Shithouse rat

I'm a bipolar writer in the Naked City. I'm not playing with a full deck. I don't have all my dots on the dice. My cheese is sliding off my cracker. I don't have both oars in the water. I'm a bubble off plum. In other words, I'm crazier than a shithouse rat. These are my stories. Comments--short or long, nasty or nice--always welcome!

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Publish or perish, Part 1


Mailboxes 2
Originally uploaded by darko138.
EVERY WRITER'S NIGHTMARE
Ah, yes, the empty mailbox...the bane of every aspiring writer; as dreaded as the legendary writer's block.

For an unpublished author, even finding yet another rejection letter in your mailbox in response to yet another of your precious "babies"--your beloved manuscripts or proposals--being launched into the cruel world to test their wings would at least be proof that you indeed exist. The rejection letter (and there are varying degrees thereof, some better than others) signfies that you ARE a writer, that your words are being received and responded to by another entity, instead of existing in a limbo-like void! But sadder still is the mailbox filled only with bills and junk mail because the would-be writer has never sent a single query or manuscript to an editor for consideration in the first place.

When I was first trying to get my work published, I experienced a daily mailbox angst. Back then, e-mailing back and forth to editors was not an option, at least not for me. I had an old battleaxe of a p.c., but no connection to the internet, which had not yet reached the user-ubiquitousness it has achieved today. So it was the old snail mail agony--and snail mail from editors could often mean weeks, if not months, of waiting for a reply.

As a newbie, I struggled mostly on my own. Since I wrote propaganda for a living for a major NYC university, I knew how to write. I could craft the blab-vertising for the Man, all right--you'd be surprised at just how many different ways there are to say something is wonderful, marvelous, flawless, and the best in the land--but for many years never really dreamed of writing freelance, for newspapers, with a byline.

A GLIMMER OF HOPE
About 18 years ago, I had my first hypomanic attack, and it was a doozy. I started hatching multiple schemes--get married and have a huge reception, teach an editing class, go for a second master's (or a second and third simulaneously), convince my Luddite boss to explore computer applications for our office as of yesterday, and on and on. But of all the ideas that popped into my fevered noggin at the time, the one that bore the most delicious fruit was my decision to take a journalism course through the university I worked for.

Although I had received an MA in English through this same university (tuition free, since I was also an employee), this particular course did more to help me understand newspaper and magazine publishhing than any class I'd ever taken before.

The prof was a great, affable guy with a lot of publishing creds under his belt. He had a bulletin board called the Wailing Wall where he posted rejection letters--including his own. He started the first class with a quote from, I believe, Samuel Johnson, who supposedly said something to the effect of "Anyone who writes without getting paid to do so is a fool."

We were taught how to research a publication we were interested in by requesting a media kit (meant for potential advertisers) which would give us inside info about the pub's demographics, philosophy, and other nuggets of wisdom so that we could determine if our piece or idea would be a good "fit" for that particular pub. This was crucial, since one of most newbies' biggest mistakes is submitting a piece or idea to an inappropriate market, wasting their precious time as well as the editor's.

I learned that for nonfiction work submitted to newspapers and mags, the professional writer will often submit a query letter rather than the entire manuscript. This letter gives the editor a little tease--telling them what the author has in mind in brief and an idea of their style, as well as the author's qualifications for writing the story, their previous publishing experience, if any, and other info. From there--especially if one has compsed a killer query--one may get an invitation from the editor to submit the proposed piece for publication.

The prof granted an automatic A to anyone who could get an acceptance from a paying market. I submitted three queries. One of these was to the late, great Spy Magazine. I received a personal reply--not a form rejection letter--that said something kind about my submission, but regretted that they could not use it. I can't remember anything about the second. With my third query, I got a much more favorable response. The letter, sent to an editor at the Village Voice, was a proposal for a humorous piece about a "lingerie party" I had inadvertently attended at my now ex- boyfriend's sister's house on Long Island. This is very similar to a Tupperware party, except that the hostess hawks cheezy underthings with names like "Kiss Me," "Thrill Me," and "Take Me," rather than the microwaveable two-quart container or the jumbo multi-piece all-purpose food storage system.

