Tuesday, April 25, 2006

What's Sad?

1. Meeting a mega-bestselling millionaire author whose hair color and style can only be described as "trailer park skank."

2. Seeing a colleague's self-promo postcard show up on PostSecret.

3. Reading an interview of a colleague who uses three pages of important-sounding four- and five-syllable terms to detail a personal writing process that can be summarized in eight words: I just sit home and make up shit.

4. Having a writer acquaintance forward truly hateful e-mails written about you that he/she's received from a colleague you don't know and have never met, and being asked not to say anything about them.

5. Going to a bookstore to purchase a book by talented writer friend with career woes, being unable to find it on the shelf, and then running into a big, gorgeous book dump for a no-talent twit who can't write a path out of a brown bag.

5a. Being tempted to kick in the sides of the stupid twit writer's pretty book dump, or rip the covers of every one of the forty copies it contains.

6. Wishing things could be different for so many while knowing that no matter what you do, say or try things will likely remain the same or get worse for most.

7. All the campaigning for awards under the crotch-hold of writer organizations, but especially the unsolicited pathetic vote-for-me letter & book package.

8. Making up ten lists about what's sad in the publishing industry.

9. Finding a writer friend's best work on a remainder table.

10. Giving up, not trying, or running away from it all.

Any you guys want to add?

25 comments:

  1. What's sad to me is that when I read your list, I felt as though I was back in high school all over again. Especially with 4 and 5 (think cheerleader with big breasts versus mousy nerd).

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  2. Marjorie, I just checked out your blog and saw the picture of you with that unique poodle-backpack-thingie, not to mention that winning smile, and I can confidently say, you are NOT mousy.

    What's sad to me is when I read this tip (a literary agent's entry in the 2005 Guide to Literary Agents): "Know your market. Agents, as well as publishers, are keenly interested in writers with their finger on the pulse of said market."

    (1) I hate it when people use "said" that way.

    (2) Know my market? I don't even like my market. It's an accident that my book will end up in this market (SF), because, you know, there's no established genre of intelligent extraterrestrial bird-like critter fiction. Yet.

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  3. Watching celebrities collect million dollar advances and receive huge amounts of promotion for their novels. Most of these books, if submitted by an unknown author, would warrant instant rejection. Novels by Bill O'Reilly and Nicole Ritchie come to mind. I dare anyone to get past the first five pages of either one of these.

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  4. Unlike Nicole Richtie, Bill O'Reilly is famous for what he says, not who he is.

    I'm more likely to purchase a "Celebrity" book from a Bill O'Reilly than a Nicole Ritchie.

    Also, #10 on your list is beyond sad. It's a heartbreaker.

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  5. What I find sad is that most people will never realize the absolute power they have over their own lives.

    (this pertains to writing, growing flowers and raising children - or cane . . .:)

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  6. I'll add another one -- just finding out five minutes ago that Kaavya Viswanathan, that 17-year-old Harvard whizkid writer, allegedly plagiarized portions of her quarter-million dollar advance-snagging first novel. (via Kristopher's blog.)

    I'm sad and I have a headache now.

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  7. Jealousy between writers, or from people who wish they could write. I can't stand it.

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  8. Oh, let me qualify that last post by saying that I mean when the jealous party bashes the target writer. Everyone feels envy at some point. It's what you do with it that matters.

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  9. Knowing that I am the only one standing in my way, and still refusing to get OUT of the way.

    Watching people who DO have talent, do something completely stupid and/or pointless.

    Not learning from previous mistakes.

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  10. My addition to the list:

    Whining about rejection letters. Rejection happens. So just move on.

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  11. I empathize with Andi's comment: Knowing that I am the only one standing in my way, and still refusing to get OUT of the way.

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  12. Ahh, yes, I was coming just to post about Kaavya Viswanathan. I walked around kicking things all day yesterday when I heard about that.

    I just erased a bunch of caps-locked ranting, but the basic gist is this: what kind of 19 year old gets a freaking advance like that when plenty of writers I know don't even earn out their tiny ones? ARGH.

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  13. I was going to comment on Viswanathan, too, because it really is sad. Sad that the literary world is getting to be one in which copyright can be held by an author and a marketing company and nobody seems to find it remarkable.

