Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Still feel the sting

Daily Stats:
Words: more than 2, less than 5000
Caffeine: morning cup + lunchtime cappuccino
Evil Calories: none due to alarming size of bottom
Reality TV: Biggest Loser

It's been one year since I began querying the daylights out of my first book. One year since I received that request for a partial from my dream agent, sending me on jaunts into la-la land. I'd been following his/her blog for what seemed like forever, now he/she wanted a partial. It was fate! All my hard work had paid off, and I finally stumbled into some decent karma. Soon we would be meeting to discuss the wonder that is my writing, and how for sure, without question, my book would go into auction, sell millions and I would end up on the cover of Vogue (not sure how, but we'd work that out later).

Of course, I quickly watched that karma flip me off, grab a cab and go screaming away down the street. A rejection from him/her quickly followed, as well as a truckload of rejections from every other agent I'd queried. For three months, I walked around with same expression, that if manifested into a verbal reflection, would have sounded something like, "But...but...but...I thought it was good...".

Oh, silly little naive self. How you keep me endlessly entertained.

But, in my defense of my little naive self, I'd already gone through something quite harsh by the time I received these rejections, and it wasn't that I was just thoroughly disappointed, but I was really confused and slightly disillusioned. I had taken a writing class, and the instructor, who had been published before, was very complimentary of my work. When the time came for the class to end, he/she asked for me to keep in contact. I did, and when my book was finished, he/she offered to read it
and give me some feedback, as well as help me with my query. I must emphasize the word "offered". I never asked or even hinted that I wanted he/she to do such a generous thing. I was so excited, had serious delusions of grandeur, got everything polished, and when time came to send it...he/she flaked. I don't mean, "oh, sorry, I changed my mind". I mean, he/she never responded to any of my emails. Ever. Even the emails I sent months later trying to be the bigger person and thanking he/she for offering to help, but saying that I knew he/she was very busy and that I'd just go forward on my own. Nada. Zippo. Zilch. There I was again, "But...but...but...??"

It sucked and to this day my stomach still turns icy when I think about it. In some ways, I think it gave he/she a little thrill to perk my hopes and then dump me into a puddle of worms. A published writer squashing the hopes of their pathetic little students to feed his/her ego. Of course, I took what I could from the situation and decided very early on that I would never, ever be that way to another writer. But, honestly, we could have skipped the whole shitty experience altogether because I already knew I didn't want to be that way. Last I checked, I have a soul.

Anyway, onward and upward. Take what you can, chuck the rest and move skyward.


Amy Ellis said...

I am still convinced that you are a better writer than Unnamed Published Author, and that she was too insecure to actually give you an objective critique. Combined with the power-tripping of "oh let me help guide you!" B.S.

I read an article - I can't remember where - during which a priest (yes, a Catholic priest) was asked what the shortest, most effective prayer was. His response "Fuck 'em." I laughed out loud that a priest would say such a thing, but he's right!

Vivi Alden said...

OMG, that's awesome. (And I often say that to myself! Had no idea it was traveling straight up to the dude upstairs!)

Elise Murphy said...

It is such a frustrating situation. I've had an agent an editor very complimentary of my work, and even go so far as to suggest they were "lucky" to potentially be working with me. But they still hold ALL the power. The power to delay, the power to push you back weeks or months, the power to read the wrong manuscript, or to not read it at all. I'm starting to think there are an elite few authors out there that get the attention and respect we all deserve.

Carrie Harris said...

What a big poopie head.

I'm so mature.

Vivi Alden said...

Elise - that is frustrating! I'm always so floored when I hear that things like that don't stop once you snag an agent. I guess it's like any other business, full of politics and BS, but, like you said, if you're lucky you end up with someone who values your work.

Carrie - Yes, total poopie head! He/she deserves a serious wedgey!

Elizabeth said...

I am overly familiar with the disillusionment of the newby writer.
You were on Vogue, I was on Oprah. But for me, it was a necessary evil, because otherwise, I wouldn't have learned SO much, not only about writing but about the biz. And also, I learned just how shitty my stuff was and how it needed to improve or get off the pot.
One day we will be published authors and we will not be big meany heads because we will remember the sting of the bubble bursting. Right?

Vivi Alden said...

Elizabeth - right! I will never be a meany head (well...unless I happen to run into this unnamed author in future. I might be tempted to pelt him/her with my shoe). The flopping of my book was definitely a necessary evil for me as well. My writing has changed drastically, just in one year. In some ways I'm glad it went nowhere and I have a chance to put myself out there again with a whole new voice. That would be difficult to do if I were already published.

Amy Ellis said...

Don't make Vivi angry. You won't like her when she's angry.

Although she doesn't turn green, so that's something.

Elizabeth said...

Nobody puts Vivi in the corner.

Big Plain V said...

It's a long, sad, long, lonely, discouraging road, ain't it?

But I'm convinced that the only way to get to reach the end is to keep on going.

(I hope that doesn't sound cheesy)

Tracey said...

I would've been too paranoid to hand my work to another author (they might steal my mediocre drek or at least my mediocre ideas). A teacher once warned a writing class I was in that magazines will commonly (ungraciously) take story ideas newbie writers pitch them and hand the piece to someone they're accustomed to working with. Sounds like there's piles of poopy heads in the writing world.

Eileen said...

oooh that was foul. Why someone couldn't say "I'm sorry that I made the offer- because at this time I don't have the time." yeesh.

So many people have been so great to me on my journey that I am committed to giving back wherever I can. I figure I owe some big writer karma to the universe.