Friday, January 08, 2010

Irked - A New Rant for the New Year

2+ years of fiction writing courses

10 + years writing / studying and learning craft

5 + years studying the publishing industry, learning how to write query / dreaded synopsis, and untold hours of studying agents / editors / houses, etc. etc. etc.

2 finished novels (one sucked so bad we’ll just call it education by stupidity and one hasn’t found an agent at this point, but still - lots of work)

3 + partially written novels, attempted and discarded between sucky book number 1 and completed book number 2

1 – Work In Progress, which has been written, completely scrapped, and started over from scratch

Untold number of online writing exercises, fiction writing classes, editing classes, and critique circles for to slash me to pieces and make me improve.

Untold number of bright and shiny ideas that have been partially plotted, character sketches, and miscellaneous files of work that may or may not be worth salvaging at some point in life.

Untold number of short story and flash fiction pieces, which I know is really not my forte but I have steadily been trying to get a handle on anyway because I feel that it will tighten my writing and improve my craft.

Rejections – don’t even get me started.

I should probably include reading on this list, but I almost feel bad including it because I’d be doing it whether or not I ever wanted to write... I love it... but then, I also love writing and I’ve included an awful lot of that on this list. I’d have to say about 30 years... but only about 20 of those since deciding I might like to write, and really 5 where I’ve been reading with a writer’s eye.

So there, as it stands to date, is my Fiction Writing Resume. It goes without saying that most of this has been squeezed in every crevice of time that wasn’t used for running my household, raising my children, volunteering my time, and producing the freelance writing that actually comes with a paycheck.

I know non-writers don’t really understand this whole thing. They don’t get that I’ve put in this time to improve and learn because I love this, without a paycheck, without any guarantee, without knowing for sure whether I’ll wind up at the end of years and years of hard work with nothing but failure to show for it. Hell, I’m doing it and sometimes I don’t fucking get it.

And, when you get down to it, I suppose I shouldn’t really care or bother with what anyone else thinks. But sometimes it takes a toll - all the people who’ve written me off as either lazy or stupid for not having a ‘real’ job. Every once in a while that gets really irritating. So, for the record:

I am not sitting around ‘playing’ on the computer.

I am not working for no pay because I’m incompetent.

Asking when I’m going to get a real job outside the house and pointing out that my children are old enough is not helpful. (Youngest is 7 – I don’t know what kennel raised you but I’m fairly sure my kids still need childcare of some sort)

This is not a hobby and even if it was, mine would be more productive than sitting at the bar, bowling for doughnuts, watching the ballgame, vegging in front of the TV, gambling the mortgage money, knitting, bingo, or Parcheesi... and far less expensive if you don’t count the ink cartridges.

Okay, fine, knitting might be more productive... I can’t make one myself, but I do enjoy a nice sweater.

Placating smiles and rolling your eyes behind my back are not appreciated (and yes, I can see you – pay attention to where the bar mirrors are, genius).

And for anyone guilty of any of the above mentioned behaviors, let this serve as notice: When my first novel hits the shelves, you are not allowed to say any variation of, “I knew you could do it,” or I will be forced to bitch slap you with said book - and you better hope to God it's not hardcover.

Okay, I’m done. Carry on.


Mary Witzl said...

They've been wearing away at you too, have they? It's a long, hard journey, that's for sure. I don't think I could count the number of times I've had to grin and bear it.

I've missed your writing!

Merry Monteleone said...

Hi Mary!

That which doesn't kill you makes you stronger... which means all the people trying to kill me really should practice ducking and weaving :-)

I almost didn't post this one, but I needed to vent, and honestly, none of the people I was thinking of would ever bother to read my blog.

I've missed your writing, too. But I'm trying to get back to a more regular blog routine this year, so I'll be by.

jjdebenedictis said...

[L]et this serve as notice: When my first novel hits the shelves, you are not allowed to say any variation of, “I knew you could do it,” or I will be forced to bitch slap you with said book - and you better hope to God it's not hardcover.

One moment please. Cackling too hard to type.

Okay, I'm better now. You tell 'em, girl! High five!

Natasha Fondren said...

Hah! I do hope it's a hardcover! Well, if it pays you more, that is.

They're idiots.

Now that I am "only" a writer, it's difficult when I try to say I've written two essays. If pressed, I end up telling them that I've written 20 novel/las and 50ish short stories under a pseudonym, just because otherwise they give you a look like, "What have you been DOING all day?!" But then they want to know pseudonym, and it's like they won't take no for an answer. It's so annoying. I tell them I'm too much of a prude, I joke and hint and tell them it's too kinky to share, and yet still they press.

