Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Gentle Good Riddance to 2009


It's been quite a year...not so good in many ways. On the other hand, I did receive some lessons handed down from the universe.
  1. A stranger found my dad dead in the woods. Lesson: life is unpredictable
  2. My dad cut me out of his will. Lesson: life is humbling
  3. I finished my novel. Lesson: Keep writing, especially when it's hard
  4. No novel of mine got published in 2009, despite this bold statement. Lesson: Never make public predictions
  5. I started a new novel anyway. Lesson: Resilience is a writing tool
  6. Believe it or not, I feel lucky for 1-5  Lesson: Why be an asshole?
As for the decade as a whole, all in all it was pretty good:
  1. In 2000 I won a fiction grant for $25,000.00 that let me quit my job and write my novel, then start a freelance writing business, so I could continue working on other creative writing and finally finish my novel.  Which I did. Eventually.  Lesson:  The universe provides
  2. I moved to a new state and married the love of  my life. Lesson: Only a few lucky s.o.b.'s get to marry for love, so be grateful every minute because life is unpredictable and humbling (see above)
  3. I published several personal essays and short stories, won a few prizes, including one for $15,000.00 and one for $500.00.  Lesson:  Submit, submit, submit...and enjoy when things go well
  4. I finished a new book of stories and a new book of essays.  Lesson: Write, write, write.
  5. I got a lot of therapy and joined a 12-step group to deal with my alcoholic childhood (Funny sentence: I wasn't the alcoholic), also learned to breathe.  Lesson:  There is help if you seek it
  6. I didn't get any of my books published, but I'm not ready to give up.  In fact, perhaps you could say I'm just getting started.  Lesson: What else can I do? Give up?
Here are a few goals for the New Year:
  1. Be grateful for all the people I love and love them better
  2. Be grateful for all the people who love me and accept love better
  3. Ask for help more often and breathe more often
  4. Remember how humbling it is to be human; stay in that place
  5. Have a positive attitude whenever possible
  6. Try to believe in something, anything, even God if that's what it takes
What about you all, mice? What are your goals for 2010?

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Suck Face, Indeed!


While I have only ever tried to get a book or 3 in print, not a word into the lexicon, I thought this was a cute rejection. Click to enlarge and read.  I think I would have rejected "suck face" with this particular definition, too...and I rarely reject anything. Alas.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

It's Book Buyer Eat Book Agent Eat Book Writer World


Blagent Rachelle Gardner offers an interesting industry-wide take on rejection.  Damn, she's got a lot of followers.  I guess we are a desperate sort, we writers.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Nice [B][L]inkage


Here's what I love about the agent/writer Betsey Lerner: She links her excellent blog to LROD; I'm sure she's the only industry person who has done so.  Right on, sister! Way to have a sense of humor! You know I am not a fan of blagent sycophants, and wouldn't want to become one myself, but definitely read Lerner's awesome last post of 2009. (Why can't she be my agent? Just wondering.)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Graceless Form


Leave it to good old Harper's to state the obvious in a way that comforts.  Got to love.

Monday, December 21, 2009

2009: A Year in Rejection?


It's worth paying attention when Wylie-Merrick dole out advice on a blog, isn't it?  Read here and decide for yourself, then come back and discuss: "There’s a saying on the literary street that it’s better to have not published at all than to publish and fail."  Is that true?  I find the whole tone of the W-M blog obnoxious. (Is it just me? Or is it the the evil little blog-writing minions and their attitude?)  By the way, I've been informed that Wylie-Merrick is not the freaky dude with the scary nickname pictured left. That is in fact Andrew Wylie, who is of no relation to Wylie-Merrick Agency. It's confusing.  

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Inappropriate illustrations


Oh, the deep regrets of FSG! Any kid-book author/illustrators out there wish to comment? Is it worse or better than being a rejected writer?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A Sign of the e-Times


In case you have missed the sign posts along the way, here are some clues about the e-future:
Get the picture? No wonder the publishing industry is embattled...poor fat cats are losing money, and while it means authors are also losing money (think of the music industry a few years ago), I have to say I kind of enjoy the way Interweb technology makes profiteers scramble. In the meantime, if you find yourself feeling antsy, you're not alone.  Here's a little primer on e-book rights.  Might as well get familiar now.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tallying, Tallying, Tallying: More Rejections to Come?


