Monday, January 19, 2009

A rant of the writerly kind.

I feel the need to rant. Therefore, I shall commence ranting.

Today's rant is brought to you by:
  1. Those who think they understand the publishing industry, but don't.
  2. Those who apparently think I lack what it takes to make something of myself as a writer, in spite of the fact that they've never read a damn word I've written outside of an e-mail or a chat room.
Most of this comes from casual conversations, message boards, articles/pages/etc about writing. There seems to be this sentiment that becoming a successful author is something that "someone else" does. I'm really tired of being told that, in not so many words, I don't stand a chance of making it as a writer.

There's a very real possibility that I will get through life without writing God's Gift to Noveldom. I may very well never make it onto the New York Times Bestseller List, and I may never get nominated for an award that anyone's heard of. Hell, I may never get published at all. I have no illusions that the odds of making it big - making it at all - are even remotely stacked in my favor.

However, I won't know until the day I die.

The rest of the world, apparently, has already decided that I am doomed to a career in futility, a resume' that's marginally more exciting than dryer lint, and a name that's forgotten as soon as the ink is dry on my publishing contract - assuming I ever get a publishing contract. Here are things that have actually been said to me in recent years, relating to my writerly aspirations: (People use all different authors as examples, so I'm going to condense them all into a collective pseudonym of Bestseller McBadass)
  1. "Yeah, but unless you're Bestseller McBadass or someone, you probably won't make any money."
  2. "You should self-publish. The big publishers only want people like Bestseller McBadass, so they probably won't give you a second look. You really can't expect them to publish you unless you're Bestseller McBadass."
  3. "Try writing more like Bestseller McBadass."
Here's the thing: I may never be as famous, rich, or published as Bestseller McB. The big publishers may never give me a second look.

But you know what? There was a time when Bestseller McB wasn't Bestseller McB either. JK Rowling wasn't the JK Rowling we all know and love until she wrote and sold the Harry Potter series. Stephen King wasn't a household name until his wife fished the discarded manuscript for Carrie out of the trash and kicked him in the butt to submit it.

Bottom line? Every Bestseller McB out there used to be an unpublished nobody. Every winner of every major prize in literature was once someone who hadn't won that prize, and was once someone who hadn't written anything worthy of seeing the light of day, let alone winning a prize.

I don't know if I'm good enough to become a bestseller or win a major (or even minor) prize. I don't know if I have what it takes to get published at all. The thing is, neither do you.

I'm going to keep writing. I'm going to keep submitting. When all is said and done, my efforts may very well have amounted to nothing of note for anyone but myself. But I can live with that. What I can't live with is being told that I won't make it because I'm not Bestseller McBadass.

Bestseller McBadass hasn't always been Bestseller McBadass either. They had to take the leap of faith to put their story to paper, and a publisher had to take a leap of faith that the words on that paper were worth publishing.

Being a successful author may very well be something that "someone else" does, but there is no reason for me to believe that I can't be that "someone else".

That is all.


  1. People who point out how greatly the odds are stacked against your chosen endeavor are the type of people destined for a life of mediocrity. It is all a matter of perspective, you can choose to see obstacles or challenges.

  2. Abso-fuckin'-lutely, misa101.

    Added to which, a lot of the time, badmouthing someone comes from a place of jealousy. You're further along the road to fulfilling your ambition than they are.

    Or perhaps it's the very fact you HAVE ambition that bugs them.

    Who was it who said, "The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation"?

    Those who are mediocre tend to slag off the tall poppies who want a better life, as we both know from recent experience.

    Why should you stay where you are and never strive for better? At least you're using your time to write, not bitch about folks who are more successful than you.

  3. All the people who fit into Category #2 can officially go suck it as of January 21, 2009.

    You should email me--I want to know what the offer was like!

  4. I love reading this more than two years later. Hope you've gotten a bunch of "neener, neener, neeners" in.

  5. haha, wow, I hadn't read this in a long time. It's definitely a trip to read it now! lol