Since my query gave an example of my style and humorous take on the proposed story, the Voice editor wrote back and said that although this topic had been done to death and she could not run with it, she really liked my style and would welcome further ideas from me.

This could have been my entree into writing for a major NYC alternative paper (which would, no doubt, pay me something for my efforts and give me that much-coveted byline every writer craves.) But shortly thereafter, I descended into a deep depression and my rejection/acceptance letter was filed away.

ANOTHER GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY
Years later, most probably in another hypomanic state, I decided to resume my writing in earnest. I managed to get a short piece run in the "Metropolitan Diary" section of the NY Times, as well as winning a New York Press Best of NY reader's essay contest and getting a piece run there too. I did not receive payment for either of these pieces, but I was thrilled nonetheless. I had my first published "clips"--and they were good. They would serve me well when I submitted other proposals or pieces to editors to demonstrate I knew how to do it up right.

Then followed a long struggle to get more pieces in print. I read all the books I could find, and kept sending out queries. For some, I received personal responses, but nothing seemed to click. Then I heard of a continuing ed course taught bySusan Shapiro,a terrific writing teacher who was also a prolific freelancer with many NYC pub credits to her name.

I took several courses with Susan, and they were indeed the beginning of a very successful freelance run. For one of her courses, she invited a new editor from a pub each week, who gave us the inside scoop on what they were looking for, and how to approach the pub with queries and manuscripts. Sue urged us to send a follow-up thank you note to editors we were interested in writing for, and also enclose any clips we had, a formal query, and maybe a new writing sample.

I did this for two editors from major NYC mags, and established a long fruitful freelance relationship with both. I had over 90 pieces publlshed in about 18 months for these two papers and another local rag that let me write on just about any idea I could come up with. I did music and book reviews and features, as well as a few humorous essays. I had arrived--a real published writer at last, paid for her efforts!

I finally abandoned the freelance gig in exhaustion, since I was also still doing my 9 to 5 writing gig as well, and it became too much. However, I recently started this blog so I could write about anything that came into my hypomanic little mind, without an editor or client looking over my shoulder and advising me on style, length, tone, subject matter, or intended audience.

THE FELLOWSHIP AND CAMRADERIE OF THE E-WRITERS GROUPS--NOT!
Months before starting this blog--way before it ever occurred to me to do so--I joined a number of on-line writer's groups. There are a bewildering array to choose from, but I chose one nationwide group with a lot of members, and two of the more popular NYC-based ones, to start.

I soon found myself going through deja-vu from the moment I opened my in-box each day. There were many newbies who were suffering the same struggles and frustrations I had when I started out. But the difference was, perhaps, that I learned a lot of things on my own, the hard way--through experiencing and dealing with rejection, and having the guts to send my work or ideas out into the cruel world after editing and re-editing it to "perfection." I had never been a joiner, so instead of enlisting the help of support groups, I took courses with published authors and voraciously read how-to-get-published books. I learned a lot that way. And now that I had the internet, I discovered and bookmarked myriad writer's sites, e-pubs, and other invaluable resources that would have helped me immensely back in the day.

But with several of the e-groups I joined, many newbie members didn't seem as resourceful. A few had no chance, since thier sample short work or poem was filled with egregious typos, just to start. Others were so green that they worried about attaching the copyright notice to their work (completely unnecessary) lest someone steal their totally original and brilliant ideas. Some had finished, or were working on their first novel, but had no publishing experience, since they had never tested the waters by sending out a short story or article query to a real live editor. One poor gentleman had about 10 or 15 book manuscripts under his belt, but had so far, after many, many years, still not succeeded in getting an agent to acquire even one. His theory was that in the present book publishing environment, only celebs could hope to get a book deal.

Others would write in, plaintively asking for help in locating an agent for their book. Though I was not in the market for a book deal myself, a brief websearch and link-crawl led me to this essential info: never pay an agent anything for reading your manuscript. No reputable agents will charge any up front fees. There are a lot of dubious agencies out there just looking to steal a starry-eyed newbies dollars, so an agent should at the very least be a member of the Association of Author's Representatives. This was aside from the fact that a good agent was probably swamped with acquired author's works and other desperate requests for representation, so it would be tough going for a newbie to get an audience with the good ones. However, there were ways to get a foot in the door by attending writer's conferences where agents and publishers might attend, and researching which agent or publishing house a favorite author in a similar genre to your own had signed with.

