There are a tonne of blog posts today as I have had to copy them over from my live journal. It’s easier to keep things in one place rather than having a thousand different links to a thousand different sites, so appologies for the huge amount of text.
13th Dec, 2011 at 10:33 AM
Several years ago, I finished my first novel. I was entirely too excited and basically sent it out to anyone and everyone. It was rejected. That’s fine, I thought, I’ve just got to be persistent. It was rejected by everyone! What I didn’t realise was that it doesn’t matter how good your book is, if you don’t present it properly, it won’t sell or even be read. Agents and Publishers have what they call ‘the slush pile’ basically it’s all the writing and manuscripts they never asked for or wanted. They get hundreds a day. Yours is of no more interest to them than anyone else’s. You probably get a grand total of five seconds before they actually read it and if it’s tatty, badly set out, full of spelling mistakes, etc etc it will be sent back with a standard rejection, not even having been read. That may seem unfair, but they have a lot to get through and really don’t have the time to be wasting on people who can’t even follow the submission guidelines (myself on several occassions)
Writing the book is the easy bit. I figured once it was done, there would be no end of Agents fighting each other for it, publishers offering me shedloads of money to publish it, book deals, movie franchises etc etc. It doesn’t happen. Ok, it might happen, but very, very rarely. And not to people like us. You need to essentially be famous before being published to stand any luck of getting anywhere without serious leg work. Do you think famous chefs and actors have to work for years to get their memoirs published? Nope, because they’re guarenteed sales. Agents approach them, not vice versa. They also generally have it ghost written. Ah the easy life.
I thought being an author would involve a lot more writing. Most it’s quieries, synopsis, editting, moaning about all the above and reading a thousand books on how to get published. Don’t give up, it’ll happen some day andwhen it does, can you put in a good word for me? ;p
11th Dec, 2011 at 6:03 PM
The first customer I served today not only swore at me, but threw a brochure in my direction. He basically didn’t know what he wanted and asked for the wrong thing. He stormed around, swearing and shouting before calming down, saying a brief ‘sorry’ (he wasn’t sorry!) and expecting me to help him.
A little while later a lady asked if we had customer toilets. I said that we didn’t. She asked to use the staff ones. I politely refused. She threatened to urinate on the floor if I didn’t let her.
Is it just coming into shops that makes people like this, or is everyone losing their manners and sense of decency? I don’t get paid much and work rubbish hours, I also only get one day off for xmas, and yet people think it’s ok to come into my place of work and take out their bad mood on us.
I have been called a b*tch, had people get in my face and threaten me, block my escape from them, back me into corners and all manner of awful things that they all think are acceptable. When was that ever acceptable? My colleagues have been groped, throttled, threatened and abused, but it’s ok, we work in a shop, that makes it acceptable.
I would never dream of speaking to people the way I get spoken to. It’s unreal. Manners cost nothing and make the world a nicer place for everyone, but some people have no idea of how to speak to other people. And it’s not always the people you expect it to be either. I had a man walk into my dept, swearing and yelling, but he was polite, friendly and kind to me. You then get men in business suits who are old enough to know better and would murder someone if they spoke to their daughter that way, thinking it’s ok to look down on me and talk to me like I’m stupid. Maybe I am for getting a job in retail in the first place, but we don’t all get to choose where we work. Trust me, if I had anywhere else to be, I’d be there.
So next time you go into a shop or restuarant, don’t be mean to the underpaid, overworked staff. They’re people too.
10th Dec, 2011 at 6:09 PM
Christmas; the season of good will to all men and the rest of that rubbish. But would you love Christmas so much if you’d been hearing xmas songs for 9 hours a day since October? Would you love it so much if you only got one day off instead of a week (or two, or three) Would you love it so much if you’d have trees, tinsel, lights and all that jazz shoved down your throat for at least two months?
I work in retail. I hate working in retail. Four years ago I worked in a department store that was notorious for starting xmas too early. The display went up and the stock was on sale in October. The staff pull an all nighter to do it (not that anyone wanted to buy the stuff for at least another month) and they play xmas songs from that day. Not just xmas songs. They play the original version, the Macy Gray version, the Annie Lennox version and then the foreign version. Over and over, all day, every day until Xmas.
