the coming years. When someone is famous and well-known, doors are open to him in his profession and other areas of life. When he is beginning and struggling, those doors and opportunities are not open. If you are uniquely talented you may succeed, and if you are related to a celebrity your chances are increased one hundred fold. This applies in many areas. If you have the last name and parentage of Roosevelt, Vanderbilt, Barrymore, Douglas or the scion of a famous writing family or business, like Field (of department store fame), or Cerf (Random House Publishing), or Hyatt or Trump, there is space at the top for you. Otherwise, the road is steep and rocky.
Agents and publishers are delighted to represent celebrities and individuals with a past record of success.
“When you have published something or been successful, then come to me.”
But the Catch-23 of course is that unless they represent you, you cannot become famous and if you’re not famous they won’t represent you, and on and on. I see many books written or ghost written about actors and celebrities and am not surprised by the public’s adoration of these books and writers.
I am a brilliant writer with many ideas and over forty books, five published by a small regular publisher and the rest self-published because after writing over two hundred query letters and sending out snippets of my masterpieces to agents, I remain an undiscovered genius and will probably die unrecognized and unappreciated by millions.
It’s not as if I have one masterpiece which I have worked on for twenty years like Malcolm Lowry, or have written a book essentially unreadable by the general public but lauded into immortality by James Joyce, or penned only a few books and lived on the notoriety of those like F Scot Fitzgerald, J.D. Salinger, and Harper Lee.
I seem to be doomed by what I call Catch-23, my inability to break into the public eye and I will die with a tombstone which says
“Under this stone lies no-one since the deceased requested that his ashes be strewn over the Pacific Ocean and some of them will hopefully be reincorporated into a beast or human body which will attain some notoriety in the years or millennia to come.”