Saturday, July 28, 2007

I'm Not That Kind of a Gal

I’m so excited. QC has been offered a book deal, by Hyperion no less, because some (obviously brilliant) editor there has discovered her blog and realized she’s publishing-worthy. I can’t wait till the book is published. I’ll be the first in line at Border’s to get a copy, nonchalantly telling people, “Oh yeah, I was reading her blog LONG before this was published,” despite the fact that I was about two years late to the party. I’ll take the book home, fall out of my chair, and roll around the floor in hysterics the way I do when I read Three Men in a Boat or a collection of David Rakoff essays. Speaking of Rakoff, I hope one day to hear QC on NPR’s This American Life. She’s already begun blogging some on the experience of writing the book (or procrastinating, as the case may be), and I’m looking forward to reading more (since I missed out on the whole discovering Julie Powell’s blog before the book was written thing). It’s all going to be so much fun.

Isn’t it nice that Pollyanna has taken up residence in my blog? Uh-oh, here comes The Wicked Witch. She’s shoving Pollyanna into the oven and saying to me, “Come on. You’re even greener than I am. We all know exactly what you’re thinking.” Damn her. She’s right.

I’m extremely jealous. Not because QC doesn’t deserve her good fortune: she absolutely does. I’m not even jealous because I’m aspiring to be a published writer these days. Besides, if I do still have any of those aspirations, it’s to be a published writer of ghost stories and children’s books, not of anything that resembles this blog. What makes me jealous is that I’m not the sort of person who ever has such luck.

If I were to decide I wanted to turn my blog into a book (despite recently being classified among the best of the best bloggers by both Litlove and Charlotte, honors of which I’m so proud, I plan to come back long after I’m dead and haunt people with them, forcing cursors to click on old archives), I’d have to beg some agent to take me on, probably as some sort of pity case. She’d spend all her time trying to convince me not to aim very high, suggesting I try Two Cousins Press, a little known outfit in Neverheardofit, KA. They mostly publish books on quilting, but they’re beginning to branch out a little, and my book will be a great experiment for them. Cousin #1 would agree to publish the book for 2% royalties and then, as my editor, tell me they sort of like the concept but would like my book to be far more serious than my blog. She’d proceed to delete all humorous passages from the sample pages I’d send, and we’d end up with a 98-page book that never sold out its first print run of 250.

That’s the sort of person I am, the sort who fantasizes that someone from Knopf will happen upon my blog, call me up, and say, “Have you ever tried your hand at writing fiction? I have an idea for a series of books. Do you think you’d be interested?” I’d go on to become a 21st-century cross between Dorothy Parker and William Faulkner, writing a series of books that all take place in the same location, featuring different dysfunctional members of the community. In reality I end up practically paying Two Cousins Press to publish me.

I’m the sort of person who’s had to work and fight for every promotion she’s ever gotten in the business world. You know how some people will come into a company, work there for less than a year, do absolutely nothing spectacular, and the next thing you know, they’re being promoted to VP of Nothing Spectacular, making twice the salary at which they were hired? Well, that wouldn’t be me. I’m the one putting in long hours, being whipped by my perfectionist and ethical slave drivers, refusing to “play the game,” especially when doing so requires cheating, and five years after being hired, I’m still slogging away at my entry-level position with my 3% annual raises.

I’m the sort who if she goes off and is offered a job elsewhere, making $10K more than she’s making now, has a boss who says, “See ya!” Meanwhile, the woman in the next-door cubicle, who dumps all her work on the assistants and does nothing but complain all day long about this horrible company for which she works, goes off and gets another company to offer her $5K more than she’s currently making. This company that can’t wait to see me go offers her $20K not to leave.

I’m the wife who will tell her husband that eating free range, organic eggs is actually good for his heart, that they are full of Omega 3 Fatty Acids. Despite the fact that his cholesterol levels are fantastic and that his doctor claims he’s in great shape, he’ll complain, because we happen to have them twice in one week, that we’re eating way too many eggs. Then one day, he’ll read in The New York Times that organic, free-range eggs are good for the heart, and suddenly, having eggs for breakfast every morning becomes a wonderful plan. The New York Times, that bastion of responsible news reporting, never having misrepresented anything, nor having hired journalists who just make up stories, is far more trustworthy than a silly old wife who dabbles in nutrition as a hobby.

I’m even the sort who can patronize a restaurant for years, encourage everyone to go there, be loyal to it even when some grand new place opens up right across the street. One night, it will be overly crowded, and I’ll politely wait my turn for a seat, asking for and getting no special treatment. Suddenly, some obnoxious person traveling into town from Ohio or someplace will waltz in, demand the best table, complain about the service, and have everyone fawning all over him. He’ll be scraping the last crumbs off his dessert plate just as I’m being seated.

