Monday’s Top 5

I was pointed to this great post by Literary Agent Janet Reid. (If you’re a writer and you don’t follow her, get on over there!) Austin Kleon wrote this a few months ago, but it’s absolutely brilliant and applies to all kinds of artistic endeavours. And, probably, life in general. Check out How To Steal Like an Artist (And 9 Other Things Nobody Told Me).

Speaking of Janet Reid, she also entered the “No response means no” debate in regards to query letters. (For non-writers, sending a query letter to an agent is the first step in the traditional publishing route in the US.) Earlier in the week, both Jill Corcoran and Rachelle Gardner explained why they don’t have the time to send rejection letters in response to every query they receive. Janet countered with: No, you’re wrong, and here’s why.

Meanwhile, the esteemed Tamara Paulin says: That’s it, I’m self-publishing! Click through and read her post to find out why.

Finally, it would be remiss of me not to mention the one event that has taken up the most time, space and emotional energy in the blogosphere this week. Obviously I’m referring to the 10 year anniversary of 9/11. Browse the web and you’ll find hundreds, thousands, of posts. I’d like to share two with you:

Chuck Wendig’s Nine-Eleven hit me right where I live, and brought tears to my eyes with his call to arms.

Speaker7’s A Day of Reflection Brought to You By… does a great job of finding a spark of ironic humour amongst the tragedy, and brought a smile to my face.

I’m not an American. I don’t live in America. Ten years ago, before social media was so all-pervasive, I barely knew anyone in America. But I remember September 11, 2001.

Here in Australia, it was night when the attacks happened. I didn’t know about them until the early hours of the following morning. My husband’s mother phoned and woke us up. “Turn on the TV,” she said. We did. And we stared in shock and horror at the footage on the screen. My husband looked at me and said, “My cousin works at the World Trade Centre.”

Time stood still. I remember staring at the TV. I remember tears on my face. I remember goosebumps on my arms, my neck, my head. I remember waiting for the phone to ring.  And then I was running late for work. I struggled to cover tear-stained eyes with mascara. I struggled to remember why it was important that my uniform was ironed. I struggled to walk out of the house and leave my husband sitting in front of the TV.

I managed a department store. It was a quiet day. The staff huddled in groups but barely spoke. The customers were quiet; furtive. A few innocent shoppers came into the store. “It’s quiet in here today.” “Didn’t you hear…” And they left with their purchases in hand and their innocence in tatters.

When I got home, my husband was still sitting in front of the TV, tears slowly rolling down his cheeks. I don’t think he’d moved all day. I went and sat next to him. We stared at the screen for a while. Then he said, “My cousin wasn’t at work. It’s okay.”

But it wasn’t okay. It really wasn’t.

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12 Comments

Filed under Random Stuff, Top 5

12 responses to “Monday’s Top 5

  1. I’ve never worked in publishing, but the post about replying to queries sounded right to me. To ignore sincere queries from people who might later submit things you would be interested in sounds both self-defeating and unprofessional.

  2. They say one of our many human biases is a Confirmation Bias.

    Simply, this means that after we’ve made a decision, we see only information that supports this decision. When you’re querying, you see authors crowing about meeting The One, getting Engaged, and then announcing the Big Day, which is, strangely still analogous to the courtship/marriage metaphor, A Special Date About Two Years From Now. It happened to others, so it can happen to you, you tell yourself. Just keep Dating! Uh, I mean Querying.

    But after you decide to quit querying and go into business as an independent consultant rather than a salaried/contracted employee, you see nothing but authors who’ve become disenchanted with the whirlwind romance of publishing. After years of frenzied platform-building, their books hit the stores, had their brief moment with a bad cover, then three months later were remaindered, the author cast aside for the next hotter, younger one.

    I guess if we were to use the (revolting! insulting! degrading!) publishing-is-courtship metaphor to describe where I’m at now, I’m the Crazy Spinster Who’s Going to Live Alone Forever with her Cats and is Just Fine With That. 🙂

    • Tamara, very funny and very true. I laughed out loud, including recognizing that this is where I am, too (of course, typically, there isn’t really a male equivalent for “spinster,” but that’s another story).

      • Actually yes, we do: it’s “confirmed bachelor”. It has a slightly negative connotation, but nowhere near as negative as “spinster”.

        Which is sad. Because the term is frequently applied to womanizing misogynists, who are more burndensome on society by far than “spinsters” who are doing no one any harm.

    • Love it. 🙂 And anyway, what’s wrong with cats?

      I love the old Confirmation Bias. Isn’t it great to know that our brains are set up to make us feel like we’re always right? Best thing ever.

  3. … And all of my writing concerns are very tiny compared to the tragedy of 9/11, and my worries pale in comparison to First Responders, who put their lives at risk for our safety, every day.

    • Absolutely. I’m sure I’ve already directed you to my favorite Andy Warhol quote about artists and risks. I worked a block from the Trade Center site for all that fall and winter, and I’m just lucky my health is okay. Many others were not as lucky.

  4. Chuck’s comments captured my sentiments this year pretty clearly. I felt sickened by all the “9/11 Memorials”… not as sickened as I felt the day it happened, but sickened just the same.

    It’s become commercialized propoganda. And I have no desire to memorliaze commercial propoganda. I think it dishonors the memories of those who died that day and those who have died since in pursuit of some sort of justice and some sort of cathartic release. And it dishonors all of us who did not die that day, but merely witnessed it. It turns us into tiny little cogs in a massive and de-humanizing propoganda machine.

    Me? I hate feeling like I’ve been made into a cog. I deeply and truly and profoundly hate it.

    • After reading 30 or 40 9/11-themed blog posts, Chuck’s was one of the few that I connected with. He hit the nail right on the head. 9/11 has been used as an excuse to declare war on a concept (“terror”), and while I salute the service-people who put their lives on the line, I also think it’s worth remembering that you can’t kill a concept. You can only kill other people.

      (And speaker7’s post is exactly about the commercialised propoganda you mention, which is why I linked to hers as well.)

  5. I haven’t read any of the 9/11 posts because it’s too emotional. I read this one though (you tricked me a little) and here I am crying at 6:30 in the morning at my kitchen table. Thanks for sharing, I’m really glad your husband’s cousin was ok.

    • Thanks, Bridget. And I’m sorry to have tricked you. I didn’t really intend to write about 9/11 at all, but after reading upward of 30 posts about it, the story just came flowing out of my fingers.

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