Criticism · Writing

Being Happy For Other Authors

A few things before I begin today:

1-I finished “House of Leaves” and it felt like coming out of an exquisitely-written nightmare. I emerged back into reality, blinking in the daylight, not sure how long I had been lost but very very pleased with the experience. Check it out if you like weird, experimental-style novels. Or horror/haunted houses. Or found-footage movies, because this was basically one of those in book form.

2-I am now reading “Red Rising” by Pierce Brown, and bloodydamn I am enjoying the ride so far. I usually prefer fantasy over sci-fi but I’m glad I slid out of my comfort-bubble for this one.

3-I finally got my new tattoo yesterday, so this post will be short. Right now it’s stiff and only a little sore, but it deeeefinitely isn’t happy about my using a keyboard. If you want to see it, check out my Instagram! I’m @eggsaladserra (linky-poo) It’s from Conan the Barbarian and it’s fucking rad and it healed my soul and now all I can think about is THE LAMENTATIONS OF THE WOMEN.

OKAY.

BEING HAPPY FOR OTHER AUTHORS: get on board or get the fuck out!

Here’s what I mean when I say the above. In pursuing writing as a career I have met many other aspiring authors, both at conferences and online. And some of them (quite a few, actually) have achieved their dreams of publication, whereas I have not (yet). It is easy to be bitter, easy to wail “WHY NOT ME?!?” And sometimes I do that, in the privacy of my own mind. Once in awhile I rant to one trusted person about it (sorry for making you my emotional garbage-dump, friend). But even when I indulge in these negative emotions, NONE of them are directed at other authors. I am  genuinely happy when I see other authors succeed, EVEN IF I don’t care for their book, EVEN IF I feel that my work is just as good. Why? Because *they didn’t choose to succeed*

I know that sounds weird. What I’m getting at, is: they went through the exact same process that I am. They had to get an agent, they had to go out on submission, they had to endure who-knows-how-many rejections. They have had the same ups and downs, the same heartache and anxiety as I have. Sure, there are some people who happen to be a friend of a friend of an editor, but even then, they didn’t build this system. They are only players in the game, as am I. Who am I to fault someone for landing on the perfect editor’s desk at exactly the right time? Every book succeeds for a different reason. You may read the latest best-seller and think it’s garbage, but chances are there are plenty of people who love it. An agent loved it. An editor loved it. This business is so fucking subjective it’s insane, but that’s just the way it is.

DON’T HATE THE PLAYER, HATE THE GAME <— awwww yeah, nothing like a good old beaten-to-death saying to start the morning off right

But fo’ real.

In my perfect sunshine-and-flowers special-snowflake world, we writers realize that we are all in this together, and instead of being mad at an author for their supposedly “undeserved” success, we think to ourselves, “Good for them!! I hope that can be me someday!” That’s what I try to do. Sure, there are authors I don’t particularly care for. But whether I like them or not, they did it. They got published. They are marketable. They have tapped into an audience and I have to give them kudos for that. I squeeze my sour-grapes into a jar, cork it up real tight, and chuck it out the window at a passing car. I can’t stop myself from being envious or disappointed or even hurt. But I CAN choose to get those negative emotions out of my brain as fast as possible. I can also choose to let those emotions fuel me like a divine rage and drive me to be better, reach farther.

By the way, this post applies to published, successful writers as well. I hate hate hate hate HATE that Stephen King dissed “Twilight” and “The Hunger Games” in an interview. I don’t give a fuck how  you feel about these books, THEY SUCCEEDED FOR A REASON. Yes, “Twilight” might be “tweenager porn,” as King called it, but you know what? I find it incredibly offensive when men try to tell women that their romance novels/erotica/whatever aren’t real literature and thus do not have value. What the fuck is “real literature” anyway?? People read for many different reasons, and that “tweenager porn” was probably incredibly meaningful to a lot of girls, hence why it did so well. Who are we to judge? I’m sure there are people who think horror novels aren’t “real literature,” MR. KING, so STEP OFF. This isn’t a contest about what is and isn’t “art” or “literature.” LET PEOPLE ENJOY THINGS. And yeah, you know what? He’s right. “The Hunger Games” is derivative. But a whooooole fuck-ton of teenagers who have never heard of Stephen King, or “The Running Man,” or “Battle Royale,” or Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” ate that shit up. And then they searched out other novels, because they read a book and they liked it, and they decided they needed more. Isn’t that the whole fucking point?

(To be clear, Stephen King is only one of many authors who have jumped aboard the let’s-shit-on-popular-stuff train. I don’t dislike him or anything, I’m just using him as an example)

We need to be happy for people who succeed in this business, because it is really, REALLY hard to succeed in this business. On the most basic, selfish level: how would you feel if you finally got published and were subjected to a bunch of trash talk about how you didn’t deserve it? You’d be hurt and angry, right? So please, don’t do it to other writers. We are supposed to be a tribe. We are in this together. Let’s raise each other up. When we get published, let’s help unpublished writers by being positive and encouraging. If we don’t like a book and are asked about it, let’s give a critique of the actual work instead of deciding that it has no value or brushing aside the many readers who loved it. Let us make it clear that this is OUR OPINION and not fact. This business doesn’t run on facts. It runs on gut feelings.

My gut feeling is that we are all awesome in our own unique ways, and some of us just end up finding an agent or editor that appreciates our brand of awesome faster than others.

And….I think that’s all I have to say about that! So much for a short post, right?

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