Author Topic: The Failed Novelist [MERGED]  (Read 19308 times)  

Offline Sarah Shaw

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Re: The Failed Novelist
« Reply #50 on: April 06, 2017, 01:22:58 AM »
Reading between the lines, it sounds like the author was naturally gifted and never had to deal with much rejection until her agent couldn't place her manuscript. If she won every creative writing prize at school and short story contests as an adult, of course it's going to sting when trad pub shuts the door in her face.

Dealing with failure is a skill we all have to learn. A lot of gifted children struggle with depression in their teens and early twenties when they lose their special-ness - because they built their identity around it, and without that, who are they?





So I have a lot of sympathy for her. But on the other hand, I could have done without the barbs aimed at other authors. It shows a level of bitterness that is maybe excessive.  :-X



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Re: The Failed Novelist
« Reply #51 on: April 06, 2017, 03:53:32 AM »
Quote
But, over several months, my manuscript was rejected for reasons that bewildered me . . .once because I was a woman

What??

Quote
I . . . avoid literary debuts by British female writers, which all seem so safe and samey.

Double whaaat???
« Last Edit: April 06, 2017, 03:57:29 AM by MonkishScribe »

Offline Will Edwards

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Re: The Failed Novelist
« Reply #52 on: April 06, 2017, 05:11:02 AM »
Well, it is a popular aphorism (at least in self help) that you can't fail unless you quit. I guess that's where the idea of being a 'quitter' came from. But then, from the same field, comes the notion that 'there is no failure, there is only feedback'. So you can take your choice, that person either failed or got some useful feeback.

Online GeneDoucette

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Re: The Failed Novelist
« Reply #53 on: April 06, 2017, 07:00:32 AM »
my first thought when I read this article (when it popped up on The Passive Voice) was, someone tell this poor author she can publish the book herself. Then i thought perhaps she knows about self-publishing but thinks it's 'beneath' her or somesuch thing, and I thought that because other pieces from The Guardian have been loudly negative towards indies. Then I felt less sympathetic.

Offline CMICHELLE

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Re: The Failed Novelist
« Reply #54 on: April 06, 2017, 07:16:44 AM »
I can understand her position. Not seeing progress is a Deby downer, and often times you feel like "what's the point."

In the end though, she needs quit if she's already thinking about it. We have enough writers as it is, she might as well make it easier for the rest of us to get our stories published.

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Offline Alan Petersen

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Re: The Failed Novelist
« Reply #55 on: April 06, 2017, 07:17:08 AM »
Nah. It's just the drama llama rearing its head.



Llama is going all Travis Bickle there... You talking to me?


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Offline Joshua Dalzelle

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Re: The Failed Novelist
« Reply #56 on: April 06, 2017, 07:51:54 AM »
If you're not able to cope with professional rejection and/or you've tied ALL your self-worth into this one thing then maybe the business isn't for you. I also get a whiff of entitlement as she talked about her "destiny" and her utter confusion and devastation when her very first project was rejected ... never mind that even just snagging an agent on a debut project as an unknown already puts her above most.


It may be uncharitable of me to judge based on an anonymous blog post but if you don't have the mental toughness to not fall apart when things don't go to some arbitrary plan you've concocted then you're in for a rough ride. A publisher will reject a manuscript as a strictly business decision... wait until you get eviscerated by a reviewer. Gotta have a thick skin and if you really, really want it dust yourself off and keep after it.   

Offline Dan C. Rinnert

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Re: The Failed Novelist
« Reply #57 on: April 06, 2017, 07:55:23 AM »
Is there a longer version of this article that I'm not seeing in my browser?  Because the story I see is 279 words long and doesn't seem to contain the amount of drama other people seem to be reading into it.

Where are all these insults supposedly hurled at other writers?  That she finds "literary debuts by British female writers" to be "safe and samey"?  That's her opinion and surely she has a right to it.  Also, she may be seeing those debuts on certain lists and the books might possibly be much alike because of the particular target audience.

Or is the insult that she doesn't want to hear about people writing a book, that she wants them to "please shut up about it'?  Pick up just about any book marketing guide and the first thing it will tell you is that nobody cares about your stupid book.

Also, I think people may be reading too much into her referring to her second book as her "masterpiece."  She didn't say it was *a* masterpiece; she clearly called it "my masterpiece."  That's all.  I think of In Search of the Legendary Phineas Ray as my masterpiece (so far), but that doesn't mean that I think it's bestest book ever written or anything like that.  And I certainly hope it's not the best book I will ever write.  But, at this point, in my opinion, that's my masterpiece.  (Well, unless I count a short story I published years ago . . .)

She wrote how she was feeling and, in response, there are basically people telling her she doesn't have a right to feel that way.  You feel how you feel.
       
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Offline SC

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Re: The Failed Novelist
« Reply #58 on: April 06, 2017, 08:28:18 AM »
So, I really hope she is able to reclaim that passion and desire for herself, because every author deserves an audience.

No, we don't. We really don't. Not a single one of us deserves the time and attention and money of other people just because we've written some words down. It's that entitled attitude which has probably contributed in large part to the Anonymous poster's bitterness.