But my newbie group members apparently never utilized the wealth of info literally at their fingertips. Instead, it was a sad case of the blind leading the blind, as they asked mostly unqualified members to assist them.

In fact, one of the most valuable tips I received from one of my "how to get published" books was this: Never show a story to a friend. If you show a story to friends, family members, etc. each will say it's great, but maybe change the ending, the beginning, blah blah blah. This tends to lead to head-splitting migraines and perhaps even, in some cases, chucking the thing into the bottom of a drawer and going back to pursuits offering more immediate gratification, like doing the Times Crossword or writing letters to the editor.

To me, submitting work to other newbies seemed like this sort of risky endeavor. But I needn't have worried--there was little in the way of constuctive crit to be found here. I had the feeling that many simply pushed the delete button as soon as they saw a message entitled: "new poem" or "my story." And after all, people were trying to get their own stuff read--why waste time reading other's efforts?

So a few members would post their stories daily, or even several times daily, hoping for a little instant gratification. One poor man had gathered his numerous stories into a large number of e-books, and had them with a POD (print on demand) e-publishing house/website. Many of these services involve submitting your manuscript, which will be accepted without reservation by the company, as long as you pay the fee for them to set it up.

The writer's books were definitely G-rated, and he "warned" his potential readers of this. However, when you clicked on the main site, the first thing you encountered was a book the POD site was apparently pushing hard--namely, a new translation of Mein Kampf.

When you did get into the author's little page, the books were all listed there. However, neither the publisher nor the author had made the vaguest attempt to interest the potential buyer in the works. There was virtually no description of what was in store, other than a few short sentences about the whole series. No sample chapters to draw the reader in and give them a reason for buying. No marketing/distribution plan to get the word out there. As a result, the poor guy had sold not a one.

So instead, he started virtually daily postings of his funny little stories to our group. They were a little corny, but I and others wrote in response to some of the stories. People genuinely thought they were delightfull and funny. But this group was the only forum where he could find any recognition for his efforts. I guess that's something.

THE SAGA OF DONUT GUY
Another group member posted chapters from his novel in progress regularly. I sometimes replied with encouraging comments, since I liked his style. But I didn't see much in the way of feedback from others, and even this writer never wrote as much as a thank you for my positive feedback. He also was rather pompous and full of himself, and would post recommended "reading lists" (usually some World War II related books that looked way boring). He also sent missives about his journey of self-discovery: how his characters and the plot came together in unexpected ways, etc. But after awhile, these constant self-centered messages became grating, esp. since virtually no one responded to them but me, on occasion.

There was one memorable message from this man, entitled "Craftsmanship." In it, he started with the premise that when we take our car in to be repaired, we expect them to do a good job for the money we pay them. Similarly, when he wrote--even just informally, as when dashing off an e-mail--he always strove to make it the best gosh darn note he could muster.

Then the analogy took an alarming turn. This forty-something writer started to describe his job, which he said generated a lot of money--for his employer, since he had to do the work of four people. Turns out his day gig was working the donut assembly line at the local Wal Mart, where he took extraordinary pride in his work.

Unlike donuts from other stores, he always made the extra effort to make sure his were of uniform size and shape, and generally prepared with loving care. When visiting other donut places, he was disgusted with the lack of attention being paid to quality standards. He asserted that certainly, these donuts might taste good, but because of the slipshod way in which they were made, they would never pass his lips.

I felt sorry for this obviously literate man, with his dreams of instant fame and fortune from his novel-in-progress, who spent his days trying to maintain some little shred of self-esteem while working the Walmart donut line. I'm sure it was an honest living, but somehow I wouldn't be advertising it if I were him. In any case, it made me feel even more sorry for him, alone at his computer, madly posting his chapters and random thoughts not just to our group, but to a bunch of other groups simultaneously. Again, where was the effort to put a toe in the big scary waters of the real world--to send a short work (I knew he'd e-published a little poetry) to a real live editor and see how they responded?

