Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Keeping it Rosy

Many publishing blogs spin endless tales of doom and gloom right now, as mid-lists shrink, retail space evaporates, and we all teeter on the brink of celebrity cookbook wipe out. But writers themselves tend to paint a rather more positive picture on their blogs, especially when they talk about their own careers. Not all writers of course, some are more honest about these bruising times than others, but there's no doubt that a great deal of 'talking it up' is going on. Not that this is at all surprising.

I get my fair share of knock backs, and I don't normally mention them here. For example, I tried very hard for a lovely ghost writing job a few months ago, and failed. And I've just received a letter notifying me that yet another edition (book+CD) of one of my picture books is going out of print, something that happens perhaps once a year. But why don't I blog about these things? Isn't a big part of blogging the 'sharing of relevant information', warts and all?

Naturally, no one wants to look like they're struggling, and this is probably even more true of writers who are already published because they have professional reputations to nurture upon which future publishing deals will be based. So we talk it up and keep it rosy, because it's in our interests to do so. But could it be that some agents and publishers have an interest in doing the exact opposite? Just a thought -- don't shoot me.

How about you? Do you blog it up (if you blog that is)? Or are you brave enough to show a little bruise blue with your rosy pink?


  1. It's a really interesting question Thomas. Sometimes I think I should just blog the good news because folks are going to get depressed pretty quickly by tales of rejection and woe. Sometimes I think I should catalogue the whole process of writing, warts and all, to arrive at a more realistic picture.

    Sorry, I haven't answered the question have I?

  2. Er, no... but thanks for commenting anyway:)

    But I think that the realistic picture would be a better one to project all in all. Otherwise it'd all be relentless pretty pictures, happiness and light, with nothing to laugh about or debate.

  3. Fair point. Actually I think you're right. The silver linings will seem all the brighter against a few clouds ...

  4. I always try to blog positively - which means I avoid dwelling on knockbacks or rejections. Funnily enough I get a bit superstitious whenever there are good things brewing and don't like to say anything in case I jinx myself.

    The end result of all this of course is that my original plan to blog about my writing journey towards (hopefully) publication has gone out of the window and I blog about everything else instead.


  5. Kate,

    But you've had some great successes! Keep on with the journey! I, for one, like to hear about the knockbacks because it makes me, in the same boat, feel better.

  6. Well, I'm not published so I don't have any bruises or rosies to report. So I guess I just blather:)

    I try to keep things fun and positive, though because there's too much bad news to go around these days, in general.

    Thoughtful post!

  7. Thanks Kate and Terry. I think it's a good idea to keep posts as positive as possible but as Simon says, a bit of contrast helps keep things sounding real. Mind you, watching the rejections roll in for my novel and planning how to talk about that here did leave me wondering if silver linings could be conjured out of thin air.

  8. It is not always possible to appear purrfectly groomed and with your claws retracted - at least that is the way it is with us cats. I have learned to live with this now that I am in my ninth life. Sometimes it can help to tell others about how others are throwing your carefully arranged cat hairs back at you. We are here to listen if you wish to do that.
    Yours sincerely, Cat

  9. I had exactly the same situation as you with rejections recently, and I'm not quite there with acceptance either (congratulations on yours, by the way). I haven't blogged about the rejections yet, but I'm going to do a special post on the whole submissions and acquisitions process once the dust clears. I think there is an element of a blog being public - I don't particularly want the publishing world to know the depths of my failure, at least not until I have good news to report as well. I have posted a few tidbits on Facebook, but the audience there is more selective.

    One of my co-authors in SCBWI Undiscovered Voices actually posted bits from her rejection letters on her blog! http://daylightprocrastinator.wordpress.com/2010/07/22/rave-rejections/

  10. This is a thought provoking question Thomas! Since I am not published I can't share the ups and downs of my non-existent career. But, via my blog I do like to portray that I am professional, productive, like to entertain, and that I take trying to be a writer a serious endeavor. I figure that's the best that I can do.

  11. Cat, it's lovely to have a moggy about the place, no matter how ruffled or imperfectly groomed. Thanks for your regular comments. That comfy spot near the wood burner is henceforth reserved for you:)

    Thanks, Nick. I'll enjoy reading those rejections, so thanks for that link. But I sympathise directly with 'NO THANKS', no matter where it falls.

    Thanks, Anita. I don't think it matters whether or not you're published if you talk about your writing in a public space like a blog. People in the same boat will always sympathise, and (I suspect) need to sympathise. I'm always amazed that writers, despite being such intensely solitary beings, are nevertheless very eager to gather together and support each other.

  12. Very timely, Thomas.

    I try to stay positive - but I worry that may come across as boasting/showing off. I only mention a fraction of my rejections - as Simon notes, I think it can be a boost to other new struggling writers to see that I have some tough times but keep writing regardless. I don't want to lose the essence of me under a sheen of rosyness, but I do want to be professional.
    Got me all analytical now.
    This is very interesting/useful to know about.

    (Is my blog (or my comments) unprofessional? Should I blog and ask? Self doubt creeping in...)

    The thing is, I believe in my writing. It keeps me moving forwards.

    Great post. Thanks, Thomas.

  13. Hi Rachel. Yes, trying to draw a clear line in the shifting sands between sharing good news and showing off is probably impossible. There's always be someone who thinks the worst. The way I see it, if I don't talk about my books then no one else will.

    I'm not sure 'professional' is the right word to describe an interesting and poetic-philosophical blog like yours. You're an artist not an acountant! If we can't be free to be unconventional and surprising on our blogs, where can we?

  14. I do worry that I'll be expressing my inner most on my blog, though, exactly at the moment my dream agent takes a peek! But I suppose if they are the right agent for me they would like me precisely because of my bloggy inner mostness.


  15. I should hope so, Rachel! I think agents in particular are very interested to see a creative spirit in full flight. Any fool can learn to keep a deadline, but not everyone has interesting things to say.

  16. That's a very good point, Thomas. And those of us who aren't published, can a learn a lot, good and bad, from the experiences of published authors.


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