If that doesn’t make you hate christmas, the queues will. It was the busiest place I have ever worked in my life for at least a month before, the queues go out the door, the customers are fed up from waiting, harrassed from shopping and in no mood to spread christmas cheer. In fact, they’re positively venomous. You haven’t seen stressed, angry or bleeped off until you’ve seen it over christmas. Plus to add to the fun, they had those god damned toys that sing xmas songs and dance. Try listening to 20 of those being set off at once all day. Not fun.
I don’t work there aymore thank the gods, but the new place isn’t much better, There’s no surprise or excitement because the build up has been going since October and you’re sick to the back teeth of it before December even starts. So forgive me if I’m a scrooge, but I’ve been forcefed this stuff for months. I also only get Christmas day off. That’s it. No new year’s, no boxing day, no Christmas eve, just Christmas. And they then act like we should be thankful for it! Urgh I hate retail.
This year will be a bit different though. For a start I’m a Vegan this Christmas. I’ll also be spending the day in church (if they don’t have a magic force field around it) helping feed homeless people. It’s probably the only good thing I’ll do this year. Besides, my other half gets to play Santa and is waaaaaaay too excited about it. 🙂
9th Dec, 2011 at 9:40 AM
Ok, so we all know to be a good writer, you have to write. It’s as simple as that. But, you also need to be reading a lot too. And not just in the genre that you are writing in, I’m talking everything; newspapers, novels, non fiction, anything with text in it essentially. Don’t have the time? Try audio books for the car or ipod, there are tonnes on itunes I think (I’ve neer done it myself) and it can be put on whilst you’re doing chores. As for recommendations, reading tastes are very personal, but if you’re looking at YA fiction, here are my favourites;
-The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins. Amasing books, couldn’t put them down.
– The Twilight Saga – Even if it’s not your thing, if you wantto write YA fiction, you should know about what has been successful and why.
– Battle Royale – I’m not sure if this counts as YA, but it is about teens. It’s pretty harrowing, but amasing all the same.
I’ve just finished reading ‘The Cause’ by Jane Mann, not YA, but an interesting novel about Animal Rights Activists. It was really well written, but I’ve never seen it advertised (I picked up my copy at the Animal Aid Christmas Fair)
8th Dec, 2011 at 9:58 AM
The very best part of a writing career are the rejections. I am being sarcastic. I have a drawer full of them, over 100 if I remember correctly. Most of them I didn’t even bother to read, they tend to be summed up in the first line with; ‘We’re sorry….’ After that it doesn’t really matter. They’re hardly going to send a letter that says; ‘We’re sorry you wrote such a great novel, we want to give you a £3,000,000 advance….’
Getting into writing is hard. And that is a serious understatement. Essentially, you have to alreayd be famous before an agent will take you on as they don’t want to take the risk of publishing you otherwise. If you are a celebrity, I don’t think it even matters what drivel you want to publish, you’re more likely to end up in print than an unknown, even if they’re writing the best novel ever written.
Essnetially you’re screwed before they even get to reading it.
Agents have a delightful term called;’ the slush pile’ The work you spent months/years working on means nothing to them. They have hundreds if not thousands of them a year and from that, won’t even publish 5%. You can stop yourself from even having a chance of being read by following these simple steps;
– Don’t read the agent’s submission guidelines. They were made for other people, not you. You can send it in however you like.
– Don’t check your spelling and grammar. The cover letter is the first thing they read, if it’s poorly written, your work won’t even get a look in.
– Don’t ensure it’s neat, polite and contains everything it needs to, after all, we can all afford to waste money on ink, paper, envelopes and postage.
All these tips will ensure that your work ends up in the recycling bin/sent back with a standard impersonal reply. Eventually, you’ll have so many rejections, you can paper your house or use them to wrap birthday/christmas presents.
