Some days, I’m sick of the sound of my own voice out there in the universe.
Have a happy, blather-free weekend, everyone.
Some days, I’m sick of the sound of my own voice out there in the universe.
Have a happy, blather-free weekend, everyone.
So, the other day I’m reading my agent’s blog, in which she is venting about the weird query letters she’s been getting lately.
A query letter is the short cover letter you send to a literary agent to give that important gate-keeper of the literary world an idea of what you and your book are about. The purpose of a query letter is to entice that agent into reading the sample chapter you have enclosed, thereby captivating that agent with your skill and charm as a writer, which will lead to either a request for the full manuscript or, as happened in my case, skipping straight to the contract which authorizes your new agent to sell your book proposal to a publisher thereby making you an AUTHOR.
So, you can see that writing a good query letter is a very big deal. It’s not easy, but it’s also not impossible. But some people are either too naive, too egotistic, or too crazy to do it right.
It also helps if you send a query letter regarding your sic-fi thriller to an agent who does not, say, deal exclusively with cook books. DO YOUR RESEARCH, in other words. And never start your query letter with a statement about how your book is the next Eat, Pray, Love. Agents are really tired of that pitch.
So, any way, that’s what my agent, Betsy Lerner, was complaining about.
One of the Commenters to her post responded:
What about those who cannot write a query letter? . . . what about all the little people/ big writers who can’t? How do we take care of them? How do we take care of our writers?
And that’s when I lost it. I wrote back:
“How do we take care of our writers?”
Who cares about WRITERS??? We — who ever “we” are — need to take care of our doctors, nurses, environmentalists, veterinarians, watchdogs and whistle-blowers, cops, firefighters, EMTs, teachers, physicists, soldiers, scientists, engineers, civil rights lawyers, mechanics, carpenters, farmers, sanitation workers — even the lowest-level topologist is worth more to society than a WRITER.
The only useful thing you can do for society, as a WRITER, is to compose a decent damn query letter so that your value as a relatively pointless luxury item in the culture can be appraised. is that too much to ask?
Yeah, I was so annoyed that I forgot to capitalize the “I” in that last sentence.
A third party who took offense to my Comment wrote back:
Your “relatively pointless luxury item in the culture” has made my life so much more interesting and worthwhile, beginning with those Raggedy Ann and Andy books I taught myself to read at age five. And all of those workers you list would live mighty sad lives without stories and those who tell them.
Oh, where to begin listing all the things that are wrong with this? I did my best to keep it short:
Jesus. How much more patronizing can you get?
How much you want to bet that the majority of those sad workers with their sad lives don’t even bother to read? They are far too busy with their own stories, the ones they are living and telling each other when they get together for drinks after work. I’m sure they are as happy, or as minimally miserable as the rest of us, without knowing a single writer or giving a crap about The Girl on the Train.
I am not one of those writers who thinks that I possess a gift, or an acute humanity, or the delicate nerve endings of a seer and poet, or a certain specialness for which the world owes me readers and recognition. Or maybe I do, but my Capricorny sense of reality prevents me from ever whining about how the world, and persnickety literary agents, are too mean and snotty to appreciate my self-evident genius.
And, after investing a few hours reading half of Gone Girl before I figured out that I did not want to squander any more time of my one and only life with make-believe people who I really detested, I knew I could live a happy life without ever cracking The Girl on the Train. Fiction sucks.
But you don’t have to be me to see how incredibly pompous it is to claim that all the physicists and firefighters in the world would live mighty sad lives without stories and those who tell them.
I for one would not want to read anything written by a writer who had that kind of attitude towards her readers. Would you? Please discuss.
In other news, we here on Long Island got our first snowfall last night (Sunday, Dec. 11) and I have not caught you up on the Fall leaves in my backyard. Here’s a pic of the difference between Taffy (on the left) and our newest backyard boy, Dennis (on the right):
Top Cat has put away all the patio furniture except for one chair, for obvious reasons:
And our prodigal Candy, who came back after disappearing on a six-week walk-about on Nov. 18, still has not ventured beyond the kitchen but she has let me give her a nice soft baby blanket to make her nap times more cozy:
P.S. I have not washed the kitchen floor since Candy’s come home because she’s still a bit anxious and flighty and any kind of bustle makes her freak out, and also because I really don’t want to wash to kitchen floor any way.
