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Roger Marolt: Roger This

Roger Marolt
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado

This week I’m begging for critics. That’s right. I’m looking for rippers, shredders, and merciless red-penners of literature; no experience required. I figure it’s a way to get back from the community for all that I’ve dished out. That, and it will help me polish up a piece I’ve been working on.

Over the years, a few people have encouraged me to write a book. My suspicion is that they hoped to distract me from writing my weekly column. Well, I did it and kept writing my column, too. I figured they had it coming.

The thing I’ve learned about writing a book is that it’s impossible to finish. I’m pretty sure I could work on this thing forever. What I have right now is a finished draft that needs tweaking. I’ve taken it as far as I can by myself. That’s where the need for critics comes in. I don’t want to hire anybody to read it, especially by the hour. That sounds like a trap to me. My wife and daughter have read it and said it is good, but they love me so much that I could compile a book of the ingredient lists for every flavor of Campbell’s soup ever sold and they would say they like it. I know I am a lucky man.

The thing is, I need readers who don’t love me, or who at least aren’t sleeping with me or ever depended on me to change their diapers, willing to take a look at this thing and give me feedback so that I can decide if it’s worth trying to make it better or lose it on the hard drive so that in a hundred years an ancestor might discover it and say, “Wow, that guy was weird.”

If you want to take a crack at it, I would be thrilled. I will send you an electronic copy of the novel in Microsoft Word format to read on your computer or iPad or print it out so that you can take out aggressions by marking it all up and scribbling comments in the margins.

I don’t care if this is done anonymously. In fact, I have an affinity for anonymity. I respect truth through deception. Go to G-mail and make up a name and account. Send me an email, and I’ll send you a copy of the book. When you’re finished, send me a critique without your name on it. I want the truth. I can handle the truth! I think.

A few knowledgeable literary types have told me this is a reckless way to handle my prized work. I asked them why, and they didn’t really know why. This lack of back-up gives me confidence to go through with it. This does not mean that this is not a reckless thing to do. It simply means that we are going to find out for sure.

When contemplating some unknown action like this, I always ask myself what is the worst thing that could happen if everything goes completely haywire. For my book, I think this would be someone pirating it, translating it into Mandarin and selling a billion copies of it in China. Hey, at least I’d get published.

So, it is with confidence, possibly false, I go forth with this unprecedented scheme in literary history. Before you decide if you want to help me out, I suppose I should tell you a little about the book. I would say, in general, it is a spiritual odyssey. Let me put it more directly: It talks about God, Jesus, heaven and hell. If that’s not your bag, then I don’t think the story is for you. I’m not looking for comments like, “Religion is bullshit,” “There is no God” or “You are an idiot.” That won’t really help me make the story better.

There is a lot of other stuff going on, too. It’s a love story full of soul-searching over a seemingly insurmountable dilemma that threatens to keep a young couple apart forever. A lot of the action occurs in Aspen. There’s mountaineering and skiing. Three climbers perish on a remote peak in Alaska during a horrific Arctic winter storm. There is a huge avalanche and catastrophic chairlift failure on Aspen Mountain. A family outing in the Caribbean turns into a sailing tragedy. There is complete voluntary abandonment of all life has to offer in exchange for pure materialistic gain via immersion in a career in a Midwest city. It might be poorly written, but I don’t think it’s boring. I’ve titled it “Divided by Infinity.” Please let me know if you will be my critic.

Roger Marolt is conducting this experiment at roger@maroltllp.com. He will be grateful if you become part of it.


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