"You know what? The bastard blows me out of the water. This guy writes Maine like Ardai writes New York. If you're not reading him, you don't know what you're missing." --Chris F. Holm, author of The Big Reap, The Wrong Goodbye and Dead Harvest.

"Bagley's got the poet's eye, but that doesn't mean everything is prettier in his work. It means the ugly stuff is more vivid. More intense. Like a sudden switch from analog to HD. And that's a trait to very much admire in his work." --Anthony Neil Smith, author of Hogdoggin', Yellow Medicine, The Drummer and Psychosomatic.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Junk Mail

Want to see my head explode like that guy in Scanners? Tell me you're a writer (or want to be one), but don't have time to read. Look. My right eye is twitching right now, just from thinking about it. Here is an excerpt from a long e-mail I received yesterday:

"I have now sent this manusript [sic] to nine publishers and it keeps getting rejected. The last editor suggested novels for me to read. I'm too busy for that. And I already wrote the book anyway. I don't need a reading list, I need a publisher. A co-worker says I should get an agent. Do you have any recommendations? How much do they charge up front? I would be happy to send you [novel title] if you think it would interest you're [sic] agent."

Hey buddy, do you have any idea how idiotic that sounds? Apparently not.

Imagine a wanna-be composer who doesn't listen to music.

Let me get this straight: you've written a novel, but you don't read. So why would you expect anyone else to be interested in your manuscript? You are either too stupid to understand that a grounding in both contemporary and cannonical works is essential to a writer's development or you are simply so arrogant that you do not think it matters.

You say you can't find a publisher for this opus?

There's a surprise. You're lucky the last editor was kind enough to give you advice instead of a form rejection. Oh, and legitimate agents don't demand money in advance.

Do I have any recommendations? Yes.

Read a book.

Then read a lot more.

You don't have time? Boo-frickin'-hoo. Make time. I assume you had plenty of time to crank out a novel that no one wants.

I have to say good-bye now. My head hurts.


Sandra Ruttan said...

I'm with you - I've heard this far too many times. I understand, especially when writing a first novel, most don't read while writing because their own voice isn't strong enough to withstand the influence, but between novels, between edits, you read.

You read and read and read.

I also roll my eyes at people who refuse to buy books (I'm talking unpublished aspiring here) but are trying to sell their manuscript and aim to make thousands. One such person told me they knew someone who was making about $30,000 a year and thought that would be good.

Dawn Potter said...

Argh. No wonder your head hurts.

Myself, I get letters from "concerned parents" who want my "professional opinion" on the "immoral poems" that teachers are inflicting on their children (i.e., poems by "outrageous poets such as a fellow named Billy Collins" that mention that people inevitably die and that sometimes even a smiling, obedient, churchgoing child feels sad for no particular reason).

Kieran said...

Patrick, I have some truly breathtakingly painkillers chilling in my basement 'fridge. No time to read?!? Gruuhh? How about no time to breathe, how's that work for you?

Patrick Shawn Bagley said...

Sandra: I've run into plenty of those clowns.

Dawn: Billy Collins as an outrageous poet...now I've heard it all.

Kieran: The chilled painkillers do work best.