So then next time, I try not to tell them about pseudonym, and I get the look again. The circle begins anew. *sigh*

I don't mind so much being seen as a prude, but being seen as lazy makes me crazy.

Merry Monteleone said...

High five, JJ! See, I knew my writing friends would get it.

Hi Natasha,

I actually try to avoid mentioning that I'm a writer, but there are enough people who know that it winds up coming up here and there anyway. I have been paid for web content and business writing, but then that's not under my byline. I do have a few articles with my byline, but then, that's not fiction... and once I get a short story accepted, well, then that won't be a novel... I think there's just a certain set of people who WANT to make you feel small.

And yeah, thinking I'm lazy or stupid, oh that irritates me so much...

You never have to reveal a pseudonymn to me - but I would love to buy some of your work, so let me know if you ever have any you'd like to promote.

Gary Corby said...

Why wait for the hardback? Bitch slap them now.

100% of people who succeeded, never gave up. 100% of people who gave up, never succeeded.

Hang in there, Merry.

Merry Monteleone said...

Why wait for the hardback? Bitch slap them now.

Reason #4,590 why you totally rock, Gary... that and the advice was pretty good, too. Thank you.

Shelly said...

Keep at it, Merry, and I believe that hardback will be on my shelf before long.

When my first poetry collection finally came out (Oct), a friend was very supportive, and told me she thought I'd be "famous" now. I asked her if she could name even one living poet, and she said no, but she thought it would be alright if I was famous when I was dead too.

I think it's just hard for non-writers to understand the whole writing thing. Even those who ARE supportive might have a hard time expressing their support the way they want to. And the supportive ones are obviously the minority, most of the time.

(Though I have to admit that I've actually been pretty lucky there.)

Merry Monteleone said...

Hi Shelly!

How are you? I just stopped at your site and oh my goodness, you had an amazing 2009!!! Congratulations, I'm so proud of you!

I have another writing friend who released her first poetry book last summer and is working on a second book. Do you think it would be okay to get her in touch with you? I think you two might really hit it off and I always felt a little out of my depth critting poetry, though I love to read it.

Ello said...

Hey Merry - Well I should have shot you an email but I'll post it here cause it is so relevant. My agent and I have parted ways. Sigh. After a year I'm back at square one.

I'll rant with you.

It's late and I'm tired so I'll send you an email tomorrow but know that I feel your pain.

but still - I wish you and I both a happy new year as we are truly deserving of one!

Merry Monteleone said...


I am so unbelievably sorry. I know how frustrated you must be - sometimes it just seems like two steps forward and three steps back.

But you are not back at square one. I have been reading your work through quite a few revisions and let me tell you, you are brilliant. I loved your original, but the depth and amazing emotion you managed to infuse your story with in each subsequent revision absolutely floored me. You are an amazing writing and you're only getting better as you go. It's not square one, El, and you're going to get there.

Definitely send me an email, and if you need anything, I'm here.

Gary Corby said...

Hey Ello,

Sorry to hear that. What a rotten way to start the year.


Ello said...

Thanks Merry, and Thanks Gary!

Honestly, I look at it as a new opportunity. It wasn't a good fit and I knew I was fooling myself all year long trying to make the relationship work. It's for the better. But this business always feels like you're swimming upstream.

sex scenes at starbucks said...

I just got the "oh you wrote a sell-out book" comment.


Which means what, exactly? That I should starve for my art? You know, been there, done that. It's not as romantic as it sounds.

Oh, you mean cuz it has SEX in it? OH. Oh yeah. Well, being that romance has long held a huge percentage of the fiction marketplace, then, okay, I sold out.


Ditto what Merry said, Natasha!

sex scenes at starbucks said...

You go, Ello! I've only heard fabulous things about your writing, so I know it'll work out for you.

Merry Monteleone said...

Hi Betsy,

I'm still trying to pick my jaw up from the 'sell out' comment. I just can't wrap my head around why someone would say that - trying to be funny? (if they're daft)... just a complete idiot, or jealous, maybe.

I don't really know what it is about writing in general that makes people feel like they have a right to make you feel small. No one does that to accountants - or maybe they do... maybe the fortune 500 company accountants all stand around making fun of the guys who work out of a small storefront office in podunk.

I don't know what it is, Betsy, but as far as I'm concerned, there is no selling out. You either want to write professionally or you don't. It's the writer's choice what they want to write, and for whom.

Colleen_Katana said...

Btw, I would love to see you bitch slap someone with your published book.

Please invite me to that!! =0)

Merry Monteleone said...

You have a standing invitation, Colleen, most definitely :-)