Don’t you like ANYTHING?

I’ve been stewing about this for several months, but perhaps my problem could be alleviated by not hanging out on litrachoor blogs, where it’s the nature of the beast to say what you don’t like about a particular work.

Anyway, at one niche blog I hang out on a lot (but don’t post much because I have nothing constructive to add, whether positive or negative), there are a couple of posters who comment on each and every literary offering (whether they’ve read the work or not) with a *sniff* and variations on a theme of “I don’t like this.” Usually for weird X reason.

I get that. I don’t like everything I read, either. Whether I say so is a function of A) how lazy I am that day (I can’t be arsed to sign in and comment a negative), B) how confident I am in my own scholarship (as in, I’m not a litrachoor type nor an intellectual nor even a pseudo intellectual), C) whether I actually liked the work or not (I can be arsed to sign in to make a positive comment or to take a counter position to the negative poster if I feel strongly enough about the negative comment).

Aside: Oh, I forgot. Good litrachoor criticism means you are not allowed to A) like it and B) say anything positive about it.

However, what I don’t get is the constant not liking of everything that’s posted and feeling a need to say so. And! Worse! When the commenter enumerates how the work lacks everything s/he thinks it should have, that it isn’t what s/he thought the work would/should be, i.e., “Why don’t you people write what I want to read?” while yet not actually writing anything him/herself. Especially in a niche that has precious little to offer the world to begin with. If you don’t like what’s there, write it your owndamnself.

Another aside: Why am I stuck on having been instructed in novel-writing techniques by someone who’s never written a novel (nor, as far as I know, a novella, or a short story)? And teaches an adult extended education class on the subject?

The latest offering was a poem. I liked it, and while I’ve not traditionally been a fan of poetry, Th. and Tyler (and Tyler again and Th.’s posting of May Swenson) and some dude named Danny Nelson are all seducing me to the dark side.

This was not a constructive post. I realize this. I try to offer some solution to whatever I think is a problem if I start to bitch, which is why I’ve kept a lid on this for so long. But, look, not every work that’s posted or linked is a piece of crap.

And if you think every work actually is a piece of crap, do something about it instead of hanging out on litrachoor blogs and trashing everything that walks by.


Beethoven makes me peevish

Not really. I’ll take Ludwig over Wolfgang any day. But I have not bitched in at least 1/2 hour; thus, I am overdue.

One thing that totally gives me an emotional wedgie is this: When you reply to a blog post that asks an open-ended question, and you put a lot of time and care and thought into your reply, and you’re not acknowledged by the original poster, not told that you’re brilliant, not told that you’re a fucking idiot. What I mean is, NO ONE who comments is acknowledged and the blog doesn’t have enough traffic (read: any personality) to generate its own activity.

Hit’n’run poster who was doing her time on a group blog. I’m on several like that. They have one thing in common: They’re LDS. They’re about writing. PLONK

I don’t think I’ve done this (I try to be conscientious about commenting), but if I have, feel free to shove it back in my face.

And while I’m bitching, might as well throw this out, too:

Takes me about 3 days through the blogosphere these days to get tired of the latest catch phrases and buzzwords. And I’ve used some of them in the last 6 months. Well, no more.

drinking the Kool-Aid (thank you, O’Reilly, like, 3 years ago)
honing your craft (and plain ol’ “craft” by itself by now, no matter what it’s in reference to)
made of awesome
made of win
OMGWTFBBQ and any variant thereof
FTW (for the win)

And also? My blog is just way too cluttered for my taste. I’m going to have to figure out something workable before my ADD gets violent.

What are you latest internet pet peeves?

For fun and a free e-copy of The Proviso, be the first to peg the reference in this post’s title.

The gatekeepers, part 1

I haven’t read Stephenie Meyer’s Breaking Dawn. I read Twilight and while I like cotton candy, I can only take so much. Like, one cone every 10 years or so or.