So, yes, The Wicked Witch is right. I’m a little green these days. It’ll pass, though. It always does. Jealousy is an emotion that, contrary to what one might read in some sexy, trendy women’s magazine, doesn’t do me a bit of good. I’m pulling Pollyanna out of that oven and shoving this green monster in there instead.


Charlotte said...

Thanks for the pointer to QC. How exciting! I will keep an eye on her from now on. What she has achieved is a bit of blogger's dream, isn't it? (OK, this blogger's dream anyway.)

Which leads me to the fact that I too am suffering from a little greenness. Where's that oven?

Emily Barton said...

Charlotte, yes it is a blogger's dream. I have a feeling I might need to build a bigger oven, but right now, there's still room for your monster, as I'm sure she's not that huge.

litlove said...

Move over, girls, I'm coming to get in with you! I feel exactly the same. Nothing has ever happened to me without excessive effort on my part. But then, when I look back over this year and see how far behind I am on writing my academic book, well, perhaps there are reasons why I will remain forever undiscovered....

Rebecca H. said...

Oh, Emily, you really are funny. This post made me laugh. Alas, it's hard to be the kind of person who never has any good luck, isn't it? I kind of know what you're talking about ...

Anonymous said...

I am determined these days to embrace my inner green and stop pretending that I dont feel pangs of jealousy in situations like this. And then by doing that I truly AM able to be thrilled for Quinn, who is a friend of ours and is truly one of the funniest, wittiest people I've ever met. I'm just fascinated by the way her brain works but I still had to pass through a brief stage of seething envy on my way to congratulations. (I can't wait to read her book!)

I loved your description of the small press, the 2 percent royalties, and especially, considering our profession, the editor deleting all the funny. For the record, I'd be first in line to buy YOUR book!

And though it's not in the same green-inducing level of a book contract, I did have an editor from a national magazine call me up out of the blue recently and offer me a freelance writing gig because of something she had read in my blog. Now why can't that happen more often?

Emily Barton said...

Litlove, I think we can make some room for you.

Dorr, yes, it's quite hard, but if I can make you laugh, well, it's worth the sacrifice of good luck.

Danny, lucky you, getting to rub elbows with the Mighty Quinn. To tell you the truth, as I was writing that post, I was wondering why no one's snapped you up for a book deal yet. Too bad I don't work in trade publishing. I think I'd be finding all my authors through blogs, and you'd be my first acquisition.

Froshty said...

Emily, your experience in the workplace directly correlates with mine. I'm the kind of person who'll get fired because I had a flat tire on the way to work and am 20 minutes late, while the guy in the cube next to mine is at least 1 1/2 hours late mention it very day and when I complain about it, they say "Oh, Mr. Next Cube to Yours is always late. That's just the way he is. So, we'll have to schedule that meeting for a time when he'll be in the office." Like Danny, I also appreciate the description of the small press. In my case, I'd be so excited that they said they'd publish my book that I wouldn't realize they're a vanity press that wants me to pay them $10,000 to publish 100 copies of my book

Unknown said...

I so, so identify with the green feeling. I've certainly fantasized about someone discovering my blog and just OFFERING me a book deal (another blogger I love got a job at a magazine) but I also know I can't use that as motivation or my blog writing will become forced, out of character, not me. I am always jealous when a graduate school friend of mind is published, or that my friend Kim just finished his novel - but I take it as balancign that I AM happy for the, too, and their writing is not like mine, and of course - there is always comfort in the old adage, that if you are writing for publication, you will always be one sorry sack. I write because I literally MUST, because if I didn't I would constantly be unsettled, and that fact helps balance much of the greenery.
But, still.

mandarine said...

Incredible luck is by essence infrequent. You can find people who have not had much luck by the dozen, but can you name real people (beside me) who have had indecent streaks of luck more than once? Excuse me for being both Polyannaish (learnt a new word tonight) and patronizing, but from what you write, it seems everybody around you has a lot of luck all the time, when in reality, it is some people around you who have had some luck once.

I have often heard champions explaining their success by telling how bad they wanted the title and how hard they had worked for it. Even a child understands that this is not enough: there were maybe ten thousand people who wanted the title just as bad and had worked just as hard. Luck had done 99.99% of the job. But there is one thing I knew: luck would not have chosen me for a [name a sport] champion in a lifetime.

What I mean to say is: Sister Luck does come at random, but she does not come blindfolded either. When she wants to have another go at talented bloggers, rest assured that your e-door will be in one of the first e-streets she visits.

Plus, there's one thing you sure do better than QC: you answer comments.

Emily Barton said...

Froshty, hmmm...maybe I wasn't adopted after all?

Court, I write, because I MUST as well, and I can't think of any better reason, really. And, you're right. I would absolutely hate my blog writing to be forced.

Mandarine, you are the Wise Sage (or is that Pollyanna?), as always. Now, will you please toss a little luck my way?