Tuesday, December 1, 2009

I Have Found My Virtual Guru


Over at Salon.com's Since You Asked column, Cary Tennis dished out some beautiful advice to a writer whose second novel was rejected after her editor read it and ditched her. Writes the columnist/sage: "The rejection is felt by your true, innocent, unprotected self, the self that requires unconditional love. At this crucial time, you must listen to the wounded innocent and feel that pain and bewilderment. But you must also invoke the powerful, avenging hero. It is not just the innocent that helps us write. It is also the warrior. The innocent creates these lovely things and looks up wide-eyed and says, Look! Isn't it beautiful? The warrior sharpens her arrows deep into the night, checks her armor, practices the kill shot, surveys the opposition, steels herself against fear. The innocent needs the warrior. Beauty and strength: One without the other is not enough. The empty warrior is like the blinded one-eyed Cyclops, flailing madly in the cave. The unworldly artist is like an infant left in the forest to be eaten. As artists, we need both the innocent and the warrior." It seriously brought a tear to my eye to feel so understood. Take a click on over to read the whole column: heart-wrenching letter and beautiful response. You won't be sorry.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

nice post ruined by a yeckky image. i don't like monkeys!

i'm glad you found comfort in the advice. btw, did you pen that letter? i realize you could have changed some details to obscure your ID.

Anonymous said...

Wow, that IS nice. Alter a few details and I could have written that letter myself. What got me through: writing is NOT publication. Writing is the important thing, and pleasing yourself -- satisfying that creative need. Publication is nice, but it's not the be all. You have no control over publishers, so ya have to let it go...

gimme said...

"Writing is the important thing, and pleasing yourself -- satisfying that creative need. Publication is nice, but it's not the be all."

Um... yeah, right.

This "I write for me" crap - I don't buy it. For diary-keepers, sure. But anyone who goes through the agony and effort of writing a novel - no way are they going to be satisfied unless the freakin' thing gets published. That's the whole point for crying out loud...

Books are written to be READ.

Otherwise, we're just jerking off here.

To hell with being meek... GIMME.

Anonymous said...

I agree with GIMME. How many people write novels just for the fun of it and never submit them or dream of submitting them. You know, just write it and forget it. I'm guessing...none. Certainly no one would edit and polish it to death just for the fun of it.

A true artist has something to say, whether it is through words, pictures, paintings, whatever. The artist seeks either to tell the reader/viewer soemthing or, even better, to open a conversation with him. It can be to entertain or provoke or inspire or question. But this I'm writing for myself business always strikes me as (1) a lie and (2) sophomoric.

Anonymous said...

Hey, it's me again, the pollyanna with the "write for myself" stuff. Guess what? I sell my work. I've actually earned serious cash for it. My please-yourself thing isn't just a feel-good philosophy; it's a working method.

I think if you're a journalist or a non-fiction writer working on a contract, you can focus on pleasing your audience. But fiction is a whole other ball o' wax. It has to be a labor of love. That's the only way to weather the inevitable rejections that come between the writing and the publishing.

Moreover: It's ironic, but spending your writing time being absolutely self-absorbed, catering to your weirdest, deepest needs, is the only way to actually come up with a piece of fiction that resonates with other people.

gimme said...

"Guess what? I sell my work. "

Not surprising. It's always the people who are already published who come out with that "publishing isn't everything" line...

Kind of a variation on rich people saying "money isn't everything." You never hear anyone spouting that nonsense when they're broke...:)

Next said...

Anon@ 10:09am. I am on principle skeptical of anyone who would call fiction a "ball of wax" and then in the same paragraph introduce a weather metaphor. You may sell your work, but it may also be self-help crap, or, most likely, romance that only reads well after a couple of glasses of white wine, by candlelight. So, thanks, but no thanks. I don't buy it. Literally and metaphorically.

Steve said...

When you're writing a novel you live with that book--day in, day out. It is the literal transformation of your time, intelligence, passion, etc, into a work of art. Into something that without you could never have existed. To reduce the value of that process, and therefore the value of one's life as an artist, to whether or not the book gets published? Silliness. The point is to answer the call. To put those sentences together and make the dream happen on the page. To write something that's so f-ing true it breaks your heart. Then. Then you might actually have something that a few people might care about enough to read (while everyone else is out watching New Moon).

Next said...

W, R, How come my comment didn't make it over the wall?

Writer, Rejected said...

Next...I got behind on the blog comments, but you do bring up a good point. Keep the almost-insults and near-namecalling down to a low roar, will you?

gimme said...

"To reduce the value of that process, and therefore the value of one's life as an artist, to whether or not the book gets published? Silliness."

I totally agree that it feels frustrating and degrading and... silly, that, after all that work and effort and personal struggle, the ultimate value of the whole enterprise could be defined by whether some jerk in New York who you've never met decides to publish the thing or not...

And yet, them are the facts of life. Depressing but true.

Anonymous said...

and thus a blog like this!

Anonymous said...

Steve but you still seem to care if you have something people want to read.

And unless you're talking about your mother, I assume you mean via publishing.

Anonymous said...

Steve but you still seem to care if you have something people want to read.

And unless you're talking about your mother, I assume you mean via publishing.

Steve said...

There's nothing wrong with wanting readers. That's just not the only value.