Friday, March 12, 2010

Rules of the Elusive Publishing Club...

Important life lesson I just now am learning: first rule of the elusive publishing club is that if you want to get a book deal, you can't talk about the fact that you want to get a book deal!

I don't know why this is such a foreign concept to me. I've always been the person that tells other people not to give off the air of desperation when on a job interview or a date. After all, potential employers and mates can smell desperation like bees can smell fear, and while they may still choose to toy with you for a while, in the end you're left with a stinging redness and a butt-load of shame.

Writers can sometimes be the most desperate people on the planet. We may tell ourselves we write just for ourselves and that we'd be doing it even if no one was reading (and I think I'm proof that I still do it even when no one is reading...err, except you, loyal thirteen blog followers; you guys definitely do count for something!), but the truth of the matter is we desperately want people to read our work. And we desperately want people to love our work! If for no other reason, than we just want to know others think and want what we do, as well.

Like a lot of people who gravitate towards a career in the arts, I didn't get enough attention or validation as a child. I have no problem admitting that here, now, as writing has always been my form of therapy, and spilling my guts on a blog is much cheaper than paying someone with a musty old office and faded old degrees nailed on his or her wall! I used writing as an escape from the life I knew was not normal, let alone preferable, before I was old enough to actually get in a car-- or on a plane, as the case may have been-- and literally leave it all behind. I created worlds in which I wanted to be; I created characters to which I felt I could relate; and more often than not I made up stories that I could regale my real life friends with in the hopes that it would make me seem more interesting.

I went through a phase in junior high school in which I didn't want to workshop my writing or tell anyone what stories I was working on. Part of it, I think, was out of fear that someone else would copy me and do it better-- and this was years before I moved out to Los Angeles to work in the television and film industry, where I learned that more often than not the shows that were greenlit for pilot or the independent film scripts that were moving into production were very similar to some of my formative years' work! And I went through an even worse phase in college when I suddenly felt I "didn't need" writing anymore; somehow I convinced myself that writing was what I did to survive a tumultuous childhood but being "all grown up now," I could move on. I went through a phase of "too cool" to truly be myself at an age when it was no longer even the slightest bit cute or amusing that one would do so!

Yet, had I tried to sell a previously penned screenplay at that time, I somehow think I would have been successful...

The point of all of this, though, is that I have come back around and realized that writing is all I truly love and want to do. I am making amends to the art for the years we spent apart from each other by yelling to anyone and everyone who will listen that this is what I want to do with my life. Pretty much so far my cries have fallen on deaf years-- perhaps because they seem somewhat manic when coupled with my wild-eyed, high-strung mannerisms. No one wants to be around the over-eager girl at the party who is trying to talk your ear off about meaningful experiences when all you want to do is get trashed and play beer pong. I know this from experience; it's why I don't do the big house-party scene. But it seems to work as a metaphor in relation to the publishing industry, as well. So while I have written two novels and a pop culture memoir that every agent seems to think is "just not right for us at this time," two of my fellow bloggers have recently received book deals (and one has already released his memoir).

Almie Rose, of Apocalypstick fame, is a writer/actress who punctuates her site with tracks she is currently listening to and indie photography, taking multi-media to a new level. She recently signed with a publishing company and Tweeted that she had absolutely no idea what her book should be about...though I suspect that is just a humbleness eeking its way out because had she not had material falling out of her butt, she wouldn't be able to keep her site as updated as she has and said publishing company would have never come knocking.

Jason Mulgrew, the blogger whose book was released last week, seems to have always used writing as a hobby to get through an otherwise boring corporate job existence. Or maybe that's my own projection because so much of my own site was born from the desire to never have to work a nine-to-five behind a desk... He is the 2010 Augusten Burroughs, spinning what some might consider painful childhood memories into sardonic cautionary tales you can imagine him laughing about over beers (or tequila) with friends.

I know I should be happy for them. When one succeeds, in a way we all do because it keeps us on the map of relevance, right? And they are both clever, funny writers whose posts I look forward to because of how much I can relate even though we're from different walks of life. It appears that what they have and I don't right now, though, is the willingness to pull their "cool guy" hat low on their head-- so that it covers their eyes and you can't see where they're really looking, let alone what they're really thinking!-- and pretend like writing a book is a big chore with which they have been almost inconvenienced or burdened. It's an attitude that is more and more common among today's authors who are trying to attract today's jaded, would-rather-watch-a-guy-get-hit-in-the-balls-clip-on-YouTube-than-read-anything youth (even Chelsea Handler has vowed to never write another one because of how time-consuming it is...but then again, she tried to do it while in production on a full time, five night a week live-to-tape talk show).

I have never been afraid or ashamed to admit that writing a book is something I would be proud to get a paid offer to do-- hell, I've already done it multiple times for free! I don't believe in The Secret, but I think there's something to be said for being willing to admit you want something in life and sharing it with those you hope can help you get there/to it. In my willingness to show my desperate and therefore vulnerable side, though, I seem to have lost any cool points I might have gained from learning all about sex and love from television.

Intrigued? That is a story that is so specific and personal, I will not tell it unless it is in the safety and comfort of a crisp hardcover. Which means it's a secret I'll probably be taking to my grave...

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