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August 18, 2010


True Religion Outlet

this is her first book of personal essays. It was the last part of the review that inspired me to get online immediately and write this entry while the bundle of cuteness pictured above sleeps at my feet.


I am so excited for you. I am going to print this post as a lesson for me.

BTW, I always stop and write what people say during those kinds of phone calls. It causes me to pause and not rebut what is being said. And...it gives me their true words for later reflection, instead what what I later translate their words into.

I came up with a book idea while on the back of Mike's bike, riding thru the California desert. I can't wait to share it with YOU!

(Note: I am catching up with your posts before I dive into a weeks worth of email. What a gift to be insired FIRST!)

Karen Maezen Miller

This brings me back to that editor's admonition I quote in the last chapter of HWC: "Readers like to be taken on a journey . . . " A completely fabricated map with that rainbow/sunset/happy after ending. And my response "they are already on a journey!"

Alas, not all books are art, not all movies are films, and not all truth is true.


This is so interesting to me!

I'm glad you knew you weren't writing a memoir. How interesting that you realized she was "reading the book wrong" so quickly after the conversation. Good on you for that. I'm sure it saved you a world of grief! Though I do hate the mental tizzy it caused for you: Am I writing a memoir? Should I be?

I'm glad, in the end, you stayed true to what you needed to write. And I am, of course, looking forward to learning more about your new book!

Memoir, by the way, is one of my most-favorite genres to read. I love reading well-written stories of real lives examined and lived out. I don't like that the market has become glutted with them -- so much so that they've almost become a cliche -- but give me Karen Armstrong's "The Spiral Staircase" or Elizabeth Gilbert's "Eat Pray Love" any day ... I'll be a happy camper! :)


Warning: this will sound like a rant, but I ain't ranting at you, I am ranting on your behalf.


When I was much younger, I always thought that getting a publishing deal was the Holy Grail of all Holy Grails out there. Then I got one and understood so many things that now that I've got half an idea for another proposal to start making the rounds at some point next year, I am not even fussed by the prospect of rejection. This is because while working as a writer, I've had the good fortune to work as an editor too, going through such conversations with various publishers:

Publisher: 'Steph, I'd like you to go through this and tell me how publishable you think it is.
Me: 'Ok, great'.

Some time later...

Publisher: 'What did you think of those short stories?'
Me: 'Well, quite frankly I thought they were shite. No structure, no actual story to half of them, and don't even get me started on the grammatical atrocities... They need re-writing for a start, then hacked down and shortened, then re-written again and then edited.'
Publisher: 'Yes I agree, they were bloody awful. But they sell, people buy this shit! We're publishing them anyway.'

Ehrm... yeah, well, ok, why even asking me to go through them and advise one way or the other? Dollar is king, so there's no point in discussing their viability when it is their immense marketability that has already decided their future anyway.

In related shambles: publishers want to be able to pigeonhole a project very clearly. There is no fantasy-cum-adventure-cum-romance novel. There is fantasy or adventure or romance. Hence, you talking about 'personal essays' effectively means nothing to them, or better, they know exactly what you're talking about, except they want to ensure you write it AS a memoir, much better if as a memoir of misery, which sells particularly well these days.

Nobody wants to read of creative happy people (well, we want to, but a publisher will tell you that we don't!); they are all after tragic life stories, liars and sinners. But of course, the only thing that the audience loves much more than a sinner is a reformed sinner, the bastard who has gone to hell and has incensed him/herself on the way out of it ('Chicago' through and through this, but so very applicable to what the industry churns out it's untrue). There ain't no shelf for 'personal essays' around here, but there is one for 'memoir' and even one for 'tragic life stories'. If you can't (or are unwilling to) shoehorn your project into those, you're much better off waiting for a different tide to bring it out to sea. Well done for doing so; lots of writers would jump at the opportunity and destroy their work and their integrity in the process. It takes courage and stamina to say 'no thanks'.


I had a very similar experience in ways with my previous manuscript ( the one you saw). It was initially seemingly accepted by my first choice publisher but they came back to Laini and I wanting such a significant change in an aspect that i felt like it compromised the meaning and passion of the book for us. Sometimes I regret not going with their advice but on the other hand it's allowed me to now work on two books that I have even more excitement about as I took what I loved about the first one and integrated it into the current projects. The other thing is why does a memoir or autobiography have to "be" any which way? I think Spilling Open proved that readers cherish books that illuminate the messy juice and exquisiteness of the unresolved fragile moments as much as the ones that make their way to a full circle, sometimes redemptive, resolution or realization. Readers are looking for connection and not always solutions/ redemption in their reading and relationships.


Amen. You know the way. You are on the right path and I am very excited for you! You mind if I continue to feel inspired by your leaps? This is just what my today needs...thanks.

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