No, everything is not all right

I read a lot of writer and editor blogs. I adore many of them. They are insightful, funny, and interesting. But sometimes their “everything will work out!” balanced and upbeat tone makes me want to stick a fork in my eye. Maybe two forks.

I’m glad you’ve achieved equanimity 20,000 words into the second draft of your novel. I’m glad that you figured out how to add serial commas to an entire manuscript using two keystrokes instead of three. I’m glad you have discovered that meditating and having sex five times a day cures your writer’s block and gets you an agent. Really, I’m delighted.

But what about the rest of us? Sometimes that client never calls you back because of something you did. Sometimes you sit at your desk and cry because your nineteen-year-old cat is literally on her last legs. You read mediocre fantasy novels instead of writing. You blow off impending deadlines to hang curtains, which you should have done last night except that you were reading mediocre fantasy novels. All completely hypothetical, of course.

What’s gone wrong for you this week?

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14 responses to “No, everything is not all right

  1. I’m neither a writer nor an editor, but I’ve found over the course of blogging that I’ve altered my tone to skew more positive. No syrupy optimism, of course. But whenever I crack a door to let some of my natural doom and gloom in, the comments. Lord, the comments. They range from maniacally peppy encouragement (“It’ll be OK!!!!!! Hang in there!!!!!!!!”) to one-upsmanship (“Really? You think THAT’S bad?”) to induced depression (“Wow. I think I’m going to go curl up in the fetal position on the floor and cry myself to sleep.”).

    I’ve grown very aware that I’m writing for a wide group of people with varied personalities who sometimes do not actually read into my subtle cues that IS SAD BUT ALSO FUNNY, PLZ LAUGH NOW. Because general cynicism and failure is hilarz! To me, anyway. I tell my husband every day that everything is awful and we’re all going to die. LOL, right? Apparently, not everyone agrees.

    Anyway. I’m more careful about how I frame things now, because I don’t want to have to explain or clarify in the comments that no really, your prayers are not needed at this time. It’s odd being in the public eye, even if that “public” is merely comprised of a few dozen people, and it’s somehow safer to celebrate accomplishments there than to speak of the shitty hours you waste each week being ineffectual.

    Which is why I cherish this post.

    • Even if you don’t have a writing blog, you are a writer. And that’s not just syrupy, it’s that why should I give a fuck about some chick in Santa Barbara who is getting married or writing about her life except I READ HER BLOG RELIGIOUSLY because, goddamn, she can tell a story and shape a sentence and is funny and dark and substantive.

      The target of my ire is [redacted as usual], a blog that uses a lot of real names of people who are or would like to be published. And so it has to appeal to the masses, like you say. But what irritates me is not just the syrupy and one-upmanship comments, it’s also the self-promotion. Now I’m a writer, so I’m all about self-promotion in certain contexts, but I’m surely not promoting myself as a copyeditor while writing this blog. I’ve written a few self-promoting blog posts elsewhere and it’s a lot of effort to be hearty and collegial. And it gets old after a while. I love that Betsy Lerner (you must read her blog if you don’t already) can be both eponymous and tell it like it is.

      But what you say is really interesting. Let’s talk when I have more than twelve readers ;).

  2. I’m shoring up a writer. Her manuscript is exactly where it needs to be and written beautifully but she’s she’s sent out several queries and had no takers, thanks to the current market. So she wanted a ‘fresh eyes’ opinion. Well, she got it. The person she sent it to liked little about the story and less about the characters. Problem is, Fresh Eyes doesn’t read in the story’s genre but she well and truly has opinions and voices them loudly. So now the writer has decided she can’t write and the whole world is hopeless. I hate people who think that to critique, one has to tear apart when constructive criticism, if any is called for, could go a long way. So now I’m doing damage repair. Hate having to do that.

    • Genre haters piss me off. I once had to listen to a woman in graduate school go on and on about how she hated poetry and couldn’t possibly critique it. I wanted to slap her. You’re in graduate school for WRITING. Critiquing is your job, get over it. Good luck to your author! Take her out for a drink :).

  3. Oh, love, let me count the ways. After wiping up my son’s urine every morning from the bathroom floor which, it seems likely, he intentionally sprays, I then negotiate verbal squabbles among pre-tweens who have looked at each other the wrong way, followed by a good kick in the belly by a spirited 7 year old. All this before my first cup of coffee. It’s a glorious life.

  4. Sometimes fantasy novels are the only thing that holds me together, especially in the dark moments of my life. Someone somewhere is having a worst time than me and they will survive, kickass and be themeselves. And I care about their adventure. What could go wrong? A dragon isn’t going to kill me. I’m not a vampire’s food source. Nor am I learning that I am a were. Or that I need to rescue anyone from evil (although, I do metaphorically struggle with this in real life..sigh), nor am I going to be able to change time. After that my troubles receded into the ether. I don’t have to feel them. Sigh.

    And I do believe that hanging curtains are heavy and important work. It’s about being at home in your new space. And it works like reading…it allows for a breather.

  5. I’m totally psyched that Clause and AnotherDamnLife have found each other. Lyn is a total wordsmith and a cool chick to boot. You two will be very happy together.

    Does it make you feel any better that I’m on book #2 of the Diana Gabaldon Outlander series? As if I don’t read enough stupid shit on the internet.

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