Friday, September 29, 2006

Industry News

I spent last weekend at the Ottawa RWA Chapter - Are You Sweet or Spicy? Conference. The whole weekend was targeted to those writers working to write series romance. It was a fantastic weekend. Well-run conference - the specific nature of the event made it I think even more helpful to those attending. There was a lot of relevant and clear information (which isn't always the kind of information you get when dealing with Harlequin - thier guidelines are VERY vauge) And this is what I learned in no particular order.

1. If you are trying to break in target one of the new lines (EVERLASTING, ROMANTIC SUSPENSE, NOCTURNE) they are always looking for inventory.

2. If you are trying to break in and those lines don't appeal to you try to target one of the lines that puts out six books a month - SUPERROMANCE, INTRIGUE, BLAZE. They are always looking for inventory.

3. Nocturne is dark. They aren't looking for Vampire hi-jinks.

4. Everlasting is looking for historical material mixed with contemporary. Think Suzanne Brockman's WWII stuff. This is a VERY romantic line.

5. The difference between Romantic Suspense and Intrigue is - Intrigue is very hero focused. Women or Child in Jeopardy stuff but the hero does the saving. Romantic Suspense if for some of those kick-ass heroines.


7. Brenda Chin gave an interesting analysis of how hooks are used in the lines. For instance if you have a secret baby in a Blaze it means - the hero and heroine have done it once - you know they'll do it again. In an Intrigue you know that baby is going to be in jeopardy. There were more that I can't remember.

8. The editors find out what is said about them on the loops and they track it down. Brenda Chin said directly to the whole room - if you are an idiot on the loops or are difficult to work with and she knows about it - she won't buy your book.

9. Small conferences are the way to go. Intimate. Informative. Not over-whelming. Everytime I go to a small conference I am reminded of how great they are.

10. Gayle Wilson, President of RWA is a class act and a lovely lady.

That's it for the most part - hopefully others who attended might chime in with mroe info.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The whole chick lit debate

Okay, this topic is way too big (not to mention political) for me to delve into deeply here, but a fabulously funny cartoon done by Patricia Storms, (check it out), and a “roundtable discussion” by some of the contributors to the mean-spirited anthology THIS IS NOT CHICK LIT inspired me to say a few words.

First, I love many kinds of fiction. I know lots of people who only like reading in one genre. I'm not one of those people. I like the sort of books Oprah picks. I don’t mind if books are depressing. I don't mind if they're joyous. I don’t mind the main character’s not someone I’d like to know. I’m okay with happy or sad endings. I love endings that surprise me, but I also like ones I see coming from the first page, but are satisfying nonetheless. I like to read for lots and lots of reasons and sometimes just to be entertained.

The assertion that humourous, fast-paced books aren’t well written or aren’t to be taken seriously, or are less worthy simply because they don’t choose to tackle tricky topics, has always been a major irritant of mine. Some entertaining fast-paced books do tackle tricky subjects and I would claim that authors who can tackle meaty subjects and still make their books entertaining are far more talented than ones who create weighty tomes difficult to slog through. But that sounds too judgmental and that was not my intent.

Related to this irritant is the lack of attention given to women’s books by the publishing industry, reviewers, etc. Yes, there are some very well respected female authors in the literary world, yes we’ve come a long way baby, but still a HUGE percentage of all books reviewed by the major papers and trade publications are written by men.

This makes no sense. More books are written by women. More books are read by women. But most books written by women for women get no respect. What gives?

This is obviously not something I’m going to solve here today, nor am I going to try to. Others have already written eloquent essays on the topic—Lauren Baratz-Logsted, Jennifer Weiner and Shanna Swendson to name a few—but one thing said by one of the THIS IS NOT authors really ticked me off. (Lots of things did, but this one is small and easy to tackle.) She said that to call Jane Austen’s books chick lit was ridiculous because the term hadn’t even been invented yet then.

HUH??? She couldn’t have missed the point any further if she’d closed her eyes and spun before shooting off her mouth.

