You might’ve not noticed a new jewel of writerly blogosphere Tuesday Fiction Writers. It is still fresh and innocent, but we hope, in time, it’ll mature into a showpiece of… well, something-or-another. As one of the TFW site administrators, I sincerely hope that our blog page won’t become a repository of whimpering posts where writers complain to other writers about how awfully hard it is – impossible, really – for a novice writer to get published his/her groundbreaking novel about writers, complaining to other writers about how to find readers. There are plenty of those already, both blogs and published novels.
With the abundance of great talent (including mine, of course) anything is possible. Just watch us. As of late, we have livened up our page with a fab picture of a silver-cased quill as our header image.
Looks lovely, isn’t it? From here, sky is a limit. Where Sky is the uppermost layer of blogosphere, the place where the sun is shining all the time, the moon comes and goes as it pleases, always full and yellow like a smiley face.
This post has to do with the topic, suggested by Nana Mizushima on the TFW blog page, about a New York Times editorial with the enticing title It can happen to you, oups! 47 Rejections, Then the Booker Long List, featuring Donal Ryan, the writer who made it.
Writers are incessantly fascinated by other writers, especially the great and/or successful ones, and endlessly interested in their torments, creative pitfalls, moral shortfalls, personal hygiene and rugs to reaches life stories.
My main impression of the article, however, was bafflement. Not like in “perplexity” but rather like in “bemusement”.
If I were to find this article posted on one of the writer blogs, where writers, after complaining to other writers… start telling happy tales of someone actually making it in these impenetrable jungles in spite of every adversity, it would be OK with me. Nobly and gently, these blogs serve as virtual support groups for despondent masses of aspirants, and the stories of someone’s success infuse some level of optimism into some writers – tomorrow it might be me, Me, ME! But New York Times editorial offering a muddled message of solace?
More than one muddled message, actually:
1. Rejoice, writerly brethren! Don’t lose hope because good — really-really good! — things (Pulitzer prizes won, manuscripts pulled out of slush piles and published) sometimes happen to good — really-really good! — people who may or may not be better writers than you, You, YOU.
These stories hearten struggling writers and everyone else who struggles too. They allow us to believe that our luck could change at any moment; that if we persevere beyond the point of reason and perhaps good taste, we may finally succeed. (Quote from the article)
2. Things in publishing industry are bad — really-really bad! — and getting progressively worse.
These stories, finally, tell us that a healthy book industry is a diverse one, in which it’s possible for a talented author to knock on several doors before resorting to self-publishing. The more gatekeepers, the better the odds for the next Donal Ryan.
As it happens, the industry is going in the opposite direction. The news about Mr. Ryan came on the heels of a merger between Penguin and Random House to form the world’s largest publisher, with more than 25 percent of the global book business. Assuming the merger unfolds in the usual manner, the company will announce layoffs due to “redundancies,” meaning fewer imprints with fewer editors looking for the next Donal Ryan. (Quote from the article)
This is pretty much the whole editorial. I’m sure the editorial board means well and is perfectly sincere. A good number of very dirty Russian jokes about good intentions and their unintentional outcomes immediately comes to mind.
Let’s veer into a bit of sarcasm here, to brighten up the mood. Unless you live in a different world than I am — which shouldn’t surprise either one of us — the easiest way to become a published writer – often even before you conjure up your magnum opus – is to become a celebrity. Or an overnight sensation or some sort. It’s not a simple task for a simple folk, but happens even to the worst of us. More frequently to the worst of us, I’d say, but I cannot support my opinion by any reliable statistics.
Unless the choice is obvious and “genetically predetermined”, choose your path to celebrity carefully, try hard, like really-really hard, and reach for the stars. Become a Rock Star, for example. A Sports Star… Or a Movie Star. A Star Witness in a cinematically compelling mob trial of the century (You have to hurry and publish your book before being assassinated, although sales might soar precisely because you’d be dead).
Get convicted of a crime you haven’t committed, spend 20-odd years in prison and voilà! Do something extreme. Shock them out of their minds. You have to be extremely inventive to go to extremes these days, when everything mind-boggling seems to have been invented already… Short of murder, which seems to be perennially in vogue… Ah, well.
Get yourself into real mess with booze, drugs, sex, and violence (choose your vice), experience epiphany, however briefly, gather a group of followers, invent a religion… Simpler yet, get some dumb video, making a fool of your person, pray it’ll go viral… then wait for a flock of agents sniffing you out – you already have a million of prospective readers… As you can see, possibilities are aplenty, none mentioned in NYT editorial.
Well, as New York Times assures us, “Such things happen.” The ways of the Almighty are unbeknownst and endlessly befuddling. Confucius must’ve said something smart on the subject as well.