Saturday, August 23, 2008

Why Don't You Get A Life?

An Open Letter from an Anonymous Blogger:

Dear Rejected Writer:  This is a really good blog. The pictures are laugh-out-loud funny and always incredibly fitting. It's clear whatever you write must have the same kind of details. So-- I'm having trouble understanding: why spend any time on this blog? Given that it's not really 'book deal' material, like a regular (but probably less visited) 'writer's blog' would be, where you posted your writing, etc-- what does the blog do for you personally? You seem talented,and from your descriptions of continuing to support various literary magazines by sending them your stuff, also really hard working. Why not only work on your own writing? Why do this blog at all? Anyway- just a thought. Take care.

My Response:

Dear Anon:  One word for you: therapy.

(Now, if you'll excuse me, the producers who optioned the screenplay I wrote based on one of my published short stories are breathing down my neck for a revision; three of the people who pay me gobs of money to write their technical gobbledeguck want copy by Monday; an editor is waiting to see the new radically revised version of my novel; and an old friend is in from out of town.  So, gotta' go.)

p.s. Cheaper than $150.00/hour sessions, no?
p.p.s. This post took under 5 minute to create (fyi).


Joy said...

That's the thing about blogs--they really don't take much time... to write. Reading them is the big time suck in my world.

Anonymous said...

Hey blogger,

Your blog is snarky, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised by the post I saw this am when your blog came up again on a search for "Jacob Appel", whose story about a Turk in Queens someone told me I should read.

But I didn't mean at all-- "Get a life." You can't tell from someone's blog whether they have a life or not.

I meant-- I don't really get how having this blog and having this much of a focus on how excruciating the mechanics and the industry side of writing is, can enhance the actual writing and the pleasure of writing.

That's the part I don't get. But I guess it depends on whether or not you have a day job as a writer that's independent of writing; if you like the industry side/ making fun of the industry side; if the rejections mean something to you. Chris Adrian apparently submitted 11 stories in a row to the same journal before he got his first one accepted. That seems like the norm.

Anyway, again, did not mean anything like that. Really meant- how does any kind of focus on the rejections interact with the writing? Doesn't it just feel good to wrong?

Don't feel like any answers to these questions are necessary, and feel free to make fun of them all you want. No insult whatsoever was intended by the original post.

take care,
anonymous blogger

Writer, Rejected said...

Oh, sorry. I sometimes misjudge the tone of things.

Anyway, to answer your earnest question, this blog helps me keep going. Even just knowing how many other writers get rejected and how often and how specifically helps me.

Trying to understand the business aspect of publishing is comforting to me. Knowledge is power and all.

Lastly, this blog really does function therapeutically for me. I have a place to post my rejections, a place to put them, so they are not interfering with my thoughts and my confidence when I am writing. To me, that's a lot like therapy; you get to express the stuff that otherwise would get in your way and lay you out flat.

Anonymous said...

THanks for your post...I wasn't going to write more, because of time issues...but there was one other thing I wanted to say which might be helpful.

I think some of the snarkiness of the rejections (including the ones that other people have sent to you) really comes from the intersections of frustrated writers/ writers close to other people's big advances or big "successes", with the process of getting published and editing.

Ie-- a lot of the assistants, etc are actually MFA students, or MFA graduates who may not have been able to publish.

I bet they are a bit meaner to people whom they're not going to publish, but who are clearly good enough so that it's obvious they're going to get published somewhere and will probably succeed.

I think that's where some of these really shittily-worded rejections come from ("Count this rejection not only of your single piece, but all future pieces"). There's a blog by one of them who works at a lit agency - "THe Rejector." It's awful what she says about people. There's a way she's doing the job because she enjoys being mean.

But the people who have had bigger successes -- ie well published, successful writers, as well as agents who are rich now, as well as editors of various journals that are respected but not necessarily that big or that impossible to get into-- there are a few I'm thinking of--

actually these folks are nice. They write back to you. They encourage you to keep writing. If they reject, they often say why.

So take heart. There are just a lot of jerks around but the ones who enjoy being mean that much are not goingto get anywhere.

E. said...

Anon, that's a theory that dovetails perfectly with my long-held observation about large corporations; if there's jerky behavior, it's from the middle managers. The low-lifes complain among themselves, and the executives -- the ones who've already "made it" -- are almost without exception personable, kind, caring people who are generous with their attention and time. It's the people in the middle who kick the lower dogs because they're afraid of being kicked themselves (not getting promoted, etc.). What they don't get -- they never get -- is that it's from those lower ranks (the slush) that the next great strategist or analyst or idea person or leader is going to emerge... and blow right past them.

These are, of course, trends with exceptions.

Generally, though, exercising power tends to bring out the worst in people who are insecure in their own pursuits. You have to guard against it. I think that's what was at the crux of the whole VQR nastiness. I was shocked not that editorial readers would make such meanspirited cracks about submissions (see above theory) but rather that the institution itself -- the people who should have known better, been in a place to be generous -- allowed those comments to be made public. Who knows? Maybe the VQR powers that be were feeling insecure about not getting quite so many National Magazine Awards as last year. Whatever.

Interesting discussion.