Bitch on the Blog

September 4, 2013

Renee

Filed under: Books,Errors,Literature — bitchontheblog @ 11:58
Tags: , , , , , , ,

I cherish all of my readers. Each in their own way. Not least the gentle Renee of reneejohnsonwrites.com  fame who drew my attention to an entry of her gripe with literary agents. It’s a worthy subject. So worthy that I will replicate my answer to her here. Can’t believe I am doing this since I hate repeating myself. However, word needs to be spread.

Here goes:

“Renee, if there is one thing I don’t like it’s when I can’t contribute anything meaningful; throw in my penny’s worth of nothing.

I am not a writer. I just sprinkle a few words here and there. For which I do not need an agent. Being published most certainly not on my mind. However, working in the world you are referring to, it’s no mean feat to be an agent. Their inbox full to bursting point. Which is no excuse to behave as if the devil wore Prada. To answer all those (often unsolicited manuscripts) you need staff. For light relief and comfort, Renee, you may like to log on to any ordinary English employment agency’s website and what do you find? That most cheerful line of “Due to the amount of applications we will not be able to respond unless you are one of the chosen” or some such. Fuck you too. Still, at least they give you advance warning.

That’s why those who spout words for a living need to keep perspective.

Don’t know about the American market. Here we have a yearly handbook (published by McMillan) which details – at great pain – anything an agent is looking for. Who they MIGHT handle, who they might drop like a hot potato because they don’t do starch. “The Writer’s Handbook”.

I think writers are too precious. Sure, all of you think your prodigious output worthy of note. But it isn’t. There is supply and demand. And, please all of you forgive me for this: There is too much supply. I come across people who THINK they can write where I’d just like to put my editor’s pen to their prose, thin it like I’d weed my garden, and then maybe, just maybe, it might catch a reader’s interest.

Writing (for profit) is a luxury. Enjoy if you can afford it.

U”

U

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9 Comments »

  1. Personally I think very few writers are naturally born – effective writing is a learned skill. You learn how to write by writing and having that work picked apart by an editor. Nearly everyone has a story they think worthy of the printed page. The trick is to put that story on the page in such a way that the reader wants to read it. Not an easy task. Clearly many bloggers suffer from unwarranted arrogance when it comes to their writings. There’s nothing worse than a good idea that is poorly written. Now a bad idea – poorly written – can be as funny as the best joke, albeit unintentionally so.

    Comment by Chuck McConvey — September 4, 2013 @ 13:24 | Reply

    • You say ‘effective writing is a learned skill’. Yes and no. In essay writing, in journalism – yes. You can refine it: The headline should never be “Dog bites man” but “Man bites dog”.

      What of the Prousts of this world? There you are, in your bed, never having attended any writing class, chipping away at a tome for which, one day and dead, you will be famous for. If only because no one appears to be able to finish it. That’s genius. Lost time. In search of.

      You are right: Is there anything more cruel (for the author) than causing unintentional hilarity? That’s why one (the reader/critic) needs to be in grip of some sort of composure – at least in public.

      U

      Comment by bitchontheblog — September 7, 2013 @ 18:53 | Reply

      • As in all of “The Arts” – there are indeed those born to it – whatever it may be in question. I do find it ironic however that so many ofthe so-called best authors are to me virtually unreadable or downright boring.

        Comment by shackman — September 13, 2013 @ 18:11 | Reply

        • Yes, Shackman. It’s why I ignore the best seller list and stick with the tried and, often, testing one’s patience.

          To be fair, what is one person’s amusement (say a book about the love life of butterflies) is another’s jump over boredom threshold. Main thing to remember, and I am sure you do: Say it as it is. Just because someone does manage to string a few words together and gets published doesn’t mean we have to worship on a shrine. Am a little preoccupied this minute so can’t remember the exact saying: Something to do with sows’ ears and silk purses.

          U

          Comment by bitchontheblog — September 13, 2013 @ 21:27 | Reply

  2. Sad but true.
    That’s the thing about writing to get published – there’s so much of the trying to get published part that it gets in the way of the writing part. But hey, just think of the trees that are being saved.

    Comment by blackwatertown — September 6, 2013 @ 01:23 | Reply

    • I thought you were dead, Paul. Only two days ago, no joke, I starting writing your obituary in my mind. Like Jesus Christ on Easter Sunday you popped up again. Which reminds me: Our local Co-op started putting on the shelves chocolate Fathers Christmas last week in August. Soon there’ll be Easter Bunnies on 25 December. Maybe they could just stock them all year round. Saving us the anguish of panic buying.

      I feel for writers. Yet, in whatever line of business, we all need to market ourselves. And in an overcrowded market it’s mayhem. Leaving Renee’s lament over agents’ lack of courtesy aside: Fact is being an agent is a tough job. Let’s look at another market: Longest standing friend, a painter: He works painstakingly, amazing output, and to high acclaim – prized and praised in New York, Cannes and other places. Yet, he has accepted long since that as much, and sometimes more, as 60 % (SIXTY – I nearly fainted when he told me) of any painting sold will go to the gallerist for their pains. And maybe lucky that he has hit it off with his main gallerist (agent by another name) really putting herself out for him. Since my friend does not pickle cows (ref Hirst) or displays contents of his bedroom (ref. Tracy Emmins) to catch the ever elusive Saatchi’s eye is proving a little difficult for me.

      Point being: TIME TIME TIME. That is essentially what an agent gives a writer/any artist.

      U

      Comment by bitchontheblog — September 7, 2013 @ 19:21 | Reply

  3. I agree with you, U. There is a surplus when it comes to writers waiting, needing, to be discovered. The problem that I have the the publishing industry (well, one of the problems) is that if you are already famous for writing, as a ditzy reality TV show personality or for being a criminal, you can get your “book” published in an instant (which is probably how long it took to write). There are talented writers who will go unnoticed because they don’t have money or celebrity, and that is a loss to all of us.

    Comment by Lorna's Voice — September 10, 2013 @ 14:03 | Reply

    • Absolutely, Lorna. And some of those ‘glitzy’ writings ghosted anyway.

      As to your last sentiment: In Britain certain publishers are hopping around on one foot this minute not having had the good sense to accept J K Rowling’s crime novel written under a pseudonym. As are shame faced critics having given her book lukewarm reviews. No sooner the corpse out of the bag, no sooner the title shooting right up the charts.

      U

      Comment by bitchontheblog — September 10, 2013 @ 14:41 | Reply


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