Saturday, September 26, 2009

Condescending publishers and Freshers galore

Goodness me, but what an exhausting and severely draining day. Here's today's poem though, which I just had time for this morning:

Meditation 228

Offering money
for the gift of salvation

is lambasted
to oblivion

by the sainted
Peter and John

but has in fact
been in common use

for centuries since
in the church.

Really, the more I do these meditation poems, the more cynical I become, I fear. Church is all too debilitating these days. One wonders what it's all for.

Anyway, I've been severely peed off by some pesky small-time publisher who emailed me to say, in a very high-handed and condescending tone, how extremely hard to read The Gifting is but of course they were sure I would find someone to take it on one day. Ignorant t*****s. They're obviously unable to read words of more than one syllable anyway, so no wonder nobody's heard of them. And I would like to advise all publishers here and now that if they do reject a piece of work, then the sentence they need to send out is simply: Thank you, but this does not fit our lists. Really, that's all they need to say - any other ridiculous and ill-thought out statement is likely only to cause offence. And it keeps the syllables down to only one per word, which is surely doable for most of them ... One would hope.

For a large part of the day, I have been smiling and smiling like a villain while we greet Freshers onto campus and settle them into their rooms. Not a job for which I am remotely suited, but I think I managed to fool them into thinking I was a nice normal human being, rather than a severely pissed-off furious and failing would-be fantasy writer whose books no publisher will apparently touch with a proverbial bargepole. Whilst sending snippety emails and putting the boot in at the same time. And on the whole my smile remained mostly on. Which is a bloody miracle indeed.

But, Lordy, our new students think they've got problems. Really, they have no idea how very lucky they are - must be great to be at the very beginning of one's career and have it still all to play for. Rather than being somewhere in the middle of life, with mid-life droop and have really not much to play for at all - and what little there is, so few people seem to actually want. Which is what it feels like, precisely here and precisely now. I can guarantee to you that in twenty years' time, I'll still be in the same literary position I am in today: that is, struggling along at the bottom, being told by well-meaning and of course totally lovely people that I have to keep going, but selling no more than 50-100 or so copies of each book (not counting the poetry books, where I sell about 10 and then give the rest away). Honestly, sometimes this business is like being back at primary school - I don't think there's anything wrong with me and indeed I'm no worse than anyone else (as my new strapline says!), but still nobody wants to be friends. It's a mystery. I do think the sense of hope I had nine years ago when I first started writing fiction is all but vanquished. Cynicism reigns supreme. And maybe indeed the solution is not to try so hard? I do think that my decision to go back to the self-publishing process is definitely the best way forward - I'm much happier, mental health-wise, if I don't even have to enter the submissions arena at all. Yes, I will try with the small GLBT press as and when I produce GLBT fiction, but for the rest, I simply don't want to put myself through the horror and terrible depression of it all. Publishing is not in any sense of the phrase a pleasant business: I don't think I could ever encourage anyone now to try to be a professional writer - it's like suggesting that they walk through fire in order to reach a distant and probably imaginary oasis. Probably not worth the burning.

Oh, but I must say that halfway through my "smiling at Freshers and being nice when I just feel like weeping" ordeal, Lord H turned up with two Starbucks cappuccinos, one for me and one for Clare, who was staffing our table with me - so we leapt upon him with great cries of glee and swore undying adoration. I think he was pleased ... But really - what a superhero!

So, after all that, thank goodness for the joys of Strictly Come Dancing tonight - I am currently rooting for both Ricky and Phil, but can't make up my mind which one I prefer. I'll see how they do in the Latin dances later on, and then decide who gets my vote!

Oh, and I've finished Adam Thorpe's short story collection, Is This The Way You Said? - which I'm hoping to review for Vulpes Libris at some point (though at the moment don't wait up ...). A very interesting collection and well worth a read, though a couple of the stories (including the long title story) didn't really quite work for me. I also read the list in the front of all the wonderful novels and poetry collections he's published over the last few years and felt like spitting and sticking a pitchfork into his ruddy successful bottom, but I shall endeavour not to let my extreme bitterness and overwhelming deal-envy get the better of me when I write the review. Hmm, we'll see, eh ...

Today's nice things:

1. Poetry
2. Being bitchy about pesky publishers who, frankly, deserve it
3. Cappuccinos from Lord H
4. TV
5. Books (even though, today, I hate all authors who appear in bookshops on principle).

Anne Brooke - bitter, twisted, but with a jolly nice smile, ho ho
The Gifting - totally unpublishable and very hard to read, apparently ...


Vicki said...

Your writing hard to read? Now that's hard to believe.

Keep on smiling, Anne.

Vicki xx

Anne Brooke said...

Perhaps I just use too much grammar and know what to do with a semi-colon, Vicki?!?



Jilly said...

Well obviously these publishers have to be unintelligent. Your writing is not hard to read. While my favourite will always be Pink Champagne and Apple Juice I have still enjoyed the rest - especially The Bones of Summer. None of them are difficult to read.

Rejections should always be that one sentence unless perhaps there is something minor they want you to change so that they will be interested.

Even popular authors get lots of flack - look at all the nasty mean minded comments Dan Brown gets about his and they sell millions.

Hugs anyway and keep up the good work - we appreciate you.xx

Anne Brooke said...

Thanks so much, Jilly - you're very kind, as ever!!

Love & big hugs