I’ll be here soon, with a tale from my latest adventures in being Vivian.
Spoiler alert: I got a little cranky this past week and took it out on the internets.
This was the north corner of my front yard at approx. 8:05 am, before I was told that “taking pictures ain’t cool.”
Jeeze. I’m not going to sue you guys! So I went up to my work room and took this follow-up pic:
So yes, they are digging AGAIN into the cables and such that make this blog possible. Actually, this time it was gas lines, and they hit a geyser, and “gas leak” became the word of the day. I’m sorry that I didn’t get pix of the fire engines (two) and the police are (three) that blocked off our street after we were told to just “keep the windows closed”, but I had other things than this blog post on my mind (sorry). But after gathering the cats into the house, and setting out multiple cat boxes and huge bowls of kitty chow and shutting all the windows, we thought, What the hell. . . let’s go to Atlantic City!
So we checked into the Borgata:
And we got a room on the 37th floor, with a view of the coming storm:
And then, at 4 o’clock in the afternoon, it hit:
And then, came the rainbow:
(If you look real hard on the right side of that pic (above), you’ll see it.)
So here I am, in a hotel room in Atlantic City, with a heart full of gratitude to YOU, the most wonderful Dear Readers that ever was. . .
. . . and this will have to be a Saturday (Sunday for you, you darling antipodeans, Friday for you dears on the three-hour delay on the Pacific Coast).
Oh, we have so much to talk about, such as: Why isn’t Deborah Hatt writing this blog instead of me?, and: How much do I love thee, all you amazing Commentors, without whom I would be but a sad, sad girl in search of a nonexistent tiger to kiss.
XXOO, and a bientôt.
For example, Helen Mirren:
This is her in 1970:
And this is her now:
This was me last week:
And this is me now:
In the olden days we didn’t have blogs, and now we have a pain-in-the-ass internet that craps all over any blog you’re trying to get done, dammit.
Our street was dug up yesterday and now the internet keeps blipping on and off, so that’s why I’m at the library sending you this All Is Well teaser until our information superhiway is restored.
Good, great, and greatest things have happened since we last got together and I want to tell you all about it but, well, I need to crawl inside the series of tubes we call the world wide web, so. . .
. . . stay tuned.
I’ll be back.
I’m taking a moment aside from my regularly scheduled blog to bring you this special Vive la France post.
We’ll always — always always always — have Paris.
I know that all of our hearts are in Paris this week…and my heart is with my special Paris friend, Carol Gillott of Paris Breakfasts. For those of you who might not know her story, Carol is an American illustrator who used to travel to Paris half a dozen times a year until 2013, when she decided to live her life to the fullest and picked up lock, stock, and paintbrushes and moved there.
Talk about living creatively without fear: Carol lives the artful life — art, food, fashion, travel, books…de luxe in thought, word, and deed.
Wherever she goes…
… and she chronicles it all on her blog…
…but especially in her monthly letters:
I have been subscribing to Carol’s monthly sketch letters for over a year and I have saved every morsel from her monthly packets: the perfume samples, patisserie notes, grand chef calling cards, cafe mementos — all the ephemera extraordinaire that she tucked into each envelope. It’s a gift parcel from the world capital of elegant living every single month.
I feel duty-bound to share with you all these delights. Whether it’s for you (because you deserve it!) or for those dearest Francophile friends into whose life you want to bring some authentic Paris joy — I can’t recommend any other gift more highly.
You can subscribe to monthly Sketch Letters,
or monthly Map Letters,
or BOTH by visiting Carol’s Easy Shop here.
Vive la Vie Parisienne!
And please stay tuned to this blog — my regularly scheduled post is just behind this one!
My WiFi is not letting me upload photos for today’s post,
and these are my I.T. guys:
(my backup plan is to rely on global warming)
I will have a an amazing story to tell you,
another mountain made outta my molehill life.
