Is just that I would love
to be in a position where someone were paying me $25K for a book.
That's many times (like 25 or 8) times what I get for the anthologies I edit. When I break down the ones where I have to pay the authors, it's basically working for free. And that's all me, because given the choice to work on something or not, especially since I came to this with no credits, no degree, nada, I would do it all over again. But to someone like me, $25K may as well be half a million. Now, down the road my agent may hate me for saying I'd love $25K - and yes, I'd love more than that too, but still, from where I sit now, that'd be like winning the freaking writer's lottery. But you know what? At the end of the day, I can only focus on myself. Being jealous of someone else's work or deals or whatever furthers me in no way and I sometimes have to really hit myself on the head to remember that.
I do think, though, that the people I admire the most, whose work moves me and sucks me, are those who are about something more than just themselves. Not that it's an altruistic, selfless act, of course a book is a product like any other, there to be marketed and advertised and promoted to death, but there are people who are out there promoting more than just themselves. For some of us, as much ambition as we have, it IS about community. Well, I can only speak for myself - for me, it's about community, it's about collaboration on occasion. I love when I see my friends' bylines and books. I love being able to invite people to speak at my series. And all those writers whose work I think is brilliant (not a complete list) - Jeannette Walls, Lisa Carver, Tristan Taormino, Susie Bright, Lisa Palac, Lily Burana, Shar Rednour and Jackie Strano - to name just a few, I know for a fact that plenty of people have had their lives changed by their work. Just this week several people have mentioned that about these writers, and I know it myself. All of their work has impacted how I think and what I think good writing can do.
No doubt, writing is an utterly selfish act, which is why when my ex said I was "dating my writing," she was 100% correct. Now we're happily engaged and I'm trying to make book babies with my writing. I would never presume to say my writing is not purely selfish. At the same time, I am grateful when people get something out of it. It may not be exactly what I intended, and if I've learned anything, it's that every person reading a given piece of writing will take away something differently. I have to struggle, as a wise blogger friend told me, not to judge myself by others' perceptions of me, or my writing, good or bad.
My writing is
very much a part of my life, and vice versa. But to me, the writers I care about and whose work is lasting, are selling more than themselves and their story, even if they're selling an autobiography.
So it's not that I wish ill upon Opinionistas, it's just that the people I admire are ones who have a sense of something bigger, something broader than their little corner of the universe. I may be totally naive, and I've already proven I'm not exactly Miss Business Savvy, but I agree with Lindsay.
Now, I'm not one to romanticize the idea of the struggling artist, because of course having time, money and other resources often enables us to have the space to think. At the same time, I think that people are writers in their blood, who just have that thing that compels them to write and observe and obsess, are fairly bursting with ideas. That doesn't mean it's easy or simple, but that they ponder life beyond the surface. Which is why when I see a class that is designed to teach you how to write a nonfiction book proposal that sells, while a tiny part of me wants to take it, as that's what I am trying to do, a larger part is horrified at this first step:No idea? No problem! How to choose salable subject and concept.
Yes, you can totally sell a book that way, by just figuring out what you think is popular or what's "salable" or whatever. But...will it be a Glass Castle
or a Drugs Are Nice
or even a Bitter Is The New Black?
I read everything, I'm not saying everyone has to write "high" self-important nonsense, but there's something very crass and scheming to me about treating writing like a math problem, plugging in X for popularity and Y for marketability and solving for bestseller status. That may mean that I never do it, and I think it can be done in ways that are authentic, but I do think audiences can tell who's just out to make a quick buck and who actually has something to say that'll be interesting to more than their inner circle. I want to be that person, not to act like I'm so "deep," but because at a certain point, where's the line between doing what you love and having it "do" you? Maybe I've crossed it on occasion, and yes, not everything I've ever written or done has been my idea, but when I'm pondering how I want to move to the next level, I don't want it to be with someone else's idea. I want it to be my own, the book I feel I was "meant to write," if I can be so grand as to say that.
In the meantime, I'm just gonna keep doing what I've been doing, and see what happens and hope not just for my $25K or whatever, but to actually be able to form the words I've been struggling with, to make it all come together. That's a challenge that is solely my own, and some days I feel up to it and some days I don't. Part of what keeps me going is having so many wonderful writer friends who not only read and care about what I have to say, but have been there. And new friends/colleagues/interview subjects who totally inspire and dazzle me with their honest, insightfulness and talent, two of whom feature prominently in my next Voice
So that was actually my last 1,101 words, and it wasn't really about blogs, but after a very long week and work coming out of my ears, I had to get that out.
p.s. I think that one sentence on Opinionistas, one parenthetical actually, illustrates all of what I was trying to capture in this post quite succinctly. Next to her link to Clublife she writes "(the only blogger out there whose upcoming book I will actually buy)" - if that's something to be proud of, be my guest. I personally am looking forward to reading Stephanie Klein's book, Elizabeth Spiers's book, Dana Vachon's book, Anna Broadway's book, and Dawn Eden's book. (Please note: I didn't say these people are my best friends, clearly they're not, but I would by lying if I said I wasn't itching to read their work. I respect them even if I don't always agree with their views. I actually have no doubt that all five of these bloggers are going to write books that will have me locked away, biting my nails, swigging Diet Coke, and ignoring my phone - and possibly even email - to finish them. Opinionistas's book, not so much. I know some of these people are those some bloggers "love to hate," but I am not judging their books until I actually read them. Shocking, I know.) Speaking of blogger books, I got Wil Wheaton's Just a Geek
out of the library. To add to the piles of books all around my apartment that I use as a way of procrastinating. And they do quite a nice job of it, actually.