A Gent's Outlook

A Literary Agent Divulges the TRUTH about Publishing

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Why I Hate Victoria…and Other Ruminations

As I have mentioned, I had the distinct pleasure of traveling a lot this past year, and particularly this summer. Back and forth between the coasts, grabbing a little vacation time here and there. One of those vacays took me on a visit to my friend in Canada, Victoria, B.C. to be exact, and though I had been there before, I was suddenly overcome by a distinct melancholy this time. It seemed so normal and pleasant. People there didn’t recognize me, and nobody bothered me. As my friend and I hung out, I realized that he gets to live this way all the time, while I live in a world where I am constantly dealing with other people’s fantasies and neediness and ambition and hopes and stupidity, and working with the movie people, it will only get worse. He isn’t a writer, and he laughs his ass off when I talk about my life in the biz. It’s different there somehow. More real. So now I hate Victoria and all its residents, who don’t have to deal with wannabes and get to be normal. It’s jealousy, plain and simple.

However, I love airports. I do. I love airports because I see all kinds of people just being who they are. You have to be yourself in an airport; the stress of flying, even if you enjoy it, brings out our real Id. If you are a lying pathetic bastard, you will be one on the airplane. A mousy little submissive wife will be a mousy little submissive airline passenger. A passionate ne’er-do-well agent will be a passionate ne’er-do-well first class passenger who smiles widely at pretty flight attendants who keep the liquor coming. A ridiculous, calculating wannabe writer will be a ridiculous, calculating airline passenger who tries to get ahead by putting out the least amount of effort and hoping for the most return.

Another reason I like airports is that they ground me. Not my flight, but me. I see all kinds of beautiful people, families even, where all the members are just beautiful. It reminds me how stupid people are to worship Brad and Angelina and Tom and Katie and all the other supposedly real “beautiful people.” The coverage of the births of their children was nauseating, as reporter, and I use the term loosely, after reporter kept talking about how genetically blessed their kids would be. And then at the airport, I see a family with a gorgeous mom, a handsome dad, and an incredibly adorable tyke. It takes away the sting of going to Victoria because I remember that Brad and Angie aren’t the best we can do. Seriously, I wouldn’t date blowjob lips if you paid me. Or girly boy, either. So, really, how did these two average-looking, average-talented, regular folks get promoted to the model for human perfection? You all know what I am going to say, don’t you? That’s right. I goddamn blame it on the…

WANNABES! The mediocre, mealy-mouth, mind-mushy wannabes.

You are the same people who elected George #2 because he represented, nay, is the epitome of, mediocrity being shoved into success (Lord knows he couldn’t have done it on his own). This is my own personal theory, but the people who voted for #2 were really voting for the grand illusion he represented: That anyone, truly, can be president, even those who don’t invest any time, effort, or money into becoming qualified. Joe Anybody wants to believe that one day he could be president, what with his BA in Mechanical Drain Clearing and his experience as Sunday school teacher, or that his cross-eyed, marginally-talented, semi-literate kid could grow up to be president even though he can’t name the three branches of government and forgot(?) to pay his taxes the last few years. A vote for #2 is a vote for the possibility that you might someday be important. The worst part is that these delusions are fueled not by a desire to help America be the best country it can be, but to become powerful and rich, either directly or indirectly.

Sound familiar, wannabes? It should. You can say that you write because you love it, but ultimately, unless you are handing your work out at the closest flop house without expecting anything in return but a whispered thanks, you are one of millions of people who are looking to become a glorified, overpaid, ego-heavy writah. So don’t get shitty when some guy who has paid thousands of dollars for training and worked for years in the bowels of some publishing house sifting through crap as an assistant editor gets his novel published while you’re still clawing at the underside of the mailroom floor.

The most recent bitch from the wannabe camp is that celebrities are getting published and taking all the open slots from them. How unfair! These celebrities haven’t done anything to deserve a publishing contract! All they have is a name! What about poor little me?

