Stomach bug, I think . . . wasted day!

I had such a long list of things to accomplish today!

Instead, I woke at six with a serious stomach ache, which progressed to *cut for TMI* around 9 AM. After barfing, I went to the sofa to lie on the heating pad until three. Wasted day! But I did get to overhear all the coverage of that shooting of new citizens in Binghamton.

I dozed and thought of an idea. What if we had a national cable channel devoted to letting people vent for five minutes or something like that? Let people like this get out their frustrations and air their grievances and ask for help or whatever. I know, we’d have to see an endless parade of guys in tinfoil hats explaining about the aliens and the conspiracy theorists and such, but that’s only if we’re WATCHING. The point is, they might release those feelings and get some help. If it prevented even one psycho outburst like this, it’d be worth it. And entertaining for some, as well. What a reality show that would be!

But anyhow, that’ll never happen. And it might not be an alternative outlet for people serious enough to get guns and ammo and go start shooting (sigh). Of course what hubby will say when he gets home is, “Had someone in the building been licensed to carry, the guy could’ve been taken out much sooner.” I’m afraid, though, that if every other person had a weapon, people would just have gunfights over crazy stuff like who stole the parking place and who cut in line. People have very poor impulse control nowadays (or maybe they always did, and the Greatest Generation was just making that stuff up.) **sigh** I was ALREADY sick when I heard all this, but it sure didn’t help.

I’m not going to comment much on that “Agentfail” deal that BookEnds Literary was kind/thoughtful enough to host on their blog, other than to say, shame on *writers* now! That was meant as a forum where you could actually say what you’d like to see changed about the current industry practices. But it got ruined by sulky types who just came to vent and say nasty things about various agents. I’m just as glad I didn’t know about the thing until today, because I was already feeling poorly today, so it didn’t ruin a GOOD day. Whereas with “queryfail” my main complaint was that I didn’t feel it was proper to quote from a private business letter publicly without the sender’s knowledge or consent (especially when the sender might feel he or she was being mocked or put down), with THIS my main complaint would be that I couldn’t bear to page down through all the whining. What a wasted opportunity for dialogue, in my opinion. And now those agents who were already kind of angry at the Great Unwashed Unpubbed crowd can legitimately point and say, “See?” ***sigh***

(EDIT: Yay! Jessica Faust at BookEnds held a forum today to counteract the bad spell and to let people tell what is positive about agents and authors at http://bookendslitagency.blogspot.com/2009/04/authorpass-and-agentpass-day.html. *Whew*)

I mean, if you can’t handle “you can assume we aren’t interested if we don’t respond within six months,” then you can’t even send out resumes for a job now, as most companies have stopped acknowledging receipt of applications and resumes unless they’re interested. There’s just too much work involved for the respondents. The major problem (IMHO) is that everybody and his frog now feels that if he/she can read a novel, then he/she can write one.

Well, okay, but I note, after reading several agency websites, that “tens of thousands of aspiring authors” write to them every year. And now that the physical obstacle of typing the stuff on a Royal portable and mailing it off at great postagely cost and so forth is gone, the junk queries and so forth from the clueless and the dilettante apparently pour in and overwhelm the ones from serious writers. That’s why agents are now the gatekeepers for editors.

It’s just too easy now. *I* started writing novels as a kid, typing juvenilia that I then believed was cool on my dad’s Royal portable. That involved putting the paper in, getting it straight, fixing the ribbon, hitting the carriage return at the end of each line before you ran over the margins, and retyping any page with more than three errors. Erasers didn’t work well (and erasable bond was hideous), and correcting tape was still a twinkle in its inventor’s eye back then. Plus, MOST people felt that typing was beneath them. No, I’m not kidding: business people had secretaries, and until the IBM PC legitimized the personal computer around 1981, no one but “secretaries” worried about learning touch typing, and usually had things typed up for them (fairly cheaply, too.) Many programmers who worked at Rockwell back when I graduated from college used data sheets to write their programs up on paper in capital letters and then had a slave from the typing pool type it up on punched cards. (Wow, mainframes. PCs came in, and executives were seen hunting for the “any” key with index fingers on the mysterious Keyboard. It took a generation for typing to become “THE” skill, I promise you.)