So, as per your advice (some of you), I sent out a friendly little email to the agents who have had my novel under consideration since the dawn of time. Here are the results:
  1. Half way through and is "enjoying it," so doesn't want to be counted out.  Apology for lameness of taking 6 months.  (Wonder if halfway means no compelling reason to finish?)
  2. "Wha? Huh? You never sent it to me. I want it. Send it now. I'll read right away."  (Of course, I had sent it at the beginning of September, but who am I to argue?)
  3. Radio silence
Also, re: the agent who liked my writing, but wasn't really into my novel topic, and wanted to see my other work, thinking that I might not oppose piece-meal representation, I sent some samples off.  Immediately got a cheery email with apology that holidays were busy, but the New Year would be the perfect time to read my materials.

So, that's three for four.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Down with 'Delitionism'!


Take a gander at this Guardian article by Keith Kahn-Harris advocating for a return to the old-fashioned rejection letter.  Some day we will grow nostalgic for it, I am told. Don't you love it when some clever bird coins a new rejection phrase? Bravo!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Rejection Self-Amusement: Very Important


Got this beauty in the mailbag yesterday:

Dear W/R:

Thought you, especially, might appreciate the below, which I recently sent out to some friends. I don't mind if you share it.

Cheers,
Chris



---------------------------
Hi folks -
Thought y'all might get a kick out of this. Looking back over the many frustrations in 5 years of submitting multiple novels to multiple agents and publishers, the biggest by far has been those who show interest, request copies of the manuscript and then disappear, never to be heard from again. 


When this happens, about all you can do is continue to e-mail until, at some point, you wear them down and they deign to actually give you an official rejection. Fun, eh?

I confess that, after a year or more of unanswered e-mails from a particular person, I often lost it a bit and grew somewhat sarcastic. Recently, I've begun compiling some of the more entertaining exchanges from these past 5 years. Here's a few e-mails from me to various industry folks who, for whatever reason, proved incapable of sustaining correspondence.

-Chris


---------------------------
Dear [Agent/Editor]
Just checking in once more to see if you've had a chance to take a look at the pages I sent. It is my sincere hope that you are not dead. That may sound overly dramatic, but the fact is that people die every day, and when they do, one of the first things that happens is they stop responding to e-mails.

Best,
Chris
---------------------------
Dear [Agent/Editor]
Checking in once more to see if you've had a chance to review the chapters I sent you.

I must say: the one-sided nature of our correspondence as of late is going to make for some mighty dull reading when they publish the first volume of my "Collected Letters - 1991-2008 - The Struggling Years."

I urge you to write yourself into my saga while there's still time... a simple rejection note will suffice...

A man of your stature deserves more than a footnote. i.e: "requested material in fall of 2007 but correspondence ends here - " etc.

Best,
Chris
---------------------------
Dear [Agent/Editor]
I want you to know that I deeply regret the souring of our relationship, virtual though it may be. I look back wistfully on the early days of our courtship: I wooed you with a query letter; you bantered back coquettishly by requesting some sample chapters... how innocent and untroubled it all seems now.

In retrospect, I can see how that marked the turning point, and it seems to have all gone downhill from there. I understand that every relationship has its summer, its fall, its inevitable wintering. Still, I cannot help but regret having driven you away from me. Was I too needy? Too distant? Did you begin to feel that I never really "saw" you? Did you feel trapped? Or were you afraid that *I* felt trapped?

Alas, winter is upon us, and regret cannot thaw the icicles that surround the heart.

In woe,
Chris
---------------------------
Dear [Agent/Editor]
It's now been six months since you requested my manuscript. Could you at least do me the courtesy of an official rejection? I hate having a "blank" in the manuscript ledger. It's so untidy.

thanks,
Chris
---------------------------
Dear [Agent/Editor] 
I myself have struggled with shyness from time to time over the years, so I don't want you to think me unsympathetic to your problem. Let me assure you that your inability to respond needn't become a debilitating handicap. Let's nip this thing in the bud right now, shall we? If you can muster up an official rejection of the manuscript you requested from me, I give you my word I will not react harshly. I'll be just as nurturing and supportive as can be. I ask you to trust me on this. You're safe here. Let's take this step together.