By now I’m sure everyone’s heard about the backlash against what is reputed to be the shoddy workmanship of Breaking Dawn and the push to return it to the bookstores after having read it. Mind you, the complaints ranged from the fact that Meyer tore her own world’s rules asunder to the poor editing job (i.e., grammar, spelling, typos). I found more than a few of those in Twilight and it bugged me then that a major publisher would release it like that. It looked so [sneer] vanity published.

I’ve heard ad nauseam about the gatekeepers, the agents and the editors, whose self-appointed Prime Directive is to keep out the unwashed masses of illiteracy who think they have a bestseller in them somewhere. They are there to not only 1) screen out the dreck and vet work that is potentially money-making, but once that is finished, to 2) put out a product that is well edited, well designed, and doesn’t look like it’s [sneer] vanity published.

Well, with Twilight, they did the first part right: They found a piece that would make money.

With the second part, they dropped the ball (especially with regard to Breaking Dawn) and Meyer ended up being put on the spot for a) bad writing, b) violation of her world’s rules, and c) bad editing in all stages.

I think that’s totally unfair.

I’ve been thinking about one particular Breaking Dawn post/thread on Dear Author for over a month now, wherein the commonly held die-hard fan opinion [that Meyer wrote by whimsy alone (putting forethought and craft aside)] was reiterated by author K.Z. Snow:

What’s so irksome is this: Meyer seemed to have a serious–and, to me, really appalling–lack of commitment to and respect for the craft. So shoot me for idealizing what we do, but one doesn’t become a writer on a freakin’ whim. I’m not surprised there’s been a degeneration from one book to the next.

and I opined:

I think this is clearly a case of wringing blood out of a turnip by the publisher and editors. They’re the ones who control the channel to the marketplace. If Meyer doesn’t have a commitment to the craft, who’s to blame? Meyer? No. The publisher and editors who facilitated her in that. If she has any thought about “craft” at all, I’d be surprised–and that’s not her fault. She hasn’t been required to to sell a gazillion+1 books.

Nora Roberts disagreed with me:

Yes, it is. Her name’s on the book. It’s her work. […] But it is the author who’s responsible for what’s on the page.

And this comment is what’s had me thinking about this for so long after it’s been done and gone.

Ms. Roberts’s comment is borne out in the fact that Meyer alone was held accountable for what’s widely perceived as shoddy workmanship. Do we know who her editors (content, line, and copy) are? Undoubtedly somebody does, but they aren’t the ones being burned in effigy. I wonder if they got dragged into a meeting to find out why so many die-hard fans took their books back? I wonder if they got sent to Remedial Editing? I wonder if Meyer went back and said, “Hey, why didn’t you do your job? You made me look bad and you’re supposed to make me look good. You’re the gatekeepers.”

She was also responsible for selling those gazillion+1 books and making a helluva lot of money for those gatekeepers, whimsy and shoddy workmanship and all.

Yet why should Meyer bear sole responsibility for what is obviously a case of “Bless her heart. It ain’ her fault; she doan know no better”? Moreover, she doesn’t know she “doan know no better” as evidenced by the fact that she’s trying to defend the book by blaming readers. “They just didn’t get it.” Well, maybe they didn’t, but you don’t say that in public. If you can’t keep from digging yourself into a hole, shut the hell up.

(And ahem, Stephenie. You’re college educated. Could you not have gone through your manuscript to make sure you caught all the typos? Oh, right. That was the copy editor’s job, wasn’t it?)

Meyer’s editors, in looking for a quick buck sooner rather than later, threw Meyer to the wolves. They, as the self-appointed gatekeepers should have done their jobs and when they didn’t, they let her take the fall because, as Ms. Roberts points out, it’s her name on the book.

They also threw the readers and die-hard fans to the wolves–who howled loud, long, and with their checkbooks. Who knows how many die-hard fans felt betrayed who did not take their books back and did not burn them (as some did)?

