I’ve been pondering this, off and on, for some time now. A short while back, some literary agents got together and started to Twitter something called QueryFail, wherein they openly – if anonymously – mocked the queries they’ve received from hopeful, inexperienced, probably completely virgin writers. I don’t know what they were intending, beyond the High School cheerleader tactic that keeps any new students from sitting at their table.
I won’t lie, it pissed me off. To each their own moral convictions, but it made me sick to think these professionals in the publishing industry act like this.
Following that, I stumbled into something of a “get back at ‘em” called AgentFail. There’s no getting back at anyone, of course, it’s just apparently a spot for writers to — mostly anonymously — vent off some steam. I skimmed through some of the posts, just like I skimmed through some of the QueryFail talk. While I did feel some solidarity with a few of the complaints, I can’t really go along with that any more than I could go along with QueryFail.
Valid or not, it’s as effective as shouting into a canyon. The canyon doesn’t hear you, or care what you’ve just said, it merely echoes back until all the words fade into oblivion. The most you’ve done is frighten a few rabbits and pissed off a raven or two.
Then, because I’m writing a novel right now and that tends to make me procrastinate by surfing around, I found a group of writers agreeing with an agent who’d shaken his head in sad disappointment at AgentFail. All of his followers are agreeing, waggling fingers here and there with the odd tsk tsk.
And it occurs to me, as it has many times before and does with more frequency these days — The more time I spend in the pursuit of that elusive dream of Traditional Publication, the less I give a flying shit about it. These are people — hundreds, if not thousands of them — who have reached a point in their lives where this is ALL they can see. It’s no longer about writing a novel, or telling a story that’s burning through your fingers. It’s no longer about the passion of conveying an idea through fictional characters and fantastic or dramatic settings.
It’s the cult of personality, fueled by the information age, igniting overblown egos who proselytize their own brand of publishing religion to fawning worshippers willing to sell their souls and nod their bobble heads for a chance to be rejected.
And it reminds me of the time I learned there were people born and raised in large cities, who spent their lives in their own neighborhoods — living, breathing, vacationing and dying without ever experiencing anything outside their city streets. People who had a world view that encompassed a twelve-square city block. I was stunned, and couldn’t imagine anyone with that narrow experience.
It’s even more shocking to realize some people are perfectly willing — happy even — to create their own twelve-square mentality block and never leave. Never venture outward, never ask themselves what might be going on where other people live. Never considering there could be another avenue, a different path. People who are convinced by others, and themselves, that to venture out of the city is to fall off the ends of the earth. Peer pressure keeps them bobbling their heads, and they comfort themselves in the blanket of that twelve block square. They let tradition keep them on the main streets, they elevate others in order to have someone to follow. They’ve stopped looking up to the sky, stopped striving for change, and live in fear of falling off the edge.
I guess that’s why Valhalla is only for the brave.