Sincerely,
Chris
---------------------------
Dear [Agent/Editor]
As spring deepens into summer, my thoughts turn to that most precious of gifts: response. As the skin responds to the sun's rays by reddening, as the rooster answers the dawn with his mighty yawp, as Death answers us all in his own good time, I dream modestly of a response to my own queries.

But at this point I think Death's may precede yours.

Faithfully,
Chris
---------------------------
Hey [Agent/Editor]
Just checking in to see where you're at with [novel]. I'm
35,000 words into the next novel already. Wouldn't that be a hoot if I
finished an entire novel in the time it took you to read 50 pages?

Fair warning: the new one's coming along quickly...

Best,
Chris
---------------------------

Dear [Agent/Editor]
50,000 words and counting...

Best,
Chris
---------------------------
Dear [Agent/Editor]
Thank you for your response. Unfortunately, due to the volume of form letter rejections I receive daily, I am unable to respond personally to each impersonal rejection. Please understand that this does not reflect unfavorably on your impersonal form letter rejection, which is very much appreciated. 

Best of luck,
Chris

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Stories like Jell-O


James Viscosi gets the best rejections, doesn't he?  Seems so unfair, and yet this editor should have worked with him on the story and published it.  Remember when they worked with people?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Manuscript to the Shredder


Here's what it's like to get a rejection in South Africa. Click the image to enlarge and read.  Not very glamorous there either.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Ed Wilson's Preemptive Rejection


Well, I guess if you win the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the National Medal for Literature, the unwashed peeps are going to ask you for things.  The little check mark next to the declined request is what came back from the very, very busy Mr. Wilson.  What would your list of preemptive strikes look like?
    Mine would include:
  • Take out the garbage 
  • Forward stupid emails 
  • Shovel the driveway
  • Appear on T.V. (but only because I'm shy) 
Thanks to The Blog of Tim Ferriss for the original find.

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Success of My Search Went South


I've gotten a few of these over the years.  Plus I've gotten some personalized CBLTD rejections, and a couple of agents who wanted me to do rewrites for them. Those were the old days, baby.  Now, I just sit, wait, and act like I don't even care.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

It's So Bad It's Good, F. Larry


What the hell have I stumbled on here? Someone posting my version of heaven! F. Larry Badgood, indeed! I want to read the 100 pages of bad sex writing and be confused about the "orgy scene."  Is that spaghetti sauce?  Did someone actually go to the trouble of fabricating these rejections, as if he'd found them in the garbage, and then put them up just for our fun and enjoyment? How entirely amusing! Feel free to speculate about the crazed mind of Bo Swiderski, who may not even be a real person. (I'm not even going to wait until tomorrow to post these; enjoy them now.)  Comment away...

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

I Swear I Thought it Said "Olivia B. Bummer"!


Jenny Edwards, Rejection Queen, has posted what would be a pretty damn adorable version of her most recent rejection if you replace the name "Blumer" with the word "Bummer":


Olivia B. Blumer
The Blumer Literary Agency
350 Seventh Avenue
Suite 2003
New York, NY 10001-5013                       (Form rejection)
   
Dear Sir or Madam:
    I am grateful to have had the opportunity to consider your work, and regret having to respond in such an impersonal fashion. The volume of submissions is such that an individual response is no longer possible. I have read the material that you sent and while interesting, it isn't appropriate for my list. My taste is eclectic and I am always seeking some balance in my client list, so my reaction to your work may have as much to with my needs as it does with your talent. While I must delcine to represent you, I do wish you luck elsewhere. Thanks again for the opportunity.
    Sincerely yours,
    The Blumer Literary Agency

Queenie is having a hard time with the holidays, as is everyone with a messed-up family of origin (I include myself in that esteemed club), so go on over to her blog and give her some good cheer and encouragement, please.

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.