The point being made by suggesting Jane Austen was a chick lit author, is to assert that if she’d written those same books today, tackling the same socio-political and moral subjects, with the same plots, they would’ve been given hot pink covers and marketed as chick lit. (Or possibly romance. I’m not going to quibble on that one, but the heroine-centric nature of her books make them more chick lit than romance, to me.) The point is, PRIDE AND PREJUDICE would NOT be marketed as literary fiction today (if it even was then, I doubt it). It’s straightforward (very good) storytelling style is too simplistic. It’s too light, too funny—not heavy enough. No one gets raped. No one’s in rehab. No one was molested as a child. IT HAS A HAPPY ENDING! (Horrors)

I’ve never been a fan of the term chick-lit, but it’s not the authors’ fault that the industry coined this term and started to paint most non-romance fiction written by women for women with a bright-pink, chick-lit brush. Chick lit authors are just trying to write books women enjoy reading, that they enjoy reading, that they enjoy writing. The THIS IS NOT anthology contributors aimed their vitriol in the wrong direction, in my opinion. They should have criticized the industry for coining the phrase and further ghettoizing women’s fiction, rather than trying to claim they were superior to the authors whose books happen to be labeled as chick lit.
If you want to try one of the anthologies, try this one instead.

Monday, September 25, 2006


Like Molly, I love to hear about each writer’s process. Especially the pre-writing stage, because I think here is where you can see the most variations.

Personally, I’ve played around with stage lately. The one thing that does not vary is what I call the percolation stage… where I mull the idea around in my head, play with the characters, and figure out some key scenes. All without writing a word down.

I create images in my head, conversations, some of which will make it into the book, some won’t. I usually do this while I’m finishing the previous book. This makes me a little schizophrenic, but I can’t help myself.

Once this is done, I’ll sketch out a rough outline of the characters, the plot, the major turning points, and the ending. I have to know the ending.

I’ve even tried detailing the book out scene by scene, with mixed results. A lot of the scenes changed during the first draft, so I’m not sure this helped me at all.

As I figure out my overall process, I know pre-planning is one of my favourite parts of the writing process. I also know it’s something I need to get better at. I keep thinking if I prefect this part, I can soften the pain of editing, or at least cut back on a draft or two.

I’d love to hear about other people’s pre-writing process and what they use that helps them write a better, cleaner first draft of a book.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

How everything is subjective…and timing

The one thing I keep forgetting is how crazy subjective this whole thing is. I’m talking right now from a reader’s perspective. I’ll read a book, get three pages in and wonder how the hell did this ever get published? (not naming any titles here)

Some of these books I picked up myself, others were given to me with hearty recommendations. So other people obviously loved them.

It’s all a reminder of how weirdly subjective this business is. I’ve seen it in the rejections of my critique partners. Books I’ve loved, (am I do try and be subjective myself) and can’t understand how an editor wouldn’t.. (maureen’s rejections come to mind on this one)

But we’re dealing with personal taste or whether or not someone is having a bad day or they hate women under size 2, or they don’t like feisty heroines, or blonde heroes, you catch my drift.

It reminds me of that old saying, you can’t please all the people all the time… we just need to please the right person on the right day… which is partly talent, and partly luck.

Initially a hard concept for me to wrap my head around. Now it really helps take the sting out of rejections and lets me keep moving forward…

But the timing thing…. Well that’s a little easier. If something is trending well, when then editors are actively looking for that type of book. And if you’re lucky enough to write that type of book, chances are you’ll get read faster, and possibly with a more favourable bent…. But, say if you’re trying to sell a straight regency right now… the book would have to be nothing short of phenomenal…

Timing can sometimes be a sucky, sucky thing

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Suspension of Disbelief

Every time we sit down to write, we ask readers to come on a ride with us, to suspend their disbelief and get sucked into our world and our characters and to believe for 300 plus pages that the characters we’ve created are real people taking real actions and feeling real emotions.

