1. My writing blog is about transparency + honesty. I post every good rejection, every snarky rejection, every acceptance + whatever else comes to my mind. You don't have to agree with that, but for you to assume I haven't considered the consequences of what I'm doing is slightly insulting + also untrue. That's just how I roll with my blog + many aspiring fiction writers have thanked me for my honesty, so i feel like i'm doing something right.
2. Personally, I'm sick of all the kowtowing that aspiring fictions are expected to do in this industry. We're supposed to shut up + just take it until we're too famous to shut up. But I think we have important things to say BEFORE we ever become famous, which will probably be never anyway. Also, I wasn't writing back to Nat Sobel's assistant to be an asshole, I was just being honest with her + communicating to her how I feel, which honestly, people don't do ENOUGH in this industry for fear of being blacklisted. I was sincerely grateful for all of the time she spent reading my partials, but look, I don't have to agree with her analysis + I don't. I have enough friends who have already made it as literary fiction writers so I'm not being speculative when I say that I have issues with anyone suggesting that Junot Diaz has a limited readership.
3. As for platform, though I don't agree with it, writers of color are given a "writers of color" platform by predominantly white editors. They're usually categorized as an ethnic writer, a black commercial fiction writer, a female Asian-American novelist + that's the market they target. I have nothing to do with that, but the reality is that I have a WAY better chance of selling my shit as an Asian-American writer (which I am, though only hapa) than I do as another male writer. Beyond that, a little context: In one of Nat Sobel's interviews, he argues that not only do non-fiction writers need a platform-- a position that many agents agree with, by the way--but that these days, considering how non-fiction sales have overtaken fiction sales by like a lot, now even FICTION writers need a platform, so that's what I was referring to when I talked about platform. If you read a few more of my entries, you'll see that. Also, I personally think that a fiction writer should be able to write from whatever cultural perspective s/he wants, but I think the market expects platforms: They want Asians to write Asian stories, they want the former heroin addict to write a memoir about being a junkie, not about his love of plants. Don't believe me? Pick up a copy of almost any Asian-American writer + scan their publishing history? How many of them are writing stories about white people? While I may not agree with this, I do acknowledge the market, so I'm simply trying to figure out the best way to place my own writing, nothing more.
4. If an agent was seriously considering me + then s/he dropped me because I had too much attitude, then that agent wasn't the right agent for me, pure + simple. Great agents want great art + someone they can work with. I work so fucking hard on my writing, I'm dedicated + open to editorial suggestions + I don't have unrealistic expectations for what agents/editors do. I feel like you guyz are making a lot of assumptions about me as a writer knowing almost nothing about me + based on an entry or two. You don't fucking know me at all. And also: Your critiques of me almost suggest that the publishing industry is without flaws, but it's totally fucked up. Even my friends that are editors for commercial publishing houses are discouraged. Prominent agents are scared shitless about publishing fiction from debut authors. It's a hostile landscape to art, + yet you're criticizing me for feeling (expressing) that the industry is fucked up + that I have issues with it? That's insane. Dudes, I've interned at a major publishing house, so I know a couple of well-known editors. I have friends who are agents, literary journal stars, total unknown writers with unbelievable talent + everything in between, so I'm not talking from some solipsistic perch here. The industry is in bad shape + it's ripe for critiquing. And if you knew me + if you'd read my blog, you'd know that.
5. For many years, I played the diplomacy game. I took each kind rejection, shut my mouth + hoped that my hard work would be enough, but now I don't want to + that doesn't make me dumb, or arrogant. It makes me human. I simply want to express how I feel + not censor myself just because I think it increases my chances of getting it published--I really don't think it does, by the way. You need talent intersecting with luck intersecting with people with power. There are tens of thousands of aspiring fiction writers who will never be published EVER + it's not because they're not talented enough, it's because some of them give up, some of them lose heart, some of them find other media to publish their voices + only a few actually make it. I'd rather hold on to my stubborn confidence, which has kept me in this game for awhile now, + by the way, has given me some fantastic responses from agents + some decent publications + a lot of hope for the future. If you disagree with my approach, I can respect that, but to call me arrogant, dumb + irritating because I have the gall to simply communicate anything besides "thank you ma'am" to an agent's assistant seems very harsh + judgmental to say the least. Additionally, I'd argue that the reason I'm getting my PhD at USC in Literature + Creative Writing is precisely it's one of the best ways to try + find a job teaching CW + finding patronage for my own art. I'm hardly unrealistic about what it takes to live/breathe as a fiction writer.
Anyway, I thought you were creating a strawman of both me + my writing blog, so I just wanted to present the other side. I hope you'll be open to some of the things I said.
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Count Down 2011
Jackson Bliss, novelist and fellow blogger extraordinaire, offered up some important opines in numerical order on this LROD post; seems fair that I post what he has to say for all to read. Plus, I like what the dude has to say: