Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Call later - my head's in the oven

Well, I wanted to start off the new year - our collective arbitrary turning point - on a positive note. But I've spent the first two days of 2006 much as Mr. Rat over there suggested. So maybe I'll settle for realistic, instead.

My dear friend Mis Hooz - Fried Rice Thoughts' New York Bureau Chief, for those who might be new to the blog - sent me an article over the weekend that might compel me to add some vodka to my morning tea. (I'm in full avoid-the-cold mode. Lozenges, vitamin C, tea, etc. No echinacea, as I'm convinced that it makes me nauseous. Fried Rice Favorite Mrs. K, if she remembers, might be able to confirm this for everyone, as she witnessed my skin turn a peculiar shade of green while we worked together.) This comes via the Sunday Times of Britain:

They can’t judge a book without its cover. Publishers and agents have rejected two Booker prize-winning novels submitted as works by aspiring authors.

One of the books considered unworthy by the publishing industry was by V.S. Naipaul, one of Britain’s greatest living writers, who won the Nobel prize for literature.

The exercise by The Sunday Times draws attention to concerns that the industry has become incapable of spotting genuine literary talent.

Well! How about them apples? I'll be serving you behind the counter at your local bar or coffee shop any day now. (This is presuming, of course, that I have anything near "genuine literary talent." I likely do not. This might be modesty, however, as my mother thinks my short stories are "#@$%ing brilliant.")

The Sunday Times piece reminded me of a New York Times article I'd been sitting on for a few months, which detailed the Kubler-Ross-esque 13 stages of misery that any author fortunate enough to be published must endure. For example, there's the stage of "obsession":

Author spends hours and hours in autoerotic self-Googling and checking his Amazon ranking (and the rankings of his friends' books and of books published during the same time frame as his). He moves his book to the front of the bookstores, changes its position on display tables and flips shelf orientation from spine out to cover out. He cajoles friends into writing positive reviews on Amazon.

And this is for the writers who get published! I can't relate at all. For instance, I don't spend any time at all autoerotically checking this blog's site counter for hits and links. No way. And I have never (at least in, like, the past eight or nine months) "cajoled" a friend into posting a comment, positive or otherwise.

Maybe this is why I have something of a Superman fetish. Remember the scene in Superman: The Movie, in which Mr. Blue Tights flew around the earth at super-speed to make it rotate in the other direction, thus making time turn backwards? Okay, Superman would have a lot more flying to do, to turn time back some 15 years, when I thought to myself "You know what I'd like to be? A writer!" But yeah, sometimes I'd like to do that.

You think an agent or publisher would accept that story if I submitted it? What if I said it was written by a Booker Prize winner? Or the "Hacker Prize"?

(Image from "Pearls Before Swine" ©2005 Stephen Pastis/ Dist. by UFS, Inc.)