I have come to no conclusion except that, at this point, I think both Ms. Roberts and I are right. But how can that be? I don’t know, because obviously Meyer was held accountable for it, but she wasn’t the one who enthusiastically put it in the editorial pipeline. I can’t think she had much control over it after that other than galley proofs.

Right now, though, I only have two questions:

1. What, again, are the gatekeepers for?

2. How did such work warrant such gorgeous covers?

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A week!

I cannot believe a week has gone by and I haven’t posted. Tax Deduction #1 just went into kindergarten and I find myself being forced by the school district to keep a schedule. (Blech.) Being a WAHM is its own precious kind of insanity and my chaos is getting beaten into submission. Thank heavens I still have Tax Deduction #2 to keep my days a little off balance. I just don’t know what I’m going to do when he goes to school, too, and we’re all perfectly regulated and scheduled by default.

FYI, I thought y’all might like to know what editing a book (for me) looks like:

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That stack of papers is one manuscript. Take about 100 pages off the top and that’s about how much of a dent I’ve made, which isn’t, admittedly, that much. Once I got through crying over all the bloodletting, though, I’ve started to have a lot of fun.

I’ll admit that when I’m under the gun like this (or otherwise preoccupied with Fun Stuff*), my blog reading goes way down (oh noes! missing drahmah!) and obviously, so does my posting. Hopefully I’ll be back on track in a couple of weeks and with any luck, I’ll get to start really cranking out the pages for book #2 in the Dunham series.

*So in the last week, Fun Stuff has consisted of reading. A lot. I finished a couple of erotic historical romance author Pam Rosenthal‘s books, which I enjoyed for their voice and odd cadences, but didn’t find terribly erotic. Both books were remarkable for how they took people from different classes and had them work to reconcile their thought processes and worldviews. To me, the sex wasn’t terribly descriptive anyway, so I don’t know why they’re billed as erotic. They’re fairly cerebral books. I liked The Slightest Provocation better than I liked The Bookseller’s Daughter. Almost a Gentleman was the one I couldn’t finish because I figured out the whodunnit a quarter of the way in and, again, the sex wasn’t enough to sustain the story if you already had it figured out.

I’m reading a (published) book by my crit partner. I’m reading a book by Rachel Ann Nunes (because really, how can I pound LDS lit into the ground if I don’t read it?), but I have to admit it’s just not holding my attention. I made an order to Deseret Book because I figured out that two of the books I bought in Nauvoo 2 weeks ago (yeah, I’ll post about that) are sequels (WHY don’t they put this on the cover?).

I was, uh, gifted with boxes and boxes of old LDS books, some of which are old-timey LDS romances and some others of which I think might be valuable, so I’m looking into that.

Hey Sam Weller’s. Call me!

“Little Lion Face”

Thmazing posted this poem by May Swenson (1919-1989), Mormon poet, in April. I don’t usually “get” poetry, but I sure as heck got this and it is…beautiful. I’m going to have to invest some time in her work.

Little lion face
I stopped to pick
among the mass of thick
succulent blooms, the twice

streaked flanges of your silk
sunwheel relaxed in wide
dilation, I brought inside,
placed in a vase.Milk

of your shaggy stem
sticky on my fingers, and
your barbs hooked to my hand,
sudden stings from them

were sweet.Now I’m bold
to touch your swollen neck,
put careful lips to slick
petals, snuff up gold

pollen in your navel cup.
Still fresh before night
I leave you, dawn’s appetite
to renew our glide and suck.

An hour ahead of sun
I come to find you.You’re
twisted shut as a burr,
neck drooped unconscious,

an inert, limp bundle,
a furled cocoon, your
sun-streaked aureole
eclipsed and dun.

Strange feral flower asleep
with flame-ruff wilted,
all magic halted,
a drink I pour, steep

in the glass for your
undulant stem to suck.
Oh, lift your young neck,
open and expand to your

lover, hot light.
Gold corona, widen to sky.
I hold you lion in my eye
sunup until night.