Thursday, September 30, 2010

A conversation at the gym

There's this guy at my gym who is literally my opposite in every way. I am a Cubs fan; he's a Cardinals fan. I am a Bears fan'; he is a Packers fan. I'm a Democrat; he's a Tea Party follower.

I have hair; well, you know ....

This guy also thinks people who write novels are namby-pambies who ought to go out and work like real people. He's told me this before. In fact, our long-running "discussion" has always centered around his view that "any schmuck" can write a novel. He claims he got an A on an essay in high school English class and the teacher wrote on it that he should "seriously consider writing."

Instead, he became a plumber because, he says, he wanted "a real job."

Now being a plumber is not only lucrative and qualifies as a "real job," it's one of those things I cannot do -- like mechanics and algebra and golf.

But his views on writing, especially on fiction writing, always rub me the wrong way. Big time.

And this morning, he was waiting for me. What follows is a somewhat comical, exaggerated version of our real conversation. (I exaggerated it to make a point and, well, because this is MY blog. I mean no disrespect to viewers of Fox News, although I can't say the same about Packers and Cardinal fans.)

"Hey, it's the wimpy little writer guy," he said, snapping me with his wet towel.

"In the flesh," I said, peeling off my sweaty tee-shirt. "How about them Bears?"

"They got lucky," he snarled. "So guess what I heard on Fox News this morning?"

"Gee. I dunno. That Obama and Pelosi were the brains behind the 9-11 terror attacks?"

"Well, other than that."

I sighed. "Okay. I'll bite. What?"

He grinned. "That little fireplug chick from The Jersey Shore is writing a novel."


"You know, what's her name. The stubby one with the fake red tan and that hairy pillbox on her head."

"Ah. Nicole "Snooki" Polizzzi from MTV?"

"Yeah. That mouthy chick who's always getting carried out of nightclubs. You know, the one not named Lindsay or Paris."

"Yeah. I know who she is. A book huh? Must be a memoir. I mean, if Justin Beiber can write one, anyone can."

"No. No. A novel. I think it's gonna be called A Shore Thing or something like that."

I laughed. "Yeah, well good luck getting it published."

He smiled. "She's already got a book deal."

I froze. "Really?"

"Yep. I wonder who her agent is? I wonder how her whatchamacallit, query, got to the top of the shit pile?"

"Slush pile," I corrected. "And to be honest, I'm ... not really sure."

He grinned smugly. "I bet that really pisses you off, doesn't it? After all the work you and your little Internet writer buddies do. Goes to show I was right all along. Ha."

"I suppose she could be an idiot-savant or something like that," I said, stammering.

"I don't know what a savant is, but you got the idiot part right."

I managed to get out of there and rushed home. I Googled Snooki and there it was, right above an article headlined, "Snooki fined $500 for being a drunken nuisance."

Here is the nutgraph:

"Nicole “SnookiPolizzi of Jersey Shore will write a novel. Yep, you read right—a novel. By Snooki. The same Snooki who told New York Times writer Cathy Horyn that she’s only read two books in her life: Twilight and Dear John. (Not that I have anything against Stephenie Meyer and Nicholas Sparks. But two books in her life?) Snooki’s novel will be titled A Shore Thing, and according to Publishers Marketplace it’s about “a girl looking for love on the boardwalk (one full of big hair, dark tans, and fights galore).” Simon & Schuster’s Gallery will publish the novel in January 2011."

I spent the next several minutes trying to find out which agent plucked her from the shit pile, er, slush pile. No luck.

I wonder if it's the same one who rejected my query and first 50 pages in less than four minutes?

Sigh. I think I'm going to spend the next few days looking into plumbing school.


  1. The only reason she got a book deal is because she's "famous." It had absolutely nothing to do with talent. She's already got a fanbase that will buy her crap merely because her name is on it. And it will probably be written well because no publishing company in their right mind would let her stuff through without major editorial overhaul.

    I wouldn't be depressed. She's not the first celebrity to "write a book."

  2. *WARNING!* Long comment ahead!
    It's not fair, I know. The truth is, though, that the poor girl will be yesterday's news before she blinks. And let's just hypothesize and say that despite the growing pile of rejections and internal angst, you keep at it. You write another couple of novels while you're shopping TDYDK. Someone is going to love your query. And even if TDYDK goes on sub and never gets picked up, by that point, you'll have an agent. You'll have paid the price. And that agent and you will sit down and work on plan B. And you'll work plan B until it is either successful or you move to plan C, and you keep going until you have your book deal, and people are squee-ing all over your blog because you will have EARNED it. And you will last longer because you will have learned along the way how to keep earning it.

    Snooki? Clueless. A weak little weasel being taken for a ride by the entertainment industry. Years of therapy will not solve what those amoral hacks are doing to this girl. But you are building muscles, muscles that will help you move through the torturous writing life with balance and health.

    Now put down that plunger and get to work! :)

  3. Funny as hell. I laughed out loud.

    I'll remember this at the end of the year when I'm deep in the shit pile, uh, uh, slush pile.

  4. This is another reason I'm grateful every day I abandoned cable television. I ditto above. If 'Snooki' had written a book and had never been in front of a camera, the book would never happen. It's far more likely she'll be telling someone else her story and that person will do the actual writing. I know someone who does that as supplemental income.

    Hm. I could use some supplemental income.

    As for queries, don't sweat it so much. As much as you hate it, this is going to take time. Yes, there's the odd lucky duck out there that strikes gold their first time out, but as someone said recently (I think at Dystel and Goderich) they make the news because it's RARE. It's not the norm.

    So, on we plod. Screw your head back on straight, suck it up, and walk it off. Finish that next book and start querying more. I'm not fucking around. I will make up a false email and sub FOR you if you don't balls up, buster.

    And yes, I said that for the world to see. I have no shame.

    I'm personally feeling a little better lately. An agent posted her states recently and of over 1200 received inquiries, they requested only a handful, and I'm one of them. Granted, I have to be better than the THOSE still, but at least I'm a contender, huh? Hope. That's all we need. Hang in there. It's going to happen for you.

  5. Snookie is NOT writing her OWN book. A smart person is writing it FOR her. And it's ONLY being published because she's a reality television celebrity. Like it or not, American's LOVE this kind of crap. [Myself included.] However, I get VERY annoyed when people become famous just for acting like idiots and then get book deals out of it.

    As for the plumber, obviously, he is a moron, that acts OVERLY alpha-male and probably to compensate for other *short* comings if you get my drift.

    Writing is one of the TOUGHEST jobs EVER. And it IS a REAL job.

  6. Hello my friend! It's been so long, I know.
    I actually had to break out my dinosaur of a laptop in order to comment on your blog.

    I enabled something on my computer that has screwed up my commenting abilities on certain blogs. I have no idea what I did and no clue how to fix it.

    Anyway, this crap irritates me too. That's always how it goes though, when you could care less about something it usually happens for you. AND, the fact that the media now a days portrays comeplete screw ups as the model to aspire to be like. It seems that the more f'ed up you are, the more famous you get.

    I don't know, it's getting crazier and carazier. Just keep writing.

    Miss the hell out of you and I'll keep this computer up until I can figure out what the hell I did to mine.

  7. Aha! By George I've got it. Back to my regular laptop. (and commenting).