And this was in the early 1980s, when the sentiment was, “What would you use a personal computer for? Balancing the checkbook?” And guys would answer, “Yes,” because they couldn’t admit that they were getting it to play computer games. But I digress.

Professionals years ago just didn’t bother to learn to type. This was because typing was “for clerks.” Serious college students hired typing services rather than deal with the stuff. The first text editor program (not even a word processor) that I ever had was a godsend, as I could type the stuff and do revisions and THEN print out a copy that I could type the “normal way.” Of course, that printer was louder than a jet engine warming up on the runway, and you could NOT send in a dot-matrix printout without risking lots of flak from the recipient (some publishing houses actually said “no dot matrix printouts.”) You kids don’t know how good ya got it . . . (insert standard Oldster rant here; I’m too tired to type it.) Anyway, the old reasons that people didn’t bother to write and revise and polish manuscripts are mostly gone, and now workshops and critique groups help people polish their work on every corner, and that means lots more work for agents. Thus the new rules and hurdles you have to jump.

I don’t mind jumping the hurdles. But the stampede of writers means that it’s that much more difficult to get your work noticed. And that’s why all that rage came out, IMHO. It shouldn’t have. What ever happened to common courtesy and tact? Oh, yeah, I set it temporarily on top of the recycle bin a few years ago and forgot I’d left it there, and it got carried off with the shredded manuscripts. Shouldn’t have done that, should I?

(Hubby actually almost lost his jacket and denim jacket the other day because he moved his stuff off of his side chair to the top of their recycle bin so that his co-worker could sit next to him and study a printout, and then they went to the cafeteria, and the recycle people came and picked up his good denim jacket and his other jacket (!!!). When they got back from lunch, they made a mad dash to find out where the recycle people were. Finally they found the truck, about to leave. The guy climbed in and retrieved the two jackets from the garbage. Sheesh! Hubby brought them home in a plastic shopping bag and put them by the back door in the garage. And now I’m supposed to WASH them. But not today!!)

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Author: shalanna

Shalanna: rhymes with "Madonna" and "I wanna," and is not a soundalike with "Hosanna" or "Sha-Na-Na." Aging hippie with long hair, husband, elderly mother, and yappy Pomeranian. I've been writing since I could hold a crayon. I started with fiction, which Mama said was "lying." “Don’t tell stories,” she would admonish, in Southern vernacular. “That's all in your imagination!” When grownups said this, they were not approving. So, shamed, I stopped telling stories for a few years--rather, I stopped letting anyone read them. I'm married to a fellow computer nerd who doesn't really like hearing about writing, but who reads sf/fantasy and understands the creative drive. I'm actually a nonconformist/hippie still wearing bluejeans and drop earrings and the Alice-in-Wonderland hair with headbands and sandals. Favorite flavor is chocolate/orange, favorite color is either Dreamsicle orange (cantaloupe) or bubble-gum pink, favorite musical is either Bye Bye Birdie, Rocky Horror, or The Producers . . . wait, I also love The Music Man. Is this getting way too specific and irrelevant yet? Obvious why I don't sell a ton of flash fiction, isn't it? To define oneself, I always say, it is good to make a list. How about a booklist? Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird Frank and Ernestine Gilbreth, Cheaper by the Dozen C.S.Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (all the Narnia books) J.R.R.Tolkien,The Hobbit/LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy Gail Godwin, The Odd Woman F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby J. D. Salinger, Catcher in the Rye (before dismissing it, actually read it) George Orwell, 1984 Kurt Vonnegut, Cat's Cradle Donna Tartt, The Secret History Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn James Allen, As A Man Thinketh Mark Winegardner, Elvis Presley Boulevard James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times The Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum Winnie-the-Pooh/House at Pooh Corner, A. A. Milne Peter Pan, J. M. Barrie The KJV and NIV Bible (each translation has its glories)

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