What about you, wannabe? Aren’t you the one out there going to the movies and buying these books? Worshipping celebrities and quasi-celebrities and making them a name brand? Why do publishers and movie executives, who base everything on the bottom line, want someone whose name will pull in money immediately and for a long period of time? Because you dumb fucks are out there buying their shit, that’s why! You’ve created the monsters who are honing in on your action. Who says Pam Anderson marrying Kid Rock is important? The people who buy the rags who show the pics of their wedding. Who says that the nobodies on the reality TV shows are important? The thousands of viewers who tune in to see who will screw whom and which cast member will get voted off. Who dictates that movie stars should get millions of dollars for pretending to be someone else? Not the producers, who would pay them $20 if they could, but the twits who go to see stupid movies with stupid actors and pay through the nose to do so. And who says Janet Jackson’s got a hot body, even though she has boy hips? The idiots that don’t look past the titty-job.

And that, dammit, is why I hate Victoria.

PS Sorry that this is not my typical fare, but it's been a long, hot summer.

Friday, August 04, 2006

And Now, For the Rest of the Story…

People keep asking me why I keep mentioning Snark and her group of wannabe wannabes (and in case you don’t know of whom I speak, dear wannabes, check out her site for her incestuous publishing family tree). No, I don't need the attention, thank you. I'm sure my fans would continue to send death threats whether I mention Snark or not.

There's one reason mainly, and here it is: I don’t intend to let anyone forget for one minute that the people in this business who say they are helping writers and say that they care about writers are usually the biggest scammers in the universe. Perhaps I am wrong; however, every time I mention Snark or her watchpuppy or editor buddies (I am dropping clues here, by the way), it is a reminder that if any of them use their ill-gotten celebrity to get a book deal (or in some cases, ANOTHER book deal), they will, in the words of Ricky Ricardo, have a whole lot of ‘splainin to do. And that would be to you, wannabes.

Of course, some writers will never figure it out, and will continue to drool at the foot of their crumbling pedestals. But others will realize that all along they have been the victims of the biggest scam of all, and the prize isn’t money—although indirectly it is—but celebrity and the power it brings. I never trust people who say they are there to “help” people who should be able to help themselves. If a watchpuppy, for example, turned in his leash and collar and decided to help writers with no arms by typing for them, fine, that’s altruistic. However, when people tell writers things they should already know if they were actually qualified to write professionally, or when people tell writers that which should be COMMON SENSE in any business endeavor, then that’s solicitous bullshit, and the next thing to come out of that bull is usually a book.

Now, why should you care? Because the biggest bitch writers have is that they can’t break in to the field. There’s only so much room, and guess who’s taking up the slots that should be reserved for the .0000001% of the wannabe population that might actually have talent? That’s right—editors, other writers who promote themselves through “helping” writers, agents, established writers, watchdogs, forum gurus, bloggers, etc. I can’t tell you how many editors I know who have written fiction and nonfiction—just look it up, wannabes, the facts are there—and how many writers’ advocates make a living off of…WANNABE WRITERS!!

Now most of the editors and agents I can say deserve the opportunity. They went to school, worked their way up the ranks in mostly shitty jobs, that kind of thing. Probably blew a few marketing guys on the way up, too. I can even say that journalists deserve a shot at the big time, too, because at least they decided they wanted to write early enough that they went to school for it, and no matter what anyone told them, they put themselves through school and earned shitty pay for years until their big break came along (and for some, it hasn't and never will). But people who just set themselves up to build up an audience by getting writers to believe that their own motivation is noble make my balls ache.

The truth is, and I said this last year when I started this blog (happy anniversary to me!), that the reason wannabe writers can’t get “in” is because they should have started out wanting “in” and working toward that goal from the gitgo. If you just decided at mid-life that you wanted to write something because the muse bit your ass, but you don’t want to invest any time or money in following the path it takes to become a professional writer (the long arduous path), then you are a wannabe who will probably end up worshipping at the feet of those who are stepping on you on their way to the top.

Have a nice fucking day!

--Sammy