Monday, August 20, 2007

Eye of the Beholder

Lee Goldberg has posted his response to my blog of the last few months.  He’s upset that my posts have been down.  He writes: “I find her posts disturbing and sad”.

I tried to tell him that my blog is about the ups and downs of this writer’s life.  I’m not going to write positive posts when there’s nothing positive to say at the moment.

Lee also writes, “It's unpleasant to see her in such a self-defeating, bitter retreat.”  Unpleasant?  Where does it say that I have to be pleasant? Self-defeating?  I don’t see it that way.  Should I get some positive mantra?  Should I lie on this blog and write only good thoughts?  Bitter?  Well, perhaps some are bitter.  The ones about publishing probably are.  On the other hand I don’t see them that way.  I see them as telling it like it is.

I state at the top of my blog that the blog is about writing and not writing, good and bad days.  It’s true that my bad days have lasted for quite a long time now, but I think that’s important for other writers to read.  To see that they’re not alone.  Because if Lee thinks I’m the only writer who feels this way he’s living in a dream world.

He goes on to write, “And I'm not so sure it's healthy for her career to be posting about it on her blog...then again, that's probably exactly why she's doing it.”

Healthy for my career? At this stage of my life I don’t think this way.  Lee is a completely different kind of writer than I am and probably it wouldn’t be good for his career to post some of the feelings I have, if he had them. Lee is in the middle of his career, and it doesn’t have a lot to do with the publishing world that I deal with.  This is not to put Lee down but merely to explain that our careers live in two different worlds.

“then again that’s probably why she’s doing it”?  What does that mean?  I’m writing these posts to make my career healthy?  I don’t get that.

I think Lee entirely misses the humor in these posts.  Many people don’t.  That’s not to say that the humor mitigates what I feel.  I recognize the humor in my thoughts as well as the plain ordinary truth of what I’m feeling.

In his response to my comment he writes, “Read your posts. They are bleak and depressing.”  So what?  I don’t see them that way, but even if that’s true, so what?  Does Lee want me to put on a happy face?

He writes that even when the posts aren’t about myself I express, “dark views about the state of publishing.”  Don’t we published writers know that the state of publishing is dreadful?  Why shouldn’t I write about that?  That might be helpful to a new writer who is getting rejection after rejection.

Lee writes, “Surely there are some "ups" in your writing life (or in your thoughts)

Well, no, Lee.  If there were, I’d post about these ups as I have in the past. And if any come along (as I hope they will) I’ll post them immediately.

To be fair to Lee he says some very nice things about me as a writer.  And I thank him for that.

Lee, you’ll be the first to know when I start a new novel.  And I hope that’s soon.


Terre said...

Please don't change a thing! Your honesty is refreshing, comforting and, in its own way, encouraging. The thing I appreciate most about you, is your courage to be yourself. Obviously, that is a rare quality these days!

pattinase (abbott) said...

Strongly seconded.
Your blog should reflect you. His can reflect him.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Not only do I agree with terre and Patti, I'm going to add this to it: Maybe instead of criticizing you for being down, LG should be encouraging you. There are some blogs that are an ongoing stream of pat-on-the-back of blogger to self, interspersed with shots at others they pull down. That's hardly encouraging or enjoyable to read. Personally, I prefer to read heartfelt honesty.

Lee Goldberg said...

Actually, in my ass-backwards way, I am trying to encourage her. I want her to write more great books. It saddens me to see her this way...and I'm sure there are other fans of her and her work who feel the same way.

Jessica Ferguson said...

Yikes! I'm missing some excitement here. I've been too depressed over my rewriting and the state of publishing. Nope, not trying to be a smart-mouth. I really have been. :(

Lee, I know where you're coming from. Until I went back and read many of Sandra's earlier posts, I was very concerned. Sounded to me like she was down and depressed, but I didn't 'get' her voice. Now I've come to appreciate her sarcasm, her dry humor, and her wisdom about the publishing world and her honesty. I've recognized some of my own feelings in her comments and I'm totally addicted to her blog.

Wish I could sit across from her in that new Starbucks and visit to my heart's content. And pick her brain. :-)

Mark said...

The title of the blog says writing and not writing. This would be the not writing section. It happens.

2020 said...

