Friday, December 7, 2007

Literary Friendships: LoveYouHateYouLoveYou

A couple of readers have written in to share rejecting experiences they've had with their literary friends. This prompts us to take a break from teasing publishing professionals and turn an inward focus. (Always a good thing to do this time of year.)

The first anonymous confession says: "A friend sent me a note yesterday, outlining that when she had an agent (indicating reason for not having agent was laziness on her part) and was awarded a grant (same), that the "money and ease" would be lovely, and then...the friend noted: What I like about you is that you can be one of those generic writers that can get published anywhere and no one cares...."

The second anonymous confession says: "BTW, in the past year: 1.) One acquaintance fell into a [publishing] deal by some crafty feminine wiles; 2.) Another was nominated for the Pushcart on a first effort; 3.) Yet another got a pilot deal; 4.) Oh? Still one more got some shelf space at a magazine;5.) I got rejected by Barnes and Noble. As a cashier."

Pretty funny. But it does point out some of the pitfalls of literary friendships. So, let's discuss. As a writer are you jealous of your more sucessful friends? Or is someone jealous of you? What's the worst thing that you ever did out of envy, or that someone did to you? Please share your best stories.


Anonymous said...

It is all I can do not to kill my more successful writer friends. And, oh, dammit, all my writer friends are more successful.

What kind of life is this? All I do is go around trying not to kill people.

zumabitch said...

Ha, ha. And you have seen, WR, the coal-raking Zumabitch recently took over some esoterica.

The thing is, no matter what you do, there will be people who are successful and people who are not; my biggest education has been in rechanneling efforts in other directions. Rather than being envious, because often the real story is not what has made it into print.

TIV: the individual voice said...

What anonymous said is precisely the reason that NONE of my friends are writers. (No, I didn't kill them all).

Writer, Rejected said...

A lot of my friends are writers. I feel kind of bad for the new ones, who are all fresh-eyed and untarnished by the rejecting hand of publishing. I have one new friend who is probably on the way to being very, very famous. That is a little hard. This friend has not been rejected (except once by the New Yorker, though through an agent, who had sent in the story, which was excerpted from the soon-to-be-famous novel). This friend is very confident and is pretty certain that the book will be big, which makes me think it will be. This friend also has a very famous mentor who is helping out.

It's a little hard not to feel jealous of this friend. Not for the impending fame, but for the wholeness and confidence. I wish I had that. I have always been one to be plagued by doubt.

June said...

This frienemy of mine once stole the main premise of my novel for her award-fucking-winning short story.

I got back at her by writing my next novel about a frienemy who stole the main premise of her best friend's novel--and then died in a car crash.

TIV: the individual voice said...

Having a very famous mentor can make anyone, even you WR, very confident and cocky. I have never had a mentor, period. For anything in my life. Some people seem to draw them, or cultivate them or something. I'm just too difficult a person. I'm lucky I've had the same husband for twenty-five years. Given the choice, I'd take the steady, unfamous husband over the famous mentor. Oh, you mean there are people who have both?

Anonymous said...

You know who I really, REALLY hate? Those ultra, ultra-confident people who have this aura of inevitability about their success -- they believe in it so totally that everyone around them believes in it too, so that it's a self-fulfilling prophecy. GRRR.

I HATE those people!

I wish they'd just get some insecurity, like the rest of us!

Anonymous said...

I've found that the trick is to turn your green-eyed monster into a beast of burden. I've accomplished more and had more success in my writing when I've been fueled by seething envy. And, it's funny, doing that I've actually managed to sell more and accomplish more than some of those people I used to be jealous of.

Of course, then you just move along and find someone more successful to be envious of, and so it continues. Ah, the romantic life of the writer :P

Eileen said...

I do my best to separate envy "why not me?!" versus being jealous "I deserve it more." A friend's success in no way impacts my own success. I am happy for them while still cursing various publishing gods.

Lipstick Mystic said...

A fellow writer of mine quickly turned into a frenemy when I gave her a free copy/review copy of my latest missive which I was getting ready to self-publish (and actually ended up earning a lot of money for, so there ya go, ebook publishing rocks!)

When she received it I received an email back - this was the gist:

1) Thanks but no thanks - I'd never end up reading this anyway;
2) I published a competing article on the same subject you wrote your book about, and it's much better than yours (itemizing emails she has received telling her how great her article is, how it has changed lives, how it's better than CATS and people want to see it again and again, etc.)
3)How I shouldn't be charging money for the book, anyway, because "information should be free."

This, from a woman who had self-published her own book and was selling the print on demand version for -- gasp -- yes, actual MONEY! -- and to whom I gave tons of free research material culled from my own work for her to freely include in her book.

Who did this frenemy think she was, anyway? An agent? Geesh. Been there, done that, much prefer publishing and making actual money on my own - thank you very much!


PS The killer was that up until receiving the psychopathic frenemy email from her, she had always voiced 100% support for all my writing and publishing endeavors and came across as a true friend. Just goes to show you how publishing can make people insane and psychopathic.