One could argue the further one strays from “reality” the more we ask the reader to suspend his/her disbelief, but I think this is debatable and not really what I wanted to talk about. :-) (Maybe a discussion for another time?) That said, I have been thinking about suspended disbelief a lot lately, primarily because I’m working on a book that does require more than average amount of “suspension”.

What I did want to talk about is how fragile suspension can be and to hypothesize that when a writer makes a misstep in this area, they risk losing the reader/viewer completely. Scary.

A couple of things I’ve seen (not read) recently have made me ponder this more: The new season of Prison Break and a film that premiered at the Toronto Film Festival called Penelope. (tried to post a picture, but blogger not being nice to me tonight)

I’ll start with Penelope. Now, lots (most) people I talked to in festival lines who’d seen this movie LOVED it. Me? After loving the first half, I ended up decidedly lukewarm in the end. Because my opinion differed from so many others I chatted with, I tried to figure out why. (Exception was Zach Braff's dad, who I met in a line for another movie. He didn't like the movie either and for the exact same reason.)

Some background: Penelope is a fairy tale. It’s not meant to be taken literally. I get that. It’s about a girl who’s cursed. A girl with a pig snout for a nose. A pig snout which can’t be fixed via plastic surgery, because by some strange medical mystery, her carotid artery runs through it.

But are any of these elements what caused me to roll my eyes? No. It was a scene where the hero asks the heroine to guess which musical instrument he plays. Instead of the heroine simply guessing, there’s a cut and suddenly the hero has recruited a five piece jazz ensemble and tries each instrument in turn, while singing “Yes, sir, she’s my baby” wildly off key.

I get that this scene was supposed to show them starting to know and to like each other. I get that it was supposed to be comic relief. For me, it was just annoying (not to mention painful to listen to) and ridiculous – particularly since she could have just asked, “Flute? Guitar? Sax? Piano?” and have been done with it.

Why stage a silly contrived scene when a conversation will do?

This scene was the moment the filmmaker lost me. Every subsequent moment where any degree of suspended disbelief was required, I rolled my eyes. I was no longer sucked into the magical half-NY-half-London fairytale setting and instead was bemoaning the predictability of the outcome and comparing the movie’s theme to Shrek, a movie with a similar theme, but for which I had no problem suspending my disbelief.

Sigh. I don’t know when this film hits the theatres. I’ll be really interested to see what other people think.

On to the second season of Prison Break. I LOVED this show last year. LOVED it. But this season, particularly during the first couple of episodes, I had a lot of trouble believing in Michael’s plans. “Why?” I wondered. He’s still the same guy. Still as smart. Still as obsessive. His plans were wildly implausible last year, too. But I didn't care.

I decided it’s because there are too many variables outside the prison. When they were in the relatively contained environment, I could believe he had contingency plans worked out in case the main plan hit snags -- but that bridge, with that car, with those radio stations, with that handy-dandy pig blood? And how did he know the bridge wouldn't have been repaired since he took out the bolts ages ago. Give me a break. (No pun intended.)

I think this season might have been more interesting if, when things went wrong on the outside, Michael became useless and Lincoln had to solve all the problems.
I’m still willing to give it a few more episodes, but I think they may have already lost me.

Speaking of LOST. Still along for that ride even with all it’s implausible turns and dropped threads. I hope they don’t do anything this season to sink my suspended disbelief. There’s nothing I love more than getting sucked into some other writer’s world. (Except maybe creating my own.)

Sunday, September 17, 2006

How Do We Do What We Do?

I love talking about 'process.' Plotter, Pantser, Synopsis, Outline, Character Interviews, Music, No Music, Candles, Goat sacrifice...that one might just be me? How writers get words on paper and day by day get the work done - fascinates me.

And mine has undergone two major changes since I started writing.

I used to be a total write by the seat of my pants kind of writer. No outline, no synopsis, no real idea past happily ever after how things were going to end. I would just write all week and then on Sunday I would head down to whatever bagel shop was close to where ever I was living at the time and I'd edit. With, like most beginning writers, no clue how I was doing everything wrong. be so ignorant and happy with my writing. Those were the days.

