Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A Scary Story for Young Writers...Gather 'Round

Lemme tell you a little story.

Once upon a time, there was a very ignerrent newbie writer. We'll just call At any rate, Celina had written the NGGN (next great genre novel, duh) and was just starting to poke around the internet looking for what she should do next.

(Did I add that she was pain-pill befuddled after two years of excruciating back pain? No? Well I digress. To continue...)

Just because it SEEMED SO EASY, she contacted a few agents via their online information. You know, sent out a couple of query letters and synopses (which were faithfully reproduced from sample ones online at great places like Absolute Write and Editors and Preditors) just to see what would happen.

Imagine her shock when, a few weeks later, she was contacted for a partial. Now, although most places stipulated first three chapters, this place was different. They only wanted part of one. Celina shrugged, sent it out, popped another Percocet and went back to playing Snood. I have this right? FIVE days she was contacted by an agent offering her a contract.

Oh the joy. A real, live contract. How wonderful. But....wait. She has to PAY this agent four grand? For what? Oh, it was explained to Celina meticulously.

But something didn't seem quite right.

Armed with more Percocet, Celina staggered back to the computer. While swilling a glass (okay--a bottle, damnit) of wine, she proceeded to do a very simple thing. She googled cris+robins+agency.

Let me repeat that. Doped up on Percocet, drunk off of wine, completely in agony (this was before my back surgery) I spent five minutes of time and googled someone--and LO AND BEHOLD-- I managed NOT to get scammed.

Now, those of you who know me are reasonably well-aware that I would NEVER send money out for any reason usually, but it was particularly true at that time. I was unable to work, we were surviving off one income, and 4 grand??? HA. But, by the same token if it would get me published...

It was tempting, Gods know it was tempting. It's equally tempting for every newly learning writer to take the easiest road and get published as quickly as possible. (Like that ever happens) And that's how the preditors find their prey--the young, the uneducated, the newbies. The ones who even, Lord help them, may be a little too disabled to make such decisions for themselves. I've been following a certain plagiarism incident which you can find out more about here.

Allow me to state for the record that someone somewhere needs to give Victoria Strauss and her compadres medals for all that they do. But I must admit--I don't get it. How could anyone possibly be that dense after all the help they received from viable and respected sources across the world???? I just don't get it. At any rate, back to the story...

So the moral of this story is, children, RESEARCH. Always research ANY move you make in regards to your intellectual property, even when (as is becoming apparent in this particular case) it's only partially your own. Because you know, hidden out there in the world of cyberpigs there's always someone who wants to take your money. What happened to Celina, you ask? Don't worry about her. She did just fine. Trust me. Just fine.

And some more not-quite-so-nice thoughts about entitlement

Okay. Rant alert.

It takes a hell of a lot to really piss me off. Yeah, I know you don't believe that but it's true. I managed to get pissed off today several times. Why, you ask?

First: if you're on a message forum don't argue with the mods. Jesus Christ -- how stupid can you be. Just DON'T. You don't prove a damn thing except how stupid you are. Why? Because you can't win. This is directly related to a situation that blew up on Absolute Write today and I have to say: it wasn't the mods' fault. None of them. They were in the right. It doesn't take the brains the gods gave a rock to know that bellowing out bullshit about how 'persecuted' you are on a website is just plain dumb. Period. End of story. But the flouncer felt entitled to speak his piece, to his own detriment. He felt entitled to special treatment because of his special position in the universe.

Now don't get me wrong: not all mods are fair. Not all message boards are equal. You all know of the boards of which I speak *wink*. But you know what? My spectacular exit from the board-who-shall-not-be-named was planned. It was an intentional throwing of myself on the proverbial grenade to prove a point--a point, I might add, which came across in spades. I took a gamble, I lost, and I was banned. *shrug* Rightly banned. I deserved it. Hell, I courted it!

And I loved every minute of it.


I didn't scream about how 'persecuted' I was. I didn't whine and moan about how the mods were out to get me. I didn't even flame out with a curse-filled flounce. I made my point, wickedly, and got bounced. Fair enough.

See, I didn't feel entitled to remain. Much the same way that I don't feel entitled to call someone names or dismiss their intellect just because they disagree with me.

Even if they are stupid.

*sigh* It's so damn annoying. I wasn't even involved in this controversy but I got sucked right in because I absolutely cannot stand it when someone just doesn't get the point, doesn't take responsibility for the own actions and suck it up.

Then of course there's work. I'm quickly getting to the point where I hate to walk into the place. Here again, I'm dealing with a sense of entitlement--my boss feels entitled to dictate my schedule even though I've made it clear that I need specific days and a set routine. Saturday night, I told him "My birthday is this week and I need to go home to Tennessee." He says, "No problem."


For pete's sake---was it that hard to remember? But then again, I did get lots of sympathy tips tonight so it made it worthwhile. And a night that I thought would be dead dead dead because the fair is over was actually a fairly good shift.

But wow am I tired.

Here's the way I see it: no one is entitled to anything.

I wonder, how much easier would life be if everyone felt that way? What if, for one glorious day, the human beings on this planet woke up and didn't think about what everyone else owed them...or what they were cheated out of...or how someone was out to get them? What if everyone woke up and thought, "Wow. I'm here because of my own actions. No one else is responsible; it's all on me."

Would that be scary? Exhilarating? Liberating? Would people be able to go through their daily routines without acting like asshats? Is it possible that for twenty-four hours we could manage to scrape through our lives without feeling entitled to something we think we deserve to possess?

No. It's impossible. Unfortunately, human beings as a whole find it much easier to blame someone else for their problems. We think that people owe us. We feel that our peers are required to provide that which we need, simply because we exist.

Existence is NOT entitlement. Get over yourselves and I'll try to get over myself. You don't owe me and I don't owe you. We'll call it even and try to exist without stomping all over toes. Because I have to tell you, I've had enough of this entitlement bullshit.

And if you don't cut it out, I'm going to call my lawyer.