ATTENTION ASPIRING NOVELISTS AND WRITERS: For an inside look/reality check on how a typical editor views some unsolicited submissions, check out I Do not have Time to Read this Crap at PCQuill. Then, for uplifting inspiration, go onward to Rejection Letters (A Must Read) at the same excellent site.



END OF PART 1

IN PART 2: A GRIPPING SAGA WHICH WILL BLOW THE LID OFF THE SECRET, PASSIVE AGGRESSIVE, CUT THROAT POWER PLAYS TAKING PLACE AS WE SPEAK IN EVERY "PRIM AND PROPER" WRITER'S E-GROUP!

PLUS, A SCATHING INDICTMENT OF MY ASSHOLE-ISH BEHAVIOR WHILST PERCHED ON MY HYPOMANIC HIGH HORSE!!

16 Comments:

At 11:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Blackie,

Yes, giving away trade secrets in hopes of valid returns, (biggest bang for your buck) ... through
the maze of experience, luck, and right contact, to give you decent advice, can give the results you want-a book deal! Many fall by the wayside, I'm sure. It must be hard to share your idea(s) w/o "giving away the farm". Hope a book deal can buy one a "farm" they want-probably not.

Guess the Donut Man was too puffed up like a doughnut to ever see any
other advice but his own. And, the
Craftsman never wanted a 2nd place
finish. That's O.K. at the worker-bee level, but bad when trying to coach, or manage others. Sports stars never turn out to be good at teaching others. Same for bosses who only remember their younger days with the "winning touch" on everything they tried. They became the firm's "super-stars" and soon were promoted to the top. The only problem is, no one could ever live up to their expectations. It's hard, I'm sure, to hit a "homerun" with every manuscript, everytime. Being "second to none" means you
never accept anything but the very best. However, "third to none" is
O.K. too. At least you are 2nd best. Nothing wrong sometimes in getting a 2nd place ribbon. I like Miller beer, and it's 2nd in the market share behind Bud-so what!

You guys read these writers' doc's and then "play up" the words to sell an idea. Maybe you are like a grand-jury looking at the evidence to determine if there is "grit" to the matter. If not, start over or throw out. If so, move on ... and publish it! Wow, I have trouble seeing "grit" in my own work, much less someone else's stuff. Dipping one's toe in the scary waters must be very frightening, and more so to those who must look at the toe.

BLLB

 
At 7:04 AM, Blogger elvira black said...

Hey BLLB:

Welp, in this particular writer's group, there were definitely a "cast of characters"--and since I am quite a character, I think I made the manic mistake of being a bit of a "know it all." I did find other groups that were more professionally oriented than the one I mentioned, however.

But from the beginning, I felt like I was wasting my time and that my answers to questions or issues brought up were often left "blowing in the wind." Maybe I was just blowing a lot of hot air around.

But one of the first times I really felt let down was in one of the groups that was based in NYC. Someone wrote in saying they were planning to move to NYC from Florida, and asked the group if we knew of any "cheap, safe" areas/apartments. I almost laughed my butt off at that one!

Nevertheless, I, and others, wrote in with all sorts of helpful advice--try Queens, try the Bronx, etc. We told him what local papers' classifieds to look at (they all have listings in their on-line editions, which makes it super simple.) I believe that one person even offered up their phone number. I chimed in about BG's Bronx neighborhood, and how the rents were about one half to one third of those found in Manhattan. Others who lived in the area agreed, but there was one rather strident man who said he'd lived in the Bronx (I guess he finally escaped) for 20 years or something, and claimed that the place was a hell hole, with no redeeming features. There was a bit of a fracas about that, as we debated back and forth about how neighborhoods change (as I noted in "The Crackhead Next Door.")

Finally the moderator stepped in and said it was a very interesting discussion, but since it was off topic it was time to get off it already.

The reason I became so miffed is because we never again, as far as I know, heard back from the person who originally had inquired about the "cheap, safe" areas of NYC. After all our efforts--including getting into a little rumble about the Bronx--nada. Not a simple thank you, which I think would have been appropriate.