During this time I also had a serious Free Cell addiction so I would allow myself one game before getting to work. I'd write most of the day on those days that I could - liberal amounts of Free Cell mixed in - my story blown this way and that by whatever whim took me that day.

Then I sold a book and everything changed. The first book that sold was the first in a series of three books. I had written most of the second by the time the first sold so I finished it and sent that in. Unbelievably my editor called and asked me for a synopsis of the third book so she could put together a two book contract.

A syn-what??
I overhauled my process and turned from a pantser to a devote plotter.
After that my process included a long synopsis - usually 10 -15 pages and then I'd write three chapters and revise the synopsis and then, of course, revise the first three chapters.

I edited as I went - getting to the point that I would have been through a second rewrite before I'd send scenes on to my critique group. I would begin each day of writing going over what I'd written the day before and doing some fairly extensive changes and then I'd do the same thing at the end of the day. I had a lot of time to write in those days.

Then I had a baby. And that changed EVERYTHING.
Now, I can't sit down to the computer without knowing exactly what I'm going to write. I can't go back and reread anything because it takes too much time. I work on a computer not hooked up to the internet and I've stopped listening to music.

So every day I sit down to the computer and vomit onto the screen and never every look back. I have no clue what I'm writing - if any of it is holding together or making sense. I'm told this is how a first draft usually goes by those that write this way (Sinead).

Am I liking this? Not yet. I certainly see the pluses - things are going FAST and the story feels incredibly immediate. But I feel so unplugged from my work and I look forward to reading it for myself.

So - tell me how you guys do what you do? Keep the goat's a secret if you want to.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Movie Orgies

I love movies. A lot. In fact, I’ve seen 33 movies in since 2:00 pm last Thursday and plan to see 9 more before I got to bed on Saturday... (And no Peter Saarsgard this year, Molly... Did sit across the aisle from Christian Bale a few nights ago, though... Actually, he was down the row a bit, but Jeremy Davies was right across the aisle from me. What a strange and interesting little man...)

Because of my movie obsession, picking one favourite movie is beyond difficult...

But I'm going to have to go with Robert Altman's SHORT CUTS. I'm a serious sucker for the interconnected storyline movie. I also loved Crash, Magnolia, Grand Canyon, Gosford Park, Nashville and even Love, Actually.

Sometimes loving a movie is about when you saw it, or who you saw it with, or what was going on in your life when you saw it... But I think my infatuation with SHORT CUTS is about the characters. No cookie-cutter stereotypes in that movie. Just fascinating, layered people with serious flaws, making interesting, unexpected and questionable choices.

Like Madeline Stowe's character's reaction to her philandering husband. Instead of lashing out, she makes a joking game out of hearing what ridiculous lie he comes up with next. Still she actually seems to love him. I loved the relationship between her and her sister, played by Julianne Moore, too, and the way they laughed at the Matthew Modine character, Julianne's husband, when he tried to be blasé about finding his sister-in-law nude in his living room. And the contrast between that scene and Modine’s actual blasé reaction to his wife being naked from the waist down in another scene. Her nudity had nothing to do with the scene, so some people might argue it was gratuitous, but the choice to have her be naked and not have it matter to the scene, said so much about their characters and the marriage.

I could go on and on about this movie, and I haven’t seen it in years… Must see it again. (Actually, I’m seeing a film tomorrow, JINDABYNE, that is taken from one of the Carver short stories adapted in SHORT CUTS – the one where they find a dead body.)

Has it affected my writing? Not 100% sure. I wish I could write all my characters with so many layers. Must try harder. I am attempting an interconnected storyline manuscript (it's had had a few false starts), and the manuscript that got me my agent has two interconnected timelines… so I guess I am carrying some of the love of this type of film into my writing.

I think filmmakers have a slight advantage over novelists with this structure, though. With the visuals, they can show you the characters and get you interested in a lot of different characters without resorting to tons of description and reminders. Not that it’s impossible in a novel, just harder, I think.

