Saturday, July 23, 2011

Writers and Negativity

So, recently I had a few friends ask me for a copy of my book, Shell. I have no problem of giving away copies of my book, but this time I chose to say no, because the book is currently on submission and I thought it would be best to wait and see if the book was published or not.

Naturally, people get huffy when you say no. They don't understand why I wouldn't want to. Suddenly, they think I'm in it for the money.

This baffles me every time I hear it. I guarantee no writer will ever say this. If I was in life for the money, I would have gotten into business. Or marketing. Or tried my hand at driftwood sculpting. Writers DON'T make that much money. Most writers don't make enough to live on. Not, "Oh, I'm not paid enough." More like, "I HAVE $12 DOLLARS AND I HAVE TO PAY MY ELECTRICITY BILL AND RENT."

Yes, there are writers who make it big. And honestly? NOBODY REALLY KNOWS WHY. People pretend to know why Harry Potter was so big or how the Twilight phenomenon came about. They nod their heads and smoke their pipes and say, "Mm, yes, we expected that to come along. Precisely as anticipated."

The truth? Nobody knows what makes a bestseller besides: write a good story. So, those writers that do enter into this world to make money? You have a better chance of winning the lottery. And odds are it won't leave you cursing out your laptop when it breaks down and you're under deadline.

So, writers? Honestly, not in it for the money. Even YA writers, even though there seems to be a strange misconception going around the YA writers are "trend writers" and are "trying to chase the popularity of YA right now."

Uh, no.

No.

*clears throat* No.

Are you a writer? Yes? Are there types or writers you don't have respect for? Maybe they're YA or MG authors. Maybe they're mystery or romance writers. Maybe they're nonfiction writers. If there's a certain *type* of writer that you look down on, then I'm sorry for you.

As writers, we have a great community. And that community should be supportive. We are NOT in competition with each other. Even if you think we are, we're not. Someone who picks up a YA fantasy book but ignore yours? They like YA fantasy, and odds are they may pick up your book too. Between genres? We're not at war with each other, and we need to stop acting like it.

No matter what you write, you work hard at it, and we can't compare writing a MG fantasy to an adult contemporary. There is no comparison. They both have pros and cons and they're both not easy. If you compare genres or "difficulty level" of types of writing, then you are no different from children holding up their picture and saying they did better to a parent who really doesn't care.

It may seem like writing romance or a children's book or a contemporary is easy, but that's because it's our job to make it look easy. Writers get good at what they do so it seems effortless. But it's not. And as fellow writers, we should understand each other's pain.

Which leads me to another point. Writers who dehumanize agents and editors, saying they only want what's hot, who are only interested in money, who are plain "rude" for rejecting them, come on. I shouldn't have to say this. There are plenty of agent/editor blog posts where they say WE ARE HUMAN. WE LOVE THIS JOB. WE DO WANT YOU TO SUCCEED. Agents and editors are people too, people who LOVE this business, otherwise they wouldn't be in it. Like writers, agents and editors are usually sensitive people, because many of them are writers themselves.

This business is tough, and sometimes you need to rant. It's hard to deal with rejection and waiting and the struggle. But it's absolutely intolerable if you decide to take out your frustrations on agents, editors, or fellow writers.

We are not in high school. We are not dealing with office politics. We are all grown-ups here, and sometimes certain writers need to get their heads out of their asses and realize they are not the only people who love this business. Realize that writers write what they are called towards, even if you don't enjoy their genre. Agents and editors are doing the best they can, and they don't want to be rude. They don't like sending out rejection letters, but they cannot feasibly represent every author who emails them.

And I think this brings me to my point of this post:



If you are a writer that brews negativity, that just can't get over their spite and jealousy for fellow writers, that thinks agents and editors only care about money, this is your warning.

Get over yourself, or get out of this business.

The road to publication is long and frustrating, and if you're negative about the business, it will only drag you down. It WILL alienate you from your fellow writers. It WILL make editors less inclined to work with you. It WILL put off your agent. You will drown in this business. The thing about writing (and art in general) is there is a lot of put downs, and a lot of roadblocks. And if you can't pick yourself up and move on, you will never get anywhere.

So if you're a negative writer, look at yourself and ask: is this where I should be? Is the joy I get out of this worth dealing with all the bad things?

Can I put aside my anger and frustration and jealousy and love what I do?

I want you to succeed. But if you're just going to drag everyone else down into your pool of negativity, then you can go succeed elsewhere, because we don't want you here.

Peace,

-Katie

2 comments:

  1. Nice post Kaitie. I was suddenly wondering how you were doing, and how it was going with Shell, and dropped in to check on you.

    To those who 'condemn' writers and artists for being in it for the money, I want to bitch-slap you so hard, your head flies to Uranus (and since NASA's budget has been cut, you won't be getting it back anytime soon). Of course I'm in it for the money! If I'm not getting paid for my art/writing, I simply cannot justify the time spent doing it. Because, damn, time is the most precious thing we're given on this Earth. If I'm not getting paid to do it, I can't afford to do it. And my family, without the prospect of money coming from it, they'd certainly never be so supportive of me spending so much time doing it like I am now.

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