Sarcasm aside, you have to have a sense of humour about it. EVERYONE gets rejections. Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, etc etc ad infinitum. It happens and a lot of them time it’s not even down to your writing. Yor subject matter might not be ‘what is in’ or their lists are full. Don’t give up! Each rejection is someone missing out of the amasing gift of representing you! Determination is a key ingredient with being a writer, so read the rejection, but then shove it in a drawer and forget about it. x
7th Dec, 2011 at 8:48 PM
An addition to my earlier post, another thing about support, or relationships in general; it takes a real man to go see a Twilight movie, it really does. My darling partner has no interest in the series at all, but still battled his way through it because he knew I wanted to see it. He was one of two men there and it was evident they had both been forced to go by their girlfriends. The film itself was ok, but I was just so impressed at how well he tolerated it, didn’t moan or whine (like I probably would have) or hold it against me afterwards. He asked me questions about it and started talking about the story etc so I could gush if I wanted to. I am possibly the luckiest girl in the world (yes I know, vomit inducing!) xx
7th Dec, 2011 at 12:07 PM
There is one thing, aside from paper, a laptop, stationary and all the other junk, that a writer needs. It’s utterly essential. Support from friends and family. It’s a lonely profession and there are so many people vying for attention to get published that we all have days where we want to ditch it and find something else to do, we’re running on our egos and there are only so many rejections one person can take (I have at least 100) but the one thing that helps you get back to it is the support of someone who knows you. They may not have a clue about the literary world, but they’re at the side lines cheering you on all the way.
My other half is the most supportive, loving, caring, generous person I have had the pleasure of meeting in my life. He cooks to give me more time to write, doesn’t get mad when I spend hours in front of my laptop and always shows an interest in everything I do.
My ex on the other hand was his polar opposite. Just sitting at my laptop was a huge deal and wasn’t acceptable as far as he was concerned. He offered no support, begrudged me stamps, ink cartridges and paper (though he was allowed to drink!) and made no secret of his lack of interest. He frequently told me to give up and do something else (something that would involve giving him more attention) That’s not what anyone needs.
Even if I’m wasting my time writing, I enjoy it. I love it, I rarely have a choice in the matter as I HAVE to write, and to have a loving boyfriend waiting in the wings to cuddle you when you get a rejection, or ask what you’re writing about and not look bored even though you’ve been babbling about it for hours, is the most important tool a writer can have.
So all you budding authors out there, if your partner doesn’t get it or tries to make you stop doing what you love, ditch them! Everyone deserves to be loved and supported unconditionally.
I will leave you with my favourite quote of Marilyn Monroe;
“I’m selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle. But if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best.”
6th Dec, 2011 at 2:41 PM
I’ve achieved nothing in the way of writing today, but have built a website so should probably cut myself some slack. I’ve also set up a facebook account to link everything to so it’s not been a total loss. Gotta go finish up the site, so not much to say today, too busy!
Write about what you know 5th Dec, 2011 at 4:57 PM
My English teacher once gave me this genius piece of advice when we were to submit a Sci-Fi story in the style of Ray Bradbury. Surely that is completely at odds with itself? Sci-Fi is something that no one knows. It’s the future, the unknown, what may be.
Admittedly I didn’t listen to a lot of what Ms. Greenburgh said, it didn’t help that she made no secret of disliking me strongly and predicting an E for my A-level and that was only ‘If I worked very, very hard’ Nice. That’s teacher encouragement for you.
I don’t remember many teachers that actually made English appealling. They chose boring poetry that had no relevance to teenagers and novels that were dull. Regardless of whether they are classics or not, Far from the Madding Crowd is of no interest to tennagers. Pride and Prejudice on the other hand….
My class didn’t study this and that annoyed me because I knew for a fact the other class got to watch the BBC adaptation with the beautiful Colin Firth in. When I studied English in a teaching degree at uni, I made no attempt to read it, I just watched the BBC version over and over. It was close enough right? I think I read one page of the novel and gave up. It was hard work and no one writes like that anymore.
Do we think Twilight will ever be a studied text at GCSE or A-Level? I doubt it some how, but why not? ANYTHING that gives people passion for the subject should be embraced. Harry Potter is one of the most loved series ever, stick that on the syllabus and people will be handing in well thought out essays and theories.
I hated English and I’m suffering for it now. I have no idea about important things such as sentence construction or the different between the active and passive voice (I can generally guess it pretty well) but it’s too easy to blame my teachers. The subject wasn’t presented in a way that kids or teens would get involved in. I found it all torturous and painful apart from creatuve writing or any day we got to write something ourselves. I don’t care how Seamus Healy constructed his poetry, I wanted to write my own, and the way in which they forced that stuff down our throats made me want to never read a classic again.
Rant over, kinda.
As for writing what you know…that is the biggest pile of rubbish I have ever heard. I’m sure Shakespeare never met witches or sprites but they turned up in his plays. Write what you want, the only rule is you have to believe it, because if you don’t, no one else will either. x