While I’m on the interconnecting soapbox, I saw BABEL this week. Very good. Believe it or not, Brad Pitt made me cry. The film’s not quite as powerful as 21 GRAMS, but great nonetheless.

My brain is too full of movies to think any more…

Some other festival highlights you should see when/if they open.

The Last King of Scotland
Rescue Dawn
Pan’s Labyrinth
For Your Consideration
Breaking and Entering

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Favorite Movie I totally forgot about and why I am angry with Maureen. Really angry.

Sinead has a good plan here -- open up a conversation that Maureen would really spend a long time thinking about and talking about as punishment for living the Toronto Film Festival. I was going to talk about my new love of the series Fire Fly -- but how our favorite movies reflect our writing is better.

My anger towards Maureen right now is due in large part to Peter Saarsgard. If Pete were going to leave his pregnant lover for one of us - Maureen has a distinct advantage because she's actually been in the same room as him. Sure five fantastic movies a day is great --but for me it all comes down to Peter Saarsgard.

Now. Movies.

My favorite dramas are Good Will Hunting and Field of Dreams (it's funny that Sinead and I are critique partners isn't it... I'm on the warm and fuzzy side of the spectrum - though when she dragged me to Aliens at the I-Max - it was pretty amazing anyway...) I think what I love about these films and how I try incorporate it into my writing is

1. I try not to get in the way of the storytelling. Those movies are great because there is not an inch of fat - there is not a scene that doesn't serve the might trinty of purpose - character development, forwarding the plot, revealing backstory or forshadowing the future.

2. I try to let the characters tell thier story. This really comes down to showing rather than telling. We know nothing of Will Hunting except what is shown to us -- he's a bad ass. Loyal. Smart. So when the big reveal of his past happens -- it's a gut churner because it's not something we've already had referenced -we've just seen hints and so by the time it shows up we're dying to know. As for Field of Dreams - we get that he's unorthodox in large part becuse of the behavior of his wife the fantastic Amy Madigan -- a man married to a woman who stands up at a PTA meeting and calls someone a Nazi Cow -- is likely to plow under his corn to build a baseball field because a voice told him to. At least I believed it.

I forgot one of my favorite movies. I visited my oldest friend in the world this weekend and as a suprise she had Clue for us to watch. CLUE! Hilarious movie! Which made me think the whole way home that comedy is so tough to write because it rests largely on the characters acting it out. Movies it works because Madeline Khan is one of the funniest women ever - but how do you write it in such a way that everyone can see it the same way you do without what's-his-name Curry or Will Farrell or Steve Correll to help you out. Tough.

Great topic Sinead. Stay away from Peter Maureen.

Monday, September 11, 2006

My favourite movie.

Movies are top of mind right now, because Maureen is at the Toronto film festival and I am teeth gnashingly jealous.

I love movies, find something interesting in almost everything I see, even the bad ones. (except the Big Lebowski, but why would take up too much room here.)

My favourite movie is Aliens, has been since I first saw it well over fourteen years ago. Some movies make an initial impact and fade with time and experience. Some grow on me on the second viewing. Aliens I loved from the first frame.

I know, it’s not the usual fav. But to me it’s got everything I love about storytelling. A kick ass, conflicted, multi-dimensional heroine, tension in spades and great villains. More the actual Aliens, than the Paul Reiser character.

I think that movie has influenced more of my storytelling than any other movie I’ve ever seen. I love the rich character dramas, the gorgeous historical epics, but a tightly plotted, suspenseful, edge of your seat movie will always be my favorite.

And Sigourney Weaver is amazing.. What more can I say?

It’s always interesting to find out what other people’s fav movies are and how their writing reflects it.

Friday, September 08, 2006

I screwed up….

More than once, but this time I’m referring to how I spent my time after my book got agented and sent out to publishers.

Here’s the thing. I sort of expected an answer within a few weeks. Well imagine me still waiting eight months later and having heard nothing.. Why is a whole other blog.

