English: Drawing of Marie de Lorraine as the Duchess of Valentinois. She wears a ball gown (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I’ve heard people talk about sharing their writing, how it feels/can feel like being naked. Not me. I don’t feel exposed when I share my work. Not to say I’m always completely confident, it’s like getting dressed and made up for an evening out–I think I look good, but I’m still hoping for some validation from whoever I go out with/run into. Cause there’s nothing worse than thinking you’ve got your game face on, and you run into someone in the lobby who asks if you’ve been ill. Because yes, that’s when I’m most likely to make the effort, when I feel the worst, physically or emotionally. That or I haven’t done laundry.
But submitting, querying…that’s a different story. At first I thought this end was more like working the pole, but no. Stripping may not be the most desirable way for every woman to earn a living, but it does earn dollars. This? Not a dime. I know, I know, I should have done this when my boobs were still in the same zip code as the rest of me. Living the dream, oh yes. The dream where you realize you’re standing in Times Square with no clothes on, not even a guitar to cover the saggy bits, a la The Naked Singing Cowboy.
Yah, yah, I’m not supposed to write these types of posts. Because for as much as you educate yourself about the business of publishing, follow agent and editor blogs and tweets about how things work, what their days are like, how many rejections they send daily (or don’t send, in these days of no response means no), the unpubbed and unagented are supposed to pretend we’re pure and innocent and virginal–just lucky enough or brilliant enough to know how to follow the rules or break the rules in a way that works, and haven’t received any rejections from anyone else. No matter how many times you read or hear publishing industry professionals talk about the many, many reasons they reject a work that often have nothing to do with with the quality of the writing, nope, those are the other wannabes. Not you, of course. Because, just like a wanton woman of yesteryear, no one’s going to want you/your work if someone else has already sampled the goods and didn’t like it enough to make a legally binding offer.
I’m a 40,000 year old woman with three children who are closer to grown than not. I think my days of playing the virgin are over. And Fringeland is about being honest, a blog to explore what it means to be downwardly mobile without being crushed by those climbing up.
Those stories you hear about people who receive an offer of rep and/or publication their first try? Their first dozen tries? Bullshit. Not saying they aren’t real, they are, but they are the exceptions, not the rule. I’d like to have been one of those stories, I’d like to be the mega lotto jackpot winner, but I’m not. The rules, the rules, all the rules passed on from wannabe to wannabe. The rules about how to interpret rejections, the nice and orderly progression from brusque form letters to nice form letters to personalized letters to invitations to submit more work to acceptance. Oh, the squeals of anticipation upon requests for fulls, personalized rejections, “you’re almost there!” Or not. I’ve been almost there since I started. Contracts in mirror are a fucking mirage, forget closer than they appear. The rules about the right way to query. Bullshit. There are wrong ways to go about querying, but no one right way. And hell, even amongst the wrong ways, there are stories of those who queried completely “wrong,” and still got an offer. C’mon now, there isn’t an agent or wannabe out there who hasn’t heard the story of the twelve year old kid who called the agent to query his book and got an offer. Not right then and there, and I don’t recommend calling agents’ offices when every US agent says not to do so, but obviously a phone call isn’t always the immediate and permanent never-to-be-published-blacklisted-forever-and-the-dystopia-beyond it’s portrayed to be. Does this mean I’m not smarter than a sixth grader?
I read broadly, across many genres. Yes, I have a special love for literary fiction, but I also love thrillers–political and psychological, some horror, contemporary, narrative non-fiction, and poetry. I read classics, and I read what’s being published today. Some books are so fabulous I want to swallow them so they’re permanently part of me, some are entertaining reads to pass an afternoon, and some, well, some I wonder what it is I’m missing that they were represented by an agent, championed by an editor, and published, a trade paperback I picked up for $14.00 off the shelf of the bookstore and wish I had instead tucked those dollars into someone’s g-string at the local Girlz Girlz Girlz. All my reading tells me something. I can write. Sharing manuscripts with writing friends (published and un, agented and un) and reading their feedback confirms I can write–if you don’t write, you’ll have to trust me here, no one is more adept at ripping apart a manuscript than others who write–feedback I’ve received from industry professionals tells me I don’t, after all, look sick when I think I look good.
Mrs Fringe hasn’t been innocent in a long time, if ever. But I’m still naked, and even though it’s July, it’s fucking cold outside.