For this and a few other groups, members sometimes seemed to use this as a forum for "telling a story to a 'friend." In my book, the only "friend" that counted was a real live editor who had the power to publish or give you an idea, via a rejection letter, if you might need to adjust your focus or take a good long look at your writing and see if it was even readable, first of all. Though on the other hand, a rejection from one pub was not cause for suicide by any means. Often it was just not the right "fit" for the pub--which is why the original course I took, described in this piece, was so valuable to me.

And second of all, most people didn't seem to receive much feedback from the group when they posted a piece or poem anyway. So what was the point?

In any case, I will, as I said, tie myself to the whipping post in Part 2 and confess my culpability as a "helpful" pain in the butt in the groups.

 
At 2:53 PM, Anonymous Amy said...

Hey there,

I can relate! I check the mail each day hoping for word on a submission. Any word will do. The waiting is agonizing, discouraging. But I keep tapping away at the keys , churning out more pieces to submit in the hopes that someone in the big, scary but tempting world of publishing will notice my work and love it.

Amy

 
At 3:22 AM, Blogger elvira black said...

Amy:

Oh, yeah. I used to pretty much know from the weight of the envolope what the deal was. If it was thick, it usually meant they'd returned my work to me and the answer was "thanks, but no thanks." (Never once, alas, did a bulky envelope turn out to be a big publishing contract offering me a huge advance to send them more priceless work...). But sometimes, despite the fact that I was so eager to receive word from editors, I would actually put the letter aside, unopened, for a day or two. This way, for a little while at least, I could hang on to the hope that it might be good news.

But yeah--the only thing to do is keep on churning them out til you wear them down!

 
At 2:22 AM, Blogger rob said...

Bang those keys, baby.
Let those ideas
that fill you till
the bursting point,
sip out.
ALL of it out,
may you find publishing
is the least of your worries

 
At 3:48 AM, Blogger rob said...

You kinda make me feel sorry for the poor writer waiting for the mail to bring a rejection slip, a harsh and destructive criticism and just for it to be considered, the expectation that said writer change and distort the creation ‘till it’s just a shadow of what it was intended to be, or (finally), an offer. Like the family of the victim of a catastrophe, this writer hopes for some kind of closure.
–>The rejection letter (and there are varying degrees thereof, some better than others) signfies that you ARE a writer, that your words are being received and responded to by another entity, instead of existing in a limbo-like void! <–
Here, I have to disagree a little. The rejection letter does NOT mean you are a writer. The fact that you stopped from your routine and took time to put down your ideas on ANY media, means you are a writer. Unpublished, un-recognized, un-read, and so many other uns I can’t remember now make one no less of a writer, just un. I’ve been a writer since my early teens, never published, read by the few, a poet, read to a small smoke-filled-café crowd in 1988 and still smaller college-captive audience in 2001, yet poet. As far as another entity ever seeing my work (may want to read my last blog “Just Say Something”) it is irrelevant. The way I see it, I write because I have to, to get it out is my concern, what happens with it is anybody’s guess. The thoughts I wrote on the back of the envelope while I was on the bus going home, has gone where poems go to die when lost. That was its destiny totally out of my control. Another of my writings just got to you, and I’m glad it did. Bonus!! Someone else read it, double bonus. A writer or any other artist, master of trade, simple human being do what we do and not otherwise because it is inherent in our nature. We write because we must. Without regard of reward a painter paints because he must, a shoemaker makes the best of his best for his life depends on it. a performer tries to show us what they see, feel, perceive. Being alive in this world is a gift, no matter how tough it gets, the periods of darkness are punctuated by flashes of light. We live for these but must bear with those. Now, I could be perceived as a washout writer, even a loser (no publishing, no by-lines, no books), so why even bother to write? I think I’ve already said why...btw, I also have to 5#*t. It’s a natural function. I read of your struggle and I empathize with you, Elvira, but that only emphasizes the fact of how different we all are, how our interests and expectations run parallel, converge, cross and diverge. Now, we get to the juicy part so to speak, the writers groups. Hmmmm, we have all types of people flocking to the writers groups, attracting all kinds of nuts. Many, I find, are there for the ego trip, barely checking others, screaming “read me” (should read as in the “Little shop of horrors” ‘feed me’). Some few are genuinely interested in the human contact, even of the cyber kind. I’ve had some experience with writers groups, some were good, many blah, but I see it as a step forward toward where we are going. Now, don’t ask me where that is, I don’t know. I do know that it is an important step toward our future. You have appeared to me as an angel of mercy, the information desk person who actually knows some of the information needed, this is a blessing. I guess I’ll leave the rest of this for your chilling saga of the writers group. Meanwhile you’ll find me sitting by my virtual blog-mail box, waiting for a second comment on one of my blogs...NOT!
Be well, rob.

