Thursday, June 4, 2009

Don't throw me under their bus.

I'm having one of those nights. Ill, it's been way more than I could do to handle half of what I needed to get done today. And when I'd declared enough, I went to the particular pain that is my work in progress. Don't get me wrong. I still believe in the story and love the narrator. But understand that the story was conceived years ago, gestated on an elephant's time clock, and was "played with" for about as long while I started to get my shit together in order start taking my would-be career seriously. I'm ready to be done.

It's like that period of pregnancy, especially if the babe is past the due date, in which mother is ready to dig the thing out with a spoon. She loves her little bundle of joy and doesn't mean to call it "the thing", but enough is friggin' enough.

I needed to get a little encouragement from my peeps, and one just happened to be online. She shared a link with me...A Raspberry to Ranters. Adorable babe, I wrote back. And I wonder who provoked the post. It may not have been this particular rant, wrote my peep who sent another link, but it was certainly one like it. The Talent Killers: How literary agents are destroying literature, and what publishers can do to stop them.

It's a fairly long essay on why agents suck. But, of course, that alone wouldn't bother me much. I would consider it unfair as not all (probably not most, but it's not like I've personally made the rounds) agents suck. Some don't acknowledge that they've received your submission, demand exclusivity, and blow a vein if the writer has the nerve to contact them to find out if they've indeed received the submission. At least, so I've read. And there are tons of other things that writers have vented about that I'm not going to list.

From the outside looking in, barely sticking my toes in the water, it's a crappy system on this end. Your heart and soul goes into this story, much time and labor goes into revising it (or time, labor, bitching about wanting to get on to the new stories blossoming in your head and reading posts that in no way speed up the revisions). You learn everything you can about the submission process, do all you can to draw inside the lines because, realistically, you're auditioning for someone that you then have to pay (?!!!?), and maybe you still get rejected because, though the guidelines called for urban fantasy, the agent really wanted a futuristic pirate paranormal romance. Oh, and they send you a generic form letter, so you think it's just because no matter how you hone your craft, you suck.

I get being sick of the system. If it weren't for the fact that I can see the other side, I wouldn't buy into it either (you know, the side where every third person wants to write a book, half of them actually go though with it, and 9 out of 10 produce prose so lame that the mind goes numb with the first few pages; yes, if I were an editor, I'd like to have agents sift through the worst of it before I had to read it, too). I get it, but...

I can tell you why your desk is piling up with flimsy bits of vampire
literature, fantasy, romance, detective stories and the kind of first-draft
bubble gum that used to be called chick-lit but is now shuffled in with other
women’s writing in order to give it heft—although as far as you can see, neither
the quality nor the subject matter has improved—which you are required to
somehow turn into publishable books. It is because the vast majority of literary
agents do not, in fact, have any interest in literature. They are only
interested in jackpots.

Seriously? Your first book didn't sell, you can't find an agent for your literary brilliance, and you want to toss genre writers under the bus with the rejecting agents? How dare they write stories that people actually want to read! It can't be art if it's enjoyable.

Within the first couple of comments, the obvious was said (self-publish!), so why am I bothering with this silliness? Damned if I know. Maybe because she has gall to write in the comments that she's thinking about self-publishing but can't find an editor. I guess Google doesn't work in her universe? People through out Western civilization need, pay rent or mortgage, silly things like that. Independent editors, being a subgroup of people, do things like make websites so you can find them. (Why look, half a thought and three seconds of typing and I've found a group that claims to have worked with Maya Angelou and Jorge Luis Borges among many others.)

Maybe it's because she's just wrong. Forget the great, artistically crafted genre fiction among the pulp (which is worthy and enjoyable in it's own right, thanks just the same). She not only sites Mark Twain among her literary greats (he who said, "Literature is something everyone wants to have read, but no one wants to read.") but Margaret Atwood who's literature isn't mind numbing, but her best works are spec. fic. that she calls literature so academics will still consider them "important."

Or hell, maybe I'm just falling into her trap and giving her some of the free advertising she'll need when she does self-publish. Yeah, that's likely it.


Julie said...

ummm, I think I said it all in IM and I'm pretty tired right now, so it'll come out incoherent. But I'll try and come back and comment in a more real fashion later.

azteclady said...

I think that it's a common--if kneejerk (or plain jerk)--reaction to blame one's shortcomings on others, and often envy at others' successes makes for bitter spewing such as that one.

On your writing: don't give up--this is the easy part, I'm told. Wait until you are in labor for oh... forever?

(((An))) Hope you feel better soonest