Offline Mari Oliver

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Re: The Failed Novelist
« Reply #59 on: April 06, 2017, 08:34:50 AM »
Reading between the lines, it sounds like the author was naturally gifted and never had to deal with much rejection until her agent couldn't place her manuscript. If she won every creative writing prize at school and short story contests as an adult, of course it's going to sting when trad pub shuts the door in her face.
This is the same thought I had when first reading the piece. Welcome to the wonderful world of being an author. Heh.


Online Douglas Milewski

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Re: The Failed Novelist
« Reply #60 on: April 06, 2017, 08:42:06 AM »
I don't like the idea of kicking somebody who gives up. I rank "don't give up" as some of the worst advice ever. Giving up is the exact thing that lets you step back and reorganize. Keeping your face in the meat grinder because someone else says "don't give up" seems like a bad idea.

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Offline Betsy the Quilter

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Re: The Failed Novelist
« Reply #61 on: April 06, 2017, 08:49:30 AM »
Is there a longer version of this article that I'm not seeing in my browser?  Because the story I see is 279 words long and doesn't seem to contain the amount of drama other people seem to be reading into it.

Agree, Dan...it's just a short vent by someone who had a disappointment.  Members vent here all the time.  :D. Maybe I should invite her to join KBoards... ;D ;)

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Offline Mari Oliver

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Re: The Failed Novelist
« Reply #62 on: April 06, 2017, 08:54:18 AM »
No, we don't. We really don't. Not a single one of us deserves the time and attention and money of other people just because we've written some words down. It's that entitled attitude which has probably contributed in large part to the Anonymous poster's bitterness.
Entitled? Um...I don't understand why that choice of word. If a writer is working hard to gain an audience, then I don't see the brutality in saying they don't deserve to be read. Of course it has to be worked for...like anything else in life.

EDIT: Well, to expand, from the few folks I've met trying to get traditionally published, it seems that they don't so much get feedback as just a straight out rejection. When I queried, I think one of the letters gave me a bit more information as to why the ms had been rejected. So, how are authors supposed to truly understand why they're getting rejected if they are not also seeking feedback outside of the system? Any writer serious about their craft will get feedback from writing partners, beta readers, editors, etc. If this author didn't do any of that, then she'd be somewhat in the dark as to why her manuscripts weren't working, right?

So, encouragement is good and that can come from positive and constructive feedback. And that's what I meant about every author deserving to be read. The chance to understand what you're doing right and what needs some extra attention. Everyone deserves encouragement in anything in life. If she hasn't been getting feedback, then she isn't also getting encouragement. Just a thought. :)
« Last Edit: April 06, 2017, 09:06:09 AM by Mari Oliver »

Offline SC

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Re: The Failed Novelist
« Reply #63 on: April 06, 2017, 09:17:47 AM »
Entitled? Um...I don't understand why that choice of word. If a writer is working hard to gain an audience, then I don't see the brutality in saying they don't deserve to be read. Of course it has to be worked for...like anything else in life.

Working hard for something also doesn't mean you deserve it. Not when the thing that is being worked for involves other people and their free will. That's the kind of thinking that would say that stalkers deserve the romantic attention of the person they're stalking because they work so hard for it and they put so much time into it and they want it so much. You don't "deserve" their attention/time/money. You can try to earn it, but it has to be freely given, regardless of what you may or may not do to "deserve" it.

As to the choice of my word "entitled", let's look at some definitions.

You used "deserve". That means (according to dictionary.com): to merit, be qualified for, or have a claim to (reward, assistance, punishment, etc.) because of actions, qualities, or situation:

Here's the definition of "entitle": "to give (a person or thing) a title, right, or claim to something; furnish with grounds for laying claim". "Entitle" is a verb, so when we talk about an entitled attitude, we mean that someone either has or feels like they have been given a claim to something. Which is the same as "deserve".

The only real difference in our word choice is that people tend to think of "deserving" as being a positive thing because it implies they actually do have a claim to something whereas saying someone "feels entitled" is only pointing out that they don't actually have a claim to that thing but only feel like they do (and so has a negative connotation, since most people instinctively know that feeling like you have a right to something that you don't is a bad thing).

So, when I say that her entitled feeling contributed to her bitterness, this is basically what I mean: She's put what she considers to be a great deal of time, effort, and mental/emotional work into writing a book. She, like you, feels that this effort entitles her (or causes her to deserve) the attention/recognition/time/money of others ("an audience" as you put it). She didn't get it. Therefore, in her mind, an injustice has been done against her because she was denied what she rightfully earned (again, in her mind, and this is the flaw in her thinking). Thus, she becomes angry about this injustice. The world refused to give her what she thought she'd earned, she is a wronged woman, and she had no real recourse for getting justice (because it's not like you can sue someone for not publishing your book), so all that negativity has just turned to bitterness inside her, and she's chosen to spew it forth for everyone to read.

And that's why thinking that you "deserve" an audience is a poisonous mindset for any author (or anyone, really) to have.