We left the house at 3:40 PM and got to the edge of the Long Island Sound at 4:10 — barely in time to watch the sun set on the shortest day of the year.
Nobody else was on the beach, maybe because of the wind chill that made it feel as if it were 17 degrees — but for me and Top Cat, that only means it’s perfect champagne-drinking weather. The bubbly stays nice and cold — even colder — after you pour it!
Top Cat, chillin’ with the champers.
Bring on the light!
I was talking to my brother yesterday about a mutual acquaintance.
OK, I was enumerating to my brother some of the dire personality flaws of this mutual acquaintance.
My brother interrupted me and asked, “Is he really that bad? Because, you know, you can be very critical.”
Critical? Moi? I said, “I’m not critical! I just happen to be very observant!”
And, I should add, I’m just trying to be helpful. In that same spirit of assistance, I have a few recommendations for the betterment of the human race. Becausepeople, you have to stop annoying me, all of you, but youse in specific:
Readers. Stop being voracious. Because that’s what they all say and I’m dead tired of it. Be insatiable, be gluttonous, be the kind of reader who hates literary fiction as much as I do — and then go on book blogs and tell everyone how much you hated Atonement. Then you’ll be my friend forever.
Moody people. Stop being on an emotional roller coaster. When I first heard that term in 1980I thought, gee, that’s kind of clever: emotional roller coaster. Hits the metaphoric (or is it a simile?) nail on the head. But it’s been 20 years and every damn drama queen and her low of self esteem has been on the old loop-de-loop. Enough already.
Therapists who counsel hoarders. Stop asking if those pack rats are comfortable with the process at each step of the way. Just tell them that they are pigs and they have to clear that crap out whether they like it or not. We don’t wait until racists, kleptomaniacs, dipsomaniacs, or train spotters are comfortable with the demands that living as a productive member of harmonious society are put upon them before we tell them to just cut it the hell out. Why should we molly coddle hoarders?
Asshole next door. Stop complaining that my cats make your dog bark. First of all, they aren’t my cats. They’re God’s. And second of all, your dog is a Dalmatian. What did you expect?
Tightwads. Stop saying that your kids spend money like water. It only confuses me, as I have never seen anyone spend water — I have no idea what that looks like: is it messy? Does it ruin cashmere? Or is it just wet? What is it? What is it?
(P.S. Please, somebody, but mostly the nit wits who say “spend money like water”, please tell me: what country in the world makes the H2O its legal tender?)
Ladies. Stop having sex with guys who wear a soul patch. If nobody would have sex with guys sporting that ridiculous little hairy patch under their bottom lip, those icky crumb-catchers would disappear overnight. I’m serious. I hate those things.
Actors. Stop turning to face the camera while supposedly sitting in the driver’s seat of your car going 60 mph all the while never taking your eyes off your co-star riding shotgun over whose shoulder the scene is being shot. It’s unbelievable. It’s so fake it’s almost kabuki.
And while you’re at it, actors, especially TV actors, stop pretending to eat food in dinner scenes. I see you, fake chewing the forkfuls of food that the camera never catches you actually putting in your mouth. For god’s sake, risk a few calories for your audience’s sake; you can always puke it up later during your afternoon bulimia session.
Radio show hosts on NPR. Stop slurping your food or drink when you have a chef on, stop talking with your mouth full to show listeners that you are actually eating or drinking. Even if you were on TV, that would be disgusting. (and Scott Simon: Stop trying to speak French. Same reason.)
Melodramatic co-workers. Stop telling people that your arch enemy is tying to throw you under the bus. Because I am your arch enemy and I’d just as soon sprinkle some rat poison into the egg salad that I left in the staff refrigerator that I know you helped yourself to.
Graduates of self help programs. Stop telling people that you now feel good in your own skin. Because, unless you are that psychopath in Silence of the Lambs, no one feels good in anybody else’s skin except their own. For christ’s sake: do you even think before you speak??
People who laugh at their own jokes. Stop it. And stop saying that certain actions are so pointless it’s like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. You are so damn boring it’s not even funny.
Feel free to add your own amendments to this Memo to the World.