So, what did I spend those eight months doing? Playing around with the sequel to the book that had been submitted to publishers. Taking twice as long as it should have to write the first draft.

Getting more and more discouraged with each day that went by without word. It was actually almost heartening to get a rejection. At least I know it had been read.. or hoped it had been.

Had a great bout of DWT on Wed night. And Molly said something that made complete sense to me. While a book is being shopped, write something completely different.

I know, it sounds a little defeatist, a belief the first book will be rejected, but it was only when I tried to write something not at all connected to the shopped book that I felt energized again. Ready to really get my head into a story.

And it got me writing again at my usual pace.

There are a few hard things about this business, the rejections, the self-doubt, but for me, the hardest is the waiting..

The only way I can combat is to write something new and different.

Not sure why this is, but it’s my new method, rather than sitting on my butt and watching Survivor re-runs..

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Why do I judge contests?

Okay, there are plenty of reasons I judge contests and most of them good… But every time I sit down to actually judge contest entries, I end up grinding my teeth 99% of the time and regretting I volunteered to do it. WARNING: I just spent way too much of my long weekend judging contest entries, so I’m a little bitter.

I think what I find most difficult in judging is finding nice things to say. I do think (hope) I word my criticisms carefully and make lots of suggestions… but I do find it hard to say nice things about entries that just plain suck. Am I a mean bitch judge? Perhaps I am.

So, why do I do it?

  • To give something back. I learned a lot from judges in the first few contests I entered and hope some of these writers are learning from me.

  • To support my chapters. I judge for both of the RWA chapters I belong to… Doesn’t explain why I’ve volunteered for a few other contests run by other chapters, though.

  • To see what’s out there. The unpublished part of me wants to know what else is floating around in submission land. Used to depress me. Now it makes me feel good about myself. Hope that means my writing has gotten better. Maybe it just means I’m more deluded now.

  • To gain experience critiquing. Getting better at recognizing problems and getting to the core… Still have much to learn.

  • To learn about writing. I’ve had a few true light bulb moments writing comments to contest entrants. Moments where, when I’m trying to articulate what I think they could improve on, I realize something really huge about my own writing or writing in general. Don’t know if the recipients of these pearls of wisdom consider them as such. (They probably want me burned in effigy.) But judging contests has helped me clarify some things.

  • To make my own writing better. Even if I know something like, “don’t put back-story up front”. Sometimes, when I do it myself, I can come up with lots of excuses and rationalizations why it’s okay for me to break that “rule” in that particular case. But when I see something like that in six bad entries in a row… It helps me see how an objective reader would view my work and it pushes me to try harder.

  • Oh, and because I've been reading my CPs' work tonight in preparation for our weekly meeting, I've realized another reason I judge contests. To appreciate what fantastic writers my critique partners are. Seriously. I don’t know why we aren’t all published yet. We will be. Soon.

And, the final reason I do it?

Because I’m a masochist at heart.

Hey, LIGHTBULB MOMENT! That must be why I write, too.

Monday, September 04, 2006

RAGE and the Labor Day long weekend

I was going to write about the nature of reading because I finally managed to get involved in Jonathon Strange and Mr. Norell - Fabulous book that has been collecting dust by my bed because I have the attention span of a may fly. BUT. THEN. FROM OUT OF THE BLUE....

Backstory first...

Labor Day long weekend - a friend of our's is the director of a camp and the camp closes on Labor Day so he invites a group of friends up for the weekend. There are TONS of kids and lots of people who don't know each other but are grateful to get out of the city and watch thier children fight with other children.

You have some friend's from mother's groups, college friends, wives of friends of friends - it's a real mixed bag.

