How about we support one another?

15 Feb

So there’s a publisher I’m not at all affiliated with who, on her blog really likes to remind us how superior she and her publishing house is. You can guess by my tone how impressed I *really* am.

Read as sour grapes if you desire.

I like to read what other people in the industry have to say, but I don’t like the drama so I try to stay out of it. Recently, this publisher complained and stated many prospective writers are ‘lazy’ and we shouldn’t expect publishers to teach us how to write.

Well, no Sh*t, most publishers send back a form rejection and most common little ticky box after “doesn’t do it for me” is some variation of “learn to edit”. If I ever find my Binder O Rejection, I might blank some info out and you can see what I mean, but I’m still unpacking. (Literally; figuratively unpacking might make for scarier reading than Dreams of Mariposa). No, short of someone with a legit email saying effectively, “Bahahaha… we’re cool, post the whole thing” I won’t tell you who did what. Professionalism, I dunno.

I had no idea how bad a writer I was at sixteen and seventeen. Actually, I knew it wasn’t great but I was also deemed a talented artist (drawing and oil painting; I still am terrible at sculpting), although my fundamental understanding of anatomy was based on the posters in the weight room.  I knew but the depths of my understanding of my suck was limited.

I got more praise for being creative as opposed to technical. I still tried. Not saying the internet wasn’t a thing when I was in junior high and high school – it was, but it was still kind of a thing for rich kids. I learned to write, sentence by sentence, going to writing classes, mostly working on that series I finished in high school but decided to work on single, stand alones before a dropped a 5 book series on someone’s desk. I could go on about being the adorable science fiction and fantasy writer go getting in a room full of older, literary types, but that’s another topic altogether. The short answer is, although genre fiction may embrace tropes literature besmirches, prose is prose. Not saying certain genres are more likely to be experimental than others, but my sentences don’t magically become run-ons because I switched from Westerns to Thrillers.

Now, getting those early rejection letters are hard, but I know why I got them: I didn’t know what I was doing. I could be here forever thanking the people who were willing to hurt my precious feelings to teach me how to improve. Not just in writing, but in art, sports, you name it. You could call me a lot of things: a hack, a silly little girl, someone goofing off into escapism. Lazy wasn’t one of them.

There were some amazing writers and editors who tolerated my less than brilliance. What I distinctly remember are the assholes. Like, instructors and editors angry that a teenager was taking a class, that I’m here to write ~romance~ or whatever, and could I just kindly shut up? I mean, blame sexism if you want but half of them were women. Now, submitting to a publisher is non visual, and they had every right to judge me based on the work I produced. But when go to pitch sessions in person, and you get sized up and written off before they look at you, let’s just say, 30-something me is not impressed with how they handled barely 20’s me.

Call me stupid. Call me wasting my time. Don’t call me lazy when I switched a shift and have to leave early to catch a bus to go make that tip money to afford the next class. Don’t call me lazy when I’m working multiple jobs and a student, taking what classes I can and self-teaching the rest.

If someone’s willing to be butt in chair, hashing out even a short novel, I don’t think that’s laziness, even if they don’t understand what makes for good prose.  I can’t speak for everyone that’s excited and they sent it off before it had a chance to breathe and be refined. It’s like, being proud off a piece of linear art before you know the proper anatomy. You fake it, you fool most people, and you and your art teacher smile because you have no concept of where biceps inserts, and it’s hilarious now after I don’t even know how many anatomy and kinesiology classes.

It’s nice to have access to and ability to improve your life, and I am not going to besmirch anyone for having access to more resources than others. There was a time when I didn’t know as much as I do now, and if I continue an attitude of life long learning, I’ll look back to now and acknowledge many things I was yet a novice. As a reader though, who likes reading local authors, indie books, small presses; I’d rather read a rough book with heart and character than a perfectly polished editor’s dream devoid of soul. Also, if I know someone’s a jerk, I’ll find a way to read it for free, if I read it at all. Personally, I’d rather ‘bad’ material fade into obscurity as opposed to discussing it.

That isn’t to say I won’t be criticize, and I will probably hold you to the same standard as the author who had ample resources – just because I’ve never been to Ireland or Wales is no excuse for me to not have done my research in Tower of Obsidian. I’m saying not everyone who’s learning how to skate is going to make pro, or even get a scholarship.  I know it’s weird to compare writing books to athleticism, but a big part of athleticism is being a better athlete than you were before, and helping others succeed, nay, if coaching, surpass you at your peak. Sports are character building, and we all agree what poor sportsmanship looks like.

So be nice to your waitress, they may one day decide what size IV needle you get.

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