Sunday, September 24, 2006
Rainy and warm
I hope you all had a productive second harvest yesterday. I find I’m clearing more debris this year than harvesting.
If you’re not dealing with other people’s stupidity, you’re dealing with your own carelessness.
I’m sick and tired of unpublished wanna-bes flapping their gums about how if you earn a living at your craft, you’re a hack and making broad statements like “nobody in this room makes a living at it”, blah, blah, blah. Shut up and stop making pronouncements about which you know nothing in order to validate your own cowardice and lack of commitment.
There’s a difference between someone with credentials and experience formulating an argument about art vs. craft and someone with no credentials who pontificates that anyone who earns a living from his art must be a hack. That’s merely sour grapes and trying to lash out at someone for having the guts to do what you can’t. It’s the typical b.s. spouted by an unpublished writer to justify why he can’t cut it in the literary community.
Margaret Atwood, Salman Rushdie, Terry Brooks, Terry Pratchett, Jodi Picoult, Elizabeth Berg, and scores of others make a living at their craft and they’re certainly not hacks.
If these yappy non-professionals were actually publishing and getting paid for their work, they’d sing a different tune. It’s evidence for what I discussed on this blog on Friday.
And if the people at PEN feel I’m qualified enough to work on material that could prevent writers all over the world from being executed, that carries a lot more weight than witless accusations from an unpublished nobody.
My own carelessness is even more annoying, however. You can keep cutting the deadwood wanna-bes out of your life on a regular basis (sort of like spring and fall cleaning – clean out the people who weigh you down/hold you back at least twice a year, too). But then there are the times you screw up and there’s no one else to blame, and you have to figure out how to fix your own damn life.
Case in point: I finally have a draft of “Ris an Abrar” (the short story version) with which I’m happy. I could tweak if for fifteen years and never be done, but the practical side of me knows it’s complete.
I go over the guidelines again to see what silly weirdness they want on the manuscript (I’m absolutely convinced that these companies change one slight detail outside of standard manuscript format to test contributors on guideline-reading). Technically, everything’s fine. I need to change where I put the page numbers and the word count – no big deal.
Content-wise is where I hit the roadblock. Although it’s supposed to be for adult audiences, they want the content suitable for between “PG-13 and R” ratings.
So I’m screwed. Because there is no way I can stay true to a story about Sacred Consorts and have it be less than an R. And one of the major themes is the conflict between what constitutes positive sexuality/love-making and prostitution.
It’s something I would discuss with one of my thirteen year old godchildren if the topic came up; I don’t know if I’d be comfortable with a random thirteen year old picking it up in a bookstore. Even though plenty of thirteen year olds openly discuss things I’d never have admitted knowing when I was thirteen.
I checked the guidelines currently up with the ones I originally printed out – and they’re different (including the deadline). So I’m not as careless as I originally thought, but still . . .I hate it when they change guidelines mid-submission period, and this particular publication has done so more than once.
Back to the Writers’ Market, to find a more appropriate market for “Ris an Abrar.” With much swearing and muttering on my part.
Changed my mind on a couple of markets, shuffling where I want to send what. I have to sit down and do cover letters, print clean copies, etc., and get out a slew of submissions this week.
Tried to focus on Real, since I’m so close to the end, but it’s difficult. I’m sure part of it is because I’m reluctant to leave the world in which I’ve spent so much time over the past few months, and Sam, Callie, and Crispin are some of my favorite characters.
Figured out a huge problem in Fix-It Girl, and, pardon the expression, fixed it, which clears the way to finish the draft. That’s a huge relief. Because I need to get a bunch of stuff finished and cleared away. Time to send the “children” out into the world.
I was pleased to see the final draft of the PEN petition I signed last week, which will be presented to Congress this week. The argument is intelligently and articulately presented, and I agree with it wholeheartedly, and am happy I signed. Hopefully it will make a difference.
Sat down with a pad of paper, pen, and the market listings to make detailed notes for several of the novels I’m prepping. The ones that are within striking distance of being ready to shop. This way, as the polished drafts are ready, and the logline, one paragraph summary, outline, synopsis and cover letters are done, out they go. Boom, boom, boom. No excuses and fussing around. Research’s done. Got about half way through the alphabet.
Rewrote the query letter for Dixie Dust Rumors and it’s much stronger. I need to get that circulating.
Now that I’ve retired Tapestry, I found a good market for it. Sigh. So I’ll take another look at it. If I think there’s even a change of salvage, I’ll do a revision and query it. Especially as I have three other books dealing with Nina’s adventures roughed out, too. If I add less than a thousand words to “Tumble”, I can submit it as a stand-alone novelette to the same publisher. Which makes sense, since the short story market for a piece of just over 11K is limited.
The dinner party went well, thank you. I’m so used to creating dinners for twenty that a dinner for eight is a vacation. The Elitist turned up, muttering about joining us in this pagan ritual. He’s such a proper Anglican that I was forced to remind him his church was created so Henry VIII could shed Catharine of Aragon and marry Anne Boleyn. Who’s talking heathen? But he brought a good bottle of wine, so all was forgiven. And I was even more surprised to find him in the kitchen helping with the dishes (it’s became an unwritten law at my dinner parties that since I do all the cooking, the guests take over the dishes – that’s gone on since the salon days in San Francisco in the mid-80s). The Elitist said he figured if he didn’t help in the kitchen, I’d call him a sexist and bash him upside the head with a frying pan. I pointed out that I often want to bash him upside the head with a frying pan, but so far, I’ve refrained.
The Mystery Guest, The Meaning of Night, and The Thirteenth Tale all arrived yesterday and I can’t wait to dive into them!