 
At 10:55 AM, Blogger elvira black said...

Rob:

Wow! What a great comment. I certainly consider this as a really great piece of writing in and of itself. All your comments are eloquent and poetic. I have been somewhat remiss in my periodic pilgrimage to visit my fave fellow bloggers, but I will indeed visit very soon and pay my respects. I can't tell you how much your beautiful words mean to me.

Yes, it is true that writers are compelled to write, painters to paint, etc. BG, for example, has been making art since he was a kid, but he really doesn't concern himself much with what the outer world thinks of his paintings. It was I who felt a need to project my goals and fantasies onto him and attempt to get him into art shows, which he loathed.

My argument to him was that since he did have this talent, it was a shame not to share it with others. Call it ego or what you will, but ideally an artist will hopefully be able to one day share his art with others for all to enjoy. Some, like Van Gogh, are not recognized until they are physically gone, but their art transcends all time and continues to bring successive generations inspiration and joy.

Unfortunately, all the arts are highly competitive and can be difficult to break into, and often a great deal of dues have to be paid to become known. Those who are true artists pursue their drive because they have to, whether or not they ever become known for it. Those who are only looking for instant fame and fortune generally fall by the wayside very quickly.

When I said the rejection letter signals that you are a writer, I meant it partly in a self-mocking way. Most writers are not secure enough in their own abilities and talents to believe in themselves unless they receive some outside confirmation. But that does not by any means indicate that their work is not inherently valuable.

Once again, Rob, thank you so much for all your wonderful comments. You are definitely a writer who has much to share with others, and your poetry, prose, and insights have already brought me great joy.

 
At 4:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Blackie,

Yes, Rob's words do seem to soothe the soul. He sees the underlying agony of holding on to hope for the ever-loving publishers' reply.

I guess awaiting one's fate with would-be publishers can be like awaiting death. If rejected, most would want it quick and painless. No one wants to wait endlessly for a reply. Especially if it has a "NO" attached.

Nameless, faceless, spineless,... is one way to describe those who have power over your written thoughts. They would reject MY GREAT WORK! HOW DARE THEY! THOSE FOOLS!

Anything forwarded out of here, (my little Dilbert-World), is then subjected to the "thumbs up", or
the "thumbs down" posting by the "three-piece suit folks" for limitless joy through approval, or
utter distain for rejection. I too,
look for a quick response, either a "yes" or a "no". It NEVER, NEVER happens quickly.

Only the wait is worse than even final rejection. If I could skip that part, I could endure even the most severe rebuke from anyone with the "golden-mahogony row" group.

I just hate those who always seem to have all the answers. And, always tell you that your answer to their questions are mostly WRONG!. What do they know?

BLLB

 
At 10:00 AM, Blogger elvira black said...

BLLB:

I've read somewhere that basically mankind is hard-wired in thier quest for elevated status. To be humiliated or embarassed--to have one's status decimated--is like a social death.

Though one has to keep the reader and editor in mind when sending out one's best work, in order to handle rejection a writer must develop, as they say, a thick skin. To allow faceless "others" to determine one's self worth is self-defeating and unnecessary. Some of the greatest writers in the world met with intitial rejection. The reason we know of them now is because they kept on in spite of it--knowing that this is what they were born and driven to do.

 
At 11:37 PM, Blogger Henry said...

That struggle must be hard. My mom worked in the publishing world for 30 years. I remember her talking about all these back-stabbing A-holes at her job, all trying to climb their way up. She did the same work for 2 different mags and only got one promotion at the second mag just a few years before retiring. She was excellent at her job.

She was always happy with the work, just not the puny minded people around her. Don't get me wrong, she made some great friends that she keeps to this day, but she had to work with some real losers.

