The New York Times called him Mr. Cinderella!
It's a story that makes my day. Paul Harding wrote a beautiful book that all the 'players' rejected. Only a small independent publisher, and a small dedicated bunch of independent booksellers championed this work they loved.
Apparently a lot of the rejection letters asked where the car chases were. They claimed no one wanted to read a contemplative slow moving "quiet" book. Well, I thought, what about "Gilead" by Marilynne Robinson? I was moved, riveted, in love with that book, and it was no "Die Hard Again, and Again!" And I do believe it sold very, very well.
Sure enough later in the article (after the mention of the Guggenheim fellowship Paul has now received) it says Paul Harding studied with Robinson at the Iowa Writers Workshop.
She says, " One of the problems I have is making my students believe that they can write something that satisfies their definition of good, and they don't have to calculate the market...Now that I have the Paul anecdote, they will believe me more." As if she were not proof enough?
Well, anyway, more rejoicing. I do believe that the second you try to chase your sense of the market, you've lost your soul, and you will also lose whatever it is that makes you unique.
So what is your definition of good? For me it's when something I'm working on brings on the tears. That's usually a sure sign that I'm on to something. Whether it's tears for the beauty of the chord progression, the twist in the harmonic shifts, or tears for the wrench a lyric will give my heart, that's still the reason that I sing.
I can't wait to read "Tinkers."