Friday, 4 October 2013

I'm Afraid of Being Like Kathryn Stockett

My beautiful beast, Trouble. He's about 20 lbs. 
If you knew me in real life there are certain things you would come to learn about me. Things like, I drink coffee in the morning, but not all day long. I have two cats; one is gigantic, one is not. I tend to stay home a lot; I like to be social, but only to a point. I'm not a recluse or anything, just home is where I feel the home. I crack jokes when I'm nervous (ask my doctor, he'll tell you how funny I am) I have three kids, and I don't talk about my writing with my friends who are not also writers.

No offense to the non writers of the world, but they don't get it. They ask questions like "What's it about?" I hate that question. I've also been trying to remedy not having an answer for it by working on my elevator pitches. My non writer friends are fantastic people and I love them; the reason I don't talk about my writing with them is all in my head and none of their fault at all, really.

You see, I'm afraid. I'm afraid of being like Kathryn Stockett, the woman who wrote the bestselling book, The Help. I'm afraid that if I shout from the rooftops that I'm a writer, my friends are going to *GASP* ask questions. They might even develop a set of expectations. According to an article on More, after The Help was rejected for the 15th time, one of her friends said 'Maybe the next book will be the one,'. You see, because her friends knew she was querying agents, they had a set of expectations they built up in their heads. Why does she still bother to query that same book? If it was that good surely an agent would have picked it up by now, right? How could she send fifteen queries and not land a deal?

Easy, it happens. All. The. Time. Kathryn Stockett is surely not alone on the list of rejected authors that went on to be best sellers. Here is a list of 50 authors that were rejected before someone finally thought their book was publishable. Isaac Asimov, Margaret Mitchell, Louisa May Alcott, Agatha Christie, Zane Grey, and the list goes on. Kathryn Stockett received a staggering 60 rejections before she landed an agent. I applaud her for her tenacity and her never say die attitude. I applaud her for lying to her friends and saying she was repainting her apartment when she was really working on more revisions. I applaud her for believing in her work even when her friends thought 'the next book [would] be the one,' 

I've only ever received rejections for my poetry. I have written a book, but Unbroken is really not ready for query, and I'm still on the first draft of The Demon in Him. I do imagine that if I should decide to query my work and not self publish, that I'd get a ton of support from my friends, but I'm not going to tell them until after I've landed a contract. I don't imagine there are many words to use to console a person who's book (that took years to write) isn't good enough (in the eyes of that agent/publisher, anyway) to be published.

Maybe a simple pat on the back and a dreamy whisper of the words One Day...

There's no need to finish the sentence, we're writer's, dreaming is our day job.


  1. Terrific post, Mariah. One reason I don't tell everyone I'm a writer is because they start going on about 'WOW, you're going to be the next Stephen King." and yes, the 'What's your novel about?' it can get tiresome after a while.

    I liked the list it just shows that at the end of the day, publishers are not always right.

    I love your cat by the way :D

    1. I hate the instant OMG! You'll be the next (insert mega name here) pressure, right? Oy. I think they just want to be supportive, and they are misguided and think comparing our work (which they've likely never read) to a mega star writer is the way to do it. They try...LOL

      glad you like my cat. He's a big baby. His name is Trouble, but we call him Tub-tub.

  2. A writer's life is tough! I also hate the question, "What is it about?" I have an elevator pitch, but I feel stupid saying it out loud. "Well, it's set in a Fantasy world, and its about a witch who is the only one of her kind in one hundred years..." etc. I don't think people realize how *hard* it is to boil down your whole story to two sentences, and still capture people's attention! It's doable, but man is it tough!

    1. It's IMPOSSIBLE to boil an entire novel down into two sentences. It's hard! It's harder than writing the freaking thing to begin with.

  3. Well said, Mariah!
    I feel like a fraud every time I get the "What is it about?" question. If I give them the "carefully crafted sales pitch" it is impersonal to say the least. If I just say what I really think, which is "read it and you'll see," then I won't be making and friends, or sales for that matter.
    There are times when the joy of writing is offset by the business of writing.

    1. I know what you mean. I feel like such a hack when I stutter and stammer and try to boil everything down to two thrilling sentences. I sound, and feel, like a bumbling oaf. LOL