    Sad that someone so young who must have some talent has done something so fundamentally stupid as to copy passages. Ideas, sure, characters heck yeah, plot points you bet (we all do it to some degree), but passages? That's just stupid. And very sad.

    Viswanathan will have to work long and hard to overcome this taint. It's sad that, at 19, she's started off life taking the easy way. It doesn't bode well for her career. That makes me sad.

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  14. Sad to me is talented authors settle because, at heart, they're afraid they can't do better. It's like a person staying in a horrible marriage because they're afraid of being alone.

    Sad to me is realizing that all the other stuff on everyone's lists happens.

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  15. What I find sad are the 'smug' writers. Writers who think their stuff is better than Shakespeare and will tell you so at every opportunity.

    And I do find it sad when authors I love get put on the remainder table. :(

    And people who 'cheat' suck. Copying materials. Bleh.

    Now I'm sad. I think I'll write that depressing scene for my next novel now...

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  16. I can't add a thing, but your note had me rolling. The kind thing that could be said about number 1 is that the money didn't change them. Unless of course it changed them for the worse...

    Regarding the dump for the no-talent twit -- this is why they're called "dumps" I think.

    It's always weird when you go to your publisher and say, "I'd like a dump for my books, please."

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  17. Meeting a mega-bestselling millionaire author whose hair color and style can only be described as "trailer park skank."

    Anne Rice??

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  18. I'm currently reading the quarter million dollar advance book... I bought it because I read it got that advance and that she was 17 and I was curious what sort of first book warranted that sort of advance in today's market...

    I read she is saying it must have been subconcious... that she loved the other author's work and didn't realize how ingrained it must have become.

    Is this possible to you because from the comments here I read guilty and copied, which to me is very different from subconcious...Is it possible to copy so many passages so closely subconciously or is this, in your opinion, just an out?

    I ask because as a voracious reader, and sometimes for fun writer, how close tdo the words have to be? ANd how do you know for sure they didn't come from someone else you read that just stuck with you?

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  19. Who the heck does something like 4., if they are not an immature sadist??

    I mean, what good could possibly come out of doing that? Do they just want to make you miserable?

    Don't get it.

    (Um, hi, by the way. I linked over here from Stuart MacBride's blog. I also live in Aberdeen, and I write but not well.)

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  20. This is all quite sad, yet reading this post and these comments has been strangely cathartic.

    I feel a bit better now.

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  21. Hmmm. #4 sounds like me sending clippings from the school paper about people jumping out of dorm windows and off the medical school parking garage when I was a freshman in college home to my mom. Why did I do it? To this day, I'm not really sure.

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  22. Going through the same vicious cycle with each new book...weighing the pros and cons against traditional and self publishing...banging my head against the wall until my forehead is bloody trying to write a query letter that will grab an agent by the balls and convince them to take me on as a client...getting frustrated to the point that I say screw this industry!! Then I self publish anyway and am just as thrilled with each new release as I was with my first.

    Why do I do this every time? That's sad to me...that I can't just go into it knowing full well what the end result will be; instead I convince myself through the entire writing process that this time will be different...this will be the one. I guess that perseverance is what keeps me coming back to the keyboard day after day after day....

    Thanks PBW for keeping it real and keeping me grounded!

    Best,

    Jill

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  23. What's sad is that I spent so much time today pondering the identities of 1 and 5a. :)

    What's also sad is that Mary Stella's comment made me very, very sad, and I don't want to analyze why.

    Makes me glad I'm not a drinker. *g*

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  24. I've know people suffering from genuine writer's block. It was terribly frustrating for them and very real. I've also known people who only claim to be suffering from writer's block, when the real problem was an absence of ideas or motivation.

    As for the opposite problem, I read an interview with Stephen King, one of the most prolific writers of our time. He was asked why he continues to write every day when he already has so many books published. His response was ... "What makes you think I have a choice?"

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  25. Aargh, number 5! It drives me crazy. I no longer trust bookstores to tell me what's good. I went out and bought a book because it jumped to the top of the fantasy list. Got 5 chapters in and threw it away. It. Was. Crap.

    Why is it that the well-marketed books get to the top, regardless of talent, and the others languish? Some of my favourite authors are midlisters.

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