Offline Mari Oliver

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Re: The Failed Novelist
« Reply #64 on: April 06, 2017, 09:43:00 AM »
Shawna, your points are logical and while I agree with them, entitled is the last word I'd use to describe myself and I hope not to come across that way. But you're right, that line of thinking is definitely toxic.

Offline SC

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Re: The Failed Novelist
« Reply #65 on: April 06, 2017, 09:50:15 AM »
Shawna, your points are logical and while I agree with them, entitled is the last word I'd use to describe myself and I hope not to come across that way. But you're right, that line of thinking is definitely toxic.

No, I don't think you come across that way; I was basing my points entirely off of the writer of that Guardian article.

I think with things like this, it's better to talk about the attitude/mindset and the problems with such rather than to talk too specifically about an individual person. A person can, after all, change their attitude, so I was trying to point out the flaws with having an attitude of entitlement and using the Anon as an example of how it can lead to trouble moreso than pointing to the Anon and saying, "She's an awful person because she feels this way." I hope I put that all clearly enough.

Offline ShayneRutherford

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Re: The Failed Novelist
« Reply #66 on: April 06, 2017, 10:19:47 AM »
EDIT: Well, to expand, from the few folks I've met trying to get traditionally published, it seems that they don't so much get feedback as just a straight out rejection. When I queried, I think one of the letters gave me a bit more information as to why the ms had been rejected. So, how are authors supposed to truly understand why they're getting rejected if they are not also seeking feedback outside of the system? Any writer serious about their craft will get feedback from writing partners, beta readers, editors, etc. If this author didn't do any of that, then she'd be somewhat in the dark as to why her manuscripts weren't working, right?

The problem is, the reason a manuscript is rejected might have nothing to do with the quality of the writing. I used to work for a small press as a slush reader, so I got to see behind the scenes a little bit and gain a different perspective. The most important thing to keep in mind is that a publisher's decisions are all about business. Generally speaking, they make the choices that will make them the most money in the most efficient manner.

Sometimes, a manuscript might be rejected because we'd already accepted a story that was very similar to it and didn't have room for another one in the catalog. Sometimes a story was good, but the writer had a particular flaw in their writing that would have been too time-consuming to make editing it worth while. And sometimes a story would get rejected because the author came off as particularly entitled or above the rules in their cover letter, and the book was rejected because working with them would have been way more trouble than it was worth.
     

Offline Mercia McMahon

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Re: The Failed Novelist
« Reply #67 on: April 06, 2017, 11:31:48 AM »
There may be a specific British angle here. To get published it helps to go to a private school and attend a select group of universities especially the ones in Central London. Maybe she he had the silver spoon and the correct friends who became commissioning editors and still got rejected. Venting does her no harm as there is nothing in the article identify her, although it sounds like what you'd expect from a graduate of a Bloomsbury or neighbouring university. Only 7% of the UK population is privately educated, so most of us expect rejections or just ignore that route.


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Offline Shelley K

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Re: The Failed Novelist
« Reply #68 on: April 06, 2017, 11:59:07 AM »
my first thought when I read this article (when it popped up on The Passive Voice) was, someone tell this poor author she can publish the book herself. Then i thought perhaps she knows about self-publishing but thinks it's 'beneath' her or somesuch thing, and I thought that because other pieces from The Guardian have been loudly negative towards indies. Then I felt less sympathetic.

If she did it, she'd get a terrible cover and do zero marketing of herself, the book would be ranked 300,000 in a month, and she'd whine about how self-publishing is a terrible idea.

Offline SerenityEditing

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Re: The Failed Novelist
« Reply #69 on: April 06, 2017, 12:11:42 PM »
WHY?!?!?!! WHY? Seriously...why? Because validation. It's the most ridiculous reason to throw away the chance at a career writing fiction.

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Offline Scott Pixello

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Re: The Failed Novelist
« Reply #70 on: April 07, 2017, 07:59:09 AM »
How many bands put out two songs and give up because no-one 'discovers' their talent? Or artists who only paint two pictures? Yes, novels take more time and energy but no-one is entitled to commercial success just because they have some talent. Besides, what constitutes 'success' is fairly subjective, somewhere between zero & J.K. Rowling.
What's that old cliche? 'If at first you don't succeed, try, try and then give up?' This site is full of people who have tried and are trying- I can't imagine this post will elicit much sympathy. Final point- with her attitude, I'm not sure that a career as a writer is really a great idea anyway. The days of huge advances and overnight breakthroughs are largely a thing of the past. The key quality writers need these days (more than ever) beyond talent, is stickability or sheer stubbornness and not to take 'No' for an answer.

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Offline Shelley K

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Re: The Failed Novelist
« Reply #71 on: April 07, 2017, 08:48:19 PM »
Ray Bradbury was a failed actor. Sometimes giving up one thing opens the door to something much better.

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Re: The Gaurdian: The Failed Novelist
« Reply #74 on: April 14, 2017, 06:26:06 PM »
I know there's a whole thread about this elsewhere, but that third article is gold. Thanks for posting it.


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