Anyway second night - I am in the process of gulping down my three glasses of wine before I pass out at 10 at night when the kids are all finally gone and the adults can really settle into drinking and making sort of awkward small talk. Discussion of what we do as jobs roll around and I as I always do say "I write trashy romance novels." Because honest to God - I do. They are trashy -- at least what I consider trashy. I write guilty pleasures and I am SO okay with this it's not even funny. In fact -- when converstions like this come up I always feel really good beause 7 out of 10 people WISH they could do this. Two out of ten people could never do it but used to read and love Harlequins or thier mother's did or grandmothers or some other nice association. The 1 out of ten people -- the snobs and jerks who really do look down on this singularly FABULOUS job I have - I actually have never met. Until this weekend. When I think I met about four of them.

Blah blah blah - what do you do - marketing...advertising...trashy romance novels...

And then at the end of the table a man I have never met (but who directs television commercials -- so noble) says "OH! I thought you wrote real books..."

Swear to GOD the air in the room turned to cement. I said "ouch" or something like that and a few friends jumped to my defense and said they are wonderful romance novels and in the end I made some joke and we all laughed and the guy could not make eye contact with me again and his wife said that she'd suggesst my book for thier next book club and I could barely speak for all the anger. I am finally at a point where I make money from my writing. I don't have to go back to work. I have FUN every day doing what I do. But I didn't say any of that.

That was last night and I still am so mad. But I think what I am most mad about is how I couldn't or didn't defend myself and what I do. What I seriously LOVE. Granted I hate confrontation - but what should I have said? Honestly, what zinger could I have zapped him with that would make me feel better?

Romance authors always talk about running into this attitude and I certainly know it's out there - but I have always felt pretty vindicated by the huge chunk of book sales romance constitutes. I have always felt vindicated by the fact that I do not know a single woman who has not read at least one romance novel and truly loved it. And the fact that most people in the world hate thier jobs and wish they could stay at home and work in thier underware making shit up - and I actually get to do that -- that makes me feel pretty good too.

So, why am I still so bugged?
Am I not as in love with my genre as I thought? Am I secretly embarrassed? Or am I just mad that a television commercial director looks down his nose at what I do?


Friday, September 01, 2006

I don’t get why people are so bitchy on the loops.. and the Big Lebowski

Ha! I managed to get the word bitch into the first line.

I belong to a couple of writer’s loops, mostly as a lurker. If I have something useful to add I’ll pop in, but on my loops, there are other, smarter people there ready to answer the questions posed.

I find my loops informative, and for the most part, friendly..

For the most part… but then there are the touchy people. The ones who leap to offense at the smallest inference.

One big long discussion on one of my loops was about E-Publishing, a hot button topic for sure. People whined, moaned, verbally stomped their feet because their E-publishers weren’t RWA recognized. They threatened to leave RWA, they ranted on and on about how their publishers were twice as good as the snotty New York publishers.

A couple of people attempted to explain, or in some cases, disagreed. In my opinion, their statements were reasonable and very general.
The furor that erupted. The many, many posts(in all fairness, from the same five or six people) who leapt down those women’s throats. Attacks that were personal, nasty - in a word - bitchy.
So much for that discussion. No one else after that would have posted, why bother?

Or the loop where half the executive left because of one post, that from what I understand, was mis-read.

Or the loop where people have actually referred to each other as stupid. But then they’ve also called agents and editors stupid as well.

Sheesh… People’s names are at the bottom of these posts. Anyone can read this stuff. I know there are a few women who’ve posted on my loops that I’d make a point of avoiding if I saw them at a conference.
If I feel this way, what about the editors and agents who might be reading these loops?

The loops can be great, informative, helpful and a nice pick me up when we need reassurance or advice. If everyone on there is using them for that reason, and not to air grievances, or their frustrations.

But hey, I’m saving my energy for my family, and my writing, and my day job. There’s not a lot left of energy left over to take offense at what someone I’ve never met - or ever will - said.

As for the Big Lebowski. It’s up there as one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen. Why? Because it bored me to tears, went nowhere, didn’t even try and pretend there was a semblance of a plot. I didn’t get the charming quirkiness of the characters, I just found them annoying and pointless… and I know there are lots of people out there who disagree and I’m OK with that..
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