I appreciate your honesty and courage in this age of pretense, bravado, hypercompetition and putting on a false front. Lee's thoughts are, I think, a reflection of his affection for you and your work. As a reader and fan, I would be very sad if you didn't write another book -- soon. But as a writer, very nearly a former writer, I empathize with you. Everyone is entitled to take a break to recharge, reorient, try some new things, smell the flowers, find their bliss (sounds corny, but it's true.) I suspect this is part of a process that will lead you to even greater creativity in the future. Thanks for kicking down the doors for the rest of us and, of course, for all the great books. I'm excited to see where all this leads for you.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Nice thoughts, well said Sparkle. Glad to see you say "nearly a former writer".

I also think that we can all appreciate it isn't just as simple as someone writing a book and making everyone happy. The industry is changing, sometimes people go through rough patches because they have to switch agents or publishers and I think that authors put enough pressure on themselves about disappointing fans - authors certainly can't own responsibility for a publisher dropping their series, etc.

I may be wrong, but it has seemed to me that some of Sandra's discouragement has come from finding herself up against industry issues. Offhand, I can think of half a dozen authors inside of two seconds who've had such struggles this year, others who fear the current book in motion will be their last, that they'll be dropped.

Of course that's discouraging. I know a few former NY Times and USA Today bestsellers who are now writing without contracts. These are the realities of the business. And I appreciate those authors for candidly sharing their struggles.

Sandra Scoppettone said...

Hello All,

I want to thank everyone for being so supportive. And I'm surprised to learn that some of you read my blog. I'm glad you understand what I'm doing here.

If we're down, we're down. What's the point of faking? Things change all the time. Sometimes certain things last longer than we'd like.

BTW, that's the royal We.

Chaser said...

There have been times where I have fretted a bit about whether you were just dour/sarcastic (which is my style, too) or really, truly, long-term unhappy. I suspected the former, but I am actually kind of glad of you and Lee had this exchange so you could describe your own reflections on it.

My own style is a bit on the grouchy side (not saying you are grouchy, just that I am) and I get fed up with blogs that, day after day, regale you with how "Today I got into my size 2 jeans!!! And then I bopped down to the ice cream store where I ate all the ice cream there! And then my loving parents came by and we went skiing in Aspen! And then I found $7,000 in the gutter! And then a handsome stranger gave me flowers on the street! And then unicorns and sunshine came out of butt! What a day!"

Anonymous said...

Lee Goldberg is a well established writer with a successful and lucrative career...I find his remarks both patronising and smug.It's absurd that you can't even give vent to your own thoughts and feelings on your own blog without coming in for criticism from someone who really ought to know better. Perhaps his time would be better spent honing his critical faculties on his own blog,then he'd know the real meaning of 'disturbed' and 'unpleasant'.

Anonymous said...

Sandra, I'm sorry if you've been very down! I'm down a lot, especially about writing. And I'm a negative cynical person overall. People have often told me to stop being negative and be more positive, while they failed to point out all the positive stuff I'm supposed to be positive about. Where is it? I don't see much positive stuff. Neither do they. Negative truths about life scare them because their positivism is actually fake, is on shaky intellectual ground. At least I'm honest.

I think telling other people how to be, feel, think and write is generally retarded. I always love when things have been going great for some people, and they basically say others should smile along with them, completely ignoring that people aren't obligated to smile through life, that things just aren't going great for many today--they're actually going TERRIBLE--including for many writers. I think this stuff's a protective mechanism: many insiders want to protect their fields, their successes; they think (either consciously or subconsciously or both) criticisms of their industries threaten their industries and, therefore, their personal successes. Unfortunately, in writing, in publishing, this seems a common mode of (stupid) writerly operation, which in my opinion helps perpetuate the writers-are-at-the-bottom publishing power structure. The very flawed system needs changing for the benefit of ALL writers, and before that changing can happen, people need to critically analyze all the system's flaws.

That your work's been multipublished and you haven't grown complacently suck-upish about writing and publishing is great--and rare. Preserve that as much as you can.

Hope you feel better soon in spite of the depressing stuff,


Terrie Farley Moran said...

Hurry! Hurry over to the Mystery Scene magazine and read Kevin Burton Smith's article on the 100 best P.I.s

Everyone is entitled to be up, down or in the middle and everyone is entitled to an opinion.


Sandra Scoppettone said...

Thanks. I know about the list and I'm happy one of my creations is on it. Maybe there'll be another list one day and another one of my characters will make the grade...or maybe yours.