Friday, October 1, 2010

Queries, jealousy, and the internet is the internet.

I feel like this is one of those blog posts that I should preface by saying: this all is just my opinion. Although I hope everyone who reads my blog knows that, actually, everything on this blog is just my opinion. It is my blog, after all!

And if you're thinking, "those things in the title of this post don't seem like they quite go together," you're right. I wanted to blog about three separate things, but none really warrant their own, individual post, I don't think. So here are my thoughts on three random, unrelated subjects.

Queries. Or more specifically, agents and interns tweeting about queries. There's been some quiet uproar (ha--is that an oxymoron?) on twitter this week about certain querying hashtags, and Kathleen Ortiz wrote a brilliant blog post touching on the difference between agents and interns tweeting about queries. I'm not going to throw in my own opinion on that particular facet because I am so unqualified to, but anyway. It's a good post. But here is my opinion, in general, on the query-related tweeting as someone who used to be in the querying trenches.

Querying sucks sometimes. The highs are really high, the lows are really low. I enjoy general posts by agents or interns or whoever on things like: querying trends, generalized reasons why they rejected something, general advice based on mistakes they've seen a lot of lately, and other similar topics. Statistics, like "I received x amount of queries, this many in this genre, this many in this genre, asked for y amount of partials and z amount of fulls" are also way interesting to me. 

But I am so turned off by too-detailed specifics and also by teasing about someone's query or pages. I would have absolutely died inside if I'd seen myself tweeted about while I was querying. Because while yeah, the slush pile is, I'm sure, filled with a lot of scary stuff and letters by people who did zero research, there are also many people who did do their research and are trying so hard and putting this piece of themselves out there (in a private email, might I add) only to be publicly ridiculed. It's just not cool, and honestly, my opinion of someone can totally diminish if they are nasty and unkind toward queriers. Queriers may not be signed by anyone yet, and they may not be published, but that doesn't make them inferior human beings. I would imagine it's easy, when someone is seeing hundreds of queries a day, to forget that these are people sending the letters, with faces, lives, feelings, etc. But it's kind of important to remember. And I definitely think that the majority of the internet writing community, agents, interns and authors alike, are respectful toward each other, but not always. Unfortunately.

Jealousy. The ugly green beast. It attacks at the worst of times. Like when you're trying so hard to be happy for someone, but dammit, you want what they have! And with writing, there are lots of opportunities to be jealous. You're querying. They got an agent. You got an agent, but they got an agent faster! You've been on sub forever, and they got a book deal like *that*. You got a book deal, but they got a HUGE book deal. Your cover came out terrible, you wish you had theirs. They just posted pictures of the delicious baked goods they made, and you are OUT OF $%#$ING FLOUR! 

I'm not sure that it's humanly possible to not be jealous. Ever. Of anything. But you can, and should, contain it. For me personally, there is no rhyme or reason to what makes me jealous. Sometimes everyone else around me is--or seems--jealous of something, and I'm floating away in "I'm so happy for this person that nothing else matters" land. Other times, I get a seething jealousy over something ridiculous, like, say, cookies. I think I'm naturally not a super jealous person, but it still gets me sometimes. However. You can't let it rule you. It is absolutely miserable to be around a person who is so perpetually envious that they are always unhappy. I like to reason through my jealousy, when I can tell I'm getting to an unattractive point of jealousness. Like, okay, she has cookies and I don't. Should this affect our friendship? If she stole the cookies from me, yes. This is an unforgivable crime. Otherwise, no. It should not. And if I want cookies, what am I doing to get some for myself? If I'm not even getting off my lazy butt to cook some, then how jealous can I really be, because obviously I don't want them that badly. If I'm missing an ingredient or just don't have the time that day, then maybe I should make a plan to bake cookies a different day. Problem solved. I know it's a simple example, but it works for lots of things, really, it does.

The internet is the internet. I have formed some of my best friendships on the internet, so I am not belittling it at all. But it's the internet. You're not hearing a person's tone of voice, not seeing their accompanying gestures as they communicate. When they're IMing you, they might also be fighting off an attack from a vicious toddler or cleaning up dog puke. Maybe that thing they tweeted sounded totally hilarious in their head, but without inflection, it comes out flat. And, although our internet community might feel so small when we're in it, it's actually massive. And sometimes people belong to more than one little internet niche, which makes it even more massive. So that passive-aggressive tweet that feels it's casting a giant spotlight over you may actually not be about you at all. It's important to remember how vast the internet is and how many people it revolves around before you ever let it ruin your day. I know I forget how huge it is all the time, personally. (Although I suppose, if you're someone who thinks EVERY tweet/blog post/forum post is about you, either it is and you've got some issues you should work on, or it isn't, and you've maybe got some different issues to work on...)

So that was long. And maybe boring, but I hope not. And maybe nonsensical, but I hope not that either. Just some things that were in my brain and wanted to come out, and did!


Krista Ashe said...

You're never boring, love. And I really love the internet part and the jealousy. It's such a fine line and a hard one. Eesh. But great post!

Lee Bross said...

"They just posted pictures of the delicious baked goods they made, and you are OUT OF $%#$ING FLOUR!"

BAH HA HA! That was about Kris wasn't it?! ;)

Great post today!

Sarah Enni said...

Love (and agree with) all the points here.

However, I assert that a discussion of cookies, no matter how small, may necessitate its own blog post. With pictures. And recipes.


Kaitlin Ward said...

haha Lee they did just start talking about baked goods JUST when I finished this post. But Kristin IS usually the one with cookies!!

Phoebe said...

Queriers may not be signed by anyone yet, and they may not be published, but that doesn't make them inferior human beings.


As someone still querying, thank you. I understand how exhausted the cruft must be for slush readers, but as someone who works in a similar job (grading standardized tests), I think it's ALWAYS important to remember that there's a person on the other side.

Kelley Vitollo said...

Great post! I agree with you!

Kate Hart said...

"This is an unforgivable crime."

I love you.

Amie Kaufman said...

Great post, I agree too. Now I have Carly Simon running through my head.

You're so vaaaaaaaaaaain. You probably think this tweet is about you!

Sandy Shin said...

This is a great post. These are definitely good things to keep in mind -- and your offered solution to the jealousy problem: that's such a wonderful one. Asking yourself and changing the mentality of how you think about things definitely work. :)

Kathy Bradey said...

I think someone has an obsession with cookies and cupcakes. :P


Mariam Maarouf said...

Jealousy -- ouch.

That green beast is awful when it comes to the road to publication and even the post-publication phase. Awful. There are just SO MANY THINGS to be jealous of.