Is it time for you to reread Validation? I told you before, quit worrying about other people; 9 out of 10 people you're getting all lathered up over are utter idiots. Forget them and concentrate on the craft.

Build it and they will come.

 
At 2:15 AM, Blogger elvira black said...

H:

Thanks, as always for the kind words. But if there weren't so many assholes, what in the world would I write about? I am forever in their debt...(sniffle, sniffle).

 
At 3:43 PM, Blogger Lauren said...

Elvira,

Thank you for stopping by PCQuill and for recommending us to your readers. Please stop by any time.

You've got great info and your site.

 
At 4:11 PM, Anonymous Jim Bronaugh said...

Well, I gathered two concrete facts from the part one presentation.1. You know a great deal about the shadow world of unpublished authors, and 2. You are crazy as a bug, and I love you for it.

I have never completed the second draft of anything I have ever written, so I am not qualified to speak about the in's and out's of publishing. But I did enjoy the whole tale, which is really saying something because I find it very difficult to read from a computer screen.
I hope you will not quit the E-group,(and you know which one I mean)because, unlike 'real' authors, those silly little ego holes are all the contact we have with writting.

 
At 5:16 PM, Blogger elvira black said...

Lauren:

Thanks for stopping by. I just loved those two pieces, and will visit again asap. This is one of the sites that I think writers who need inside info and tips would be fortunate to find. When I started trying to publish in earnest, it was a lot harder to get wonderful info like this.


Jim:

The shadow world of unpublished authors--I love it! Thanks so much, Jim, for your kind words, and for being one of the few from ye olde writer's group to actually check out my site.

I took a hiatus from the group for awhile, and when I returned I found donut guy still up to his old tricks--though a few people were starting to call him out on it. Then a fascinating flame fest started to develop--quite exciting!

I had been pondering about doing a Pub or Per Part 3, but now I've calmed down a little. And the fact that you visited and commented has really helped me feel better (and less bitter) about the whole megillah.

Hope you'll stop by and comment again. See you at the good old writer's group for more sharing and caring!

 
At 3:28 AM, Blogger ariadneK, Ph.D. said...

I'm glad you linked back to this older post Elvira (from the most recent one on your blog); I hadn't read this yet, but I found it extremely eye-opening. I have been writing something that I hadn't thought (until recently) of even trying to publish...it was more just something "for myself"; however, I'd been looking into resources online recently and had begun to suspect that there are only 2 types of "writers-to-be" that try to get published: the clueless and the savvy. I fall into the clueless category, but at least I admit it. :-)

 
At 7:50 AM, Blogger elvira black said...

AriadneK:

Thanks for braving the dusty archives (lol)...

You are definitely savvy, not clueless! And you're a great writer as well. So cut that out.

Since I've been blogging, I've seen some fantastic writing by you and others. Astoundingly great stuff. One of the great things about the blogosphere, to my mind, is that all that talent can be, and is, published--right here on the web, for all the world (literally) to see.

As a result, traditional publishers and editors no longer totally control what others get to read, or whether writers make their "cut" (and their cut doesn't preclude the fact that there are many super-"worthy" writers who don't get published.) No longer can the mainstream media have a stranglehold on their limited, and often shortsighted, spin on world events and politics.

I think the blogosphere has revolutionized the whole notion of what publishing is. There are superstar bloggers; bloggers who make a great deal of money blogging; mainstream writers and other media types who also blog; and so on--if that's their thing. But they are not the only game in town--not by a long shot.

As for me, I love the fact that you can get feedback on your blog from comments, and in turn visit their blog and comment too. Try doing that when you publish an article in a newspaper...once in a great while they may publish a letter to the ed, but that's about it.

All the work I did for the "man" was very arduous. Even when I wrote about things I loved, I had to do it with the editor's goals in mind. In a sense, my words were not completely my "own." Now that I'm blogging, I find writing to be a virtually effortless joy, rather than a source of anxiety.

As for getting "published"--go for it A! I'm sure you can if you have the desire to. It just means jumping through a few hoops and playing the "game." As for me, I